And Then This Happened… / David Ryrie – 'making photographs'

We are soaked in images. Everyone has hundreds of photos in their pocket. It is how the world appears on screen and in media, it is how we identify with the world and each other.

We film the concert on our phones instead of enjoying it, we photograph the food while it cools to room temperature. I feel that David Ryrie works in opposition to this immediacy and the image.

James Kerr

David Ryrie ‘makes’ pictures whereas most people ‘take’ them. Ryrie uses a camera shutter as a brush and captures a beauty that is often ignored. His artwork and process occurs through hours of focussed observation before and after the camera is used. This brings into play an interesting relationship between time; in the camera, in the world, and in the print making. Ryrie creates photography, but the final result speaks to painting and in many ways is informed by the medium. It could be hours walking around Chinatown in Melbourne and stumbling across some discarded bananas, or time waiting for a flight. In many of the works that Ryrie has created, it is time spent over many days, sometimes everyday and then allowing a moment to make the journey from camera to paper.

There is an elaborate process from the moment the film is exposed until the final print sits on the paper and on the wall. This poetry in the everyday is what makes David Ryrie a wonderful artist. He is able to see things that others do not. He shines light into the darkness and makes us connect and feel, he slows us down and stops us looking in order to help us see.

The grit and grain in these works, as well as the ability to depict the often overlooked, brings to mind the work of the Japanese photographer Daidō Moriyama. Moriyama was well known for his blurry unearthing of urban life. The use of flash, the wet foot print and discarded bananas in ‘Just Friends, 2018-2021’ is the perfect nod to the city scape grime. Ryrie pulls our focus down and shows the beaten path, the chewed gum and a little corner that the other pedestrians walked past without thought.

Ryrie is constantly working, seeing and sketching. His camera is really the means to a sketch. The captured image exists as the half way point between noticing, obsessive study of a location and the finished print. There is a romance that is drawn out from the film in a complex process of print making and the image is bound with paper in such a painterly respect. This is the time where he uses his skill to render the final image well outside the register of what is initially captured in camera.

While we discuss this part of his process we are also emailing about the dimensions of some of the nib walls in the gallery space and wondering how these could be incorporated in the installation of the show. He then requests two dimensions that even I wonder how these could be of relevance to the show. It is this fine detail, dedication to story telling and practice that sets this work out ahead of many straight photographers. The next time we sit down, he arrives with a scale model of the gallery and three different shows worth of images at the model scale and ready to map them out in the space. This is how he is comfortable working, this is preferable to the 3-D render, it is raw and perhaps a little more real. What is obvious is how much work occurs away from the camera and how considered the end result.

I love the honesty in this show and in all of the works David Ryrie creates. I don’t look at this work and think about my camera and the endless image abyss. I see a beauty and integrity, I see a willingness to share the wonders of the world. These works remind us that you need to slow down, look up and down, and to think about what we have and not what we want. They are a little rough around the edges, blurred and in many cases imperfect. They are true to our surroundings. The sprocket holes as well as the soft and sometimes blurred images remind us of the romance of the processes. These painterly works are calming, they are real and they want us to breath in and clear our thoughts. Not every moment needs to be captured with our cameras, look up from your screen and enjoy the moment. I am less worried about the impending weeds after this rain. Everything has its place in the system and I am thankful for how this show is able to portray this with such an honest and natural beauty. 

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David Ryrie: Tangle 2018-2021. Pigment Ink on Archival Art Paper 74cm x 110cm. Edition of 4

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David Ryrie: C Minor No 2 2019-2021. Pigment Ink on Archival Art Paper 30cm x 45cm. Edition of 2

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