History

A history in detail

Technique

CV

A history in detail.

Even as a child, Cameron was endlessly fascinated by the small things. He would follow a slug’s progress across a dusty yard for hours. The patterns in a grain of wood, a bug, a discarded car part, a dead mouse – they all held an equal sense of wonder for Cameron. He has never lost that sense of wonder for the small things; the details that pass most of us by unnoticed are at the forefront of his vision. The gift he has for focusing in on the forgotten aspects of the world around us is given to us through his printmaking.

Cameron was raised in country Victoria where he was surrounded by an expanse of space. A landscape that when seen from a distance looks almost empty, save a few gnarled and noble gums or a herd of cattle. But the land is not empty; it holds evidence of history, of life. Cameron looks at an enormous space up close, inch-by-inch, and notices each detail that makes the whole. He strives to master the art of looking intently and clearly at something. The art of listening to silence.

Cameron’s work is the vision of someone who reads between the lines. Someone who bothers to climb underneath what the rest of us walk over and pick up the things that have fallen through the cracks. Someone who stays silent and still long enough to hear what is never said out aloud.

There is a distinctive essence in Cameron’s work that is at once obvious and difficult to explain. The sculptor Alberto Giacometti once said, “One could not express in words what one feels with ones eyes and ones hands”. There is a real sense of feeling in his prints. Looking at each piece one knows that its’ simplicity is deceiving. It can be compared to reading a story when you know the characters have lives beyond what you read on the page. Each piece has a history – details that are not there for us to see but we are allowed to feel if we let the silence and space communicate.

When Cameron first started making prints and sketches he was drawn to found objects, old things, discarded, broken things. Things that might have once been regarded as useful or beautiful but are no longer regarded at all. There is a sort of poetry in the dusty, rusted objects, forgotten relics of time past. Their bare simplicity attracted Cameron because they left so much room to explore composition and technique.

The respect Cameron holds for his subject is clear. The work is imbued with a gentle strength that comes from looking in silence, without thinking, without thought. Respecting what is, revering an objects very existence just because it exists.

His flowers are a form of vanitas, displaying the transience of life. The flower portrayed in its most magnificent state has now rotted away. Its once proud petals have fallen. Vanitas comes from the Latin and relates to vanity, ill placed pride, and emptiness of earthly possessions and accomplishments. The prints humble us; remind us that our bodies are just transient carriers of soul and spirit. The vast emptiness of the backgrounds allow for mediative contemplation of the ultimate futility of our physical existence. They gently peel away our layers of ego and self-concern.

Similarly, the rhopographic works, depicting discarded, forgotten or trivial objects invert notions of importance and beauty. An object that in our daily lives is seen as insignificant is imbued with great esteem. The distortions of view or of size give the objects new life, new meaning, and new beauty.

Cameron works methodically, quietly, and continually. He finds as much inspiration in the process as in the original idea. Making art, he says, is “just what I do”. He doesn’t consider it work, nor is it always enjoyable. It is simply what he does, how he communicates best. There is no conscious political, religious, or social motive behind the work. There is however, a very human motive. A compelling atmosphere that asks the onlooker to look closer, because life is in the details.

Catriona Fraser

Copyright © Cameron Fraser. All rights reserved.