With great French style, Frederic Mouchet's exhibition at the SA State Library was opened last night, with a flurry of dignitaries from the French Ambassador to Australia, to the SA Premier, to Nicholas Baudin himself (an actor doing a fabulous job).
We witnessed lovely speeches talking about the long friendship between France and South Australia, which was highlighted in the recent arrangement to build French submarines here in South Australia. H.E. Mr. Christophe Lecourtier, Ambassador to Australia, stated that it was the ultimate sign of friendship, to share military secrets.
Frederic's images are very subtle, they speak volumes of the rugged beauty and the isolation of our coast. The pictures very much evoke the feeling that Baudin must have had at times when charting our waters.
In speaking with Frederic, who speaks very little English, life as an established photographer in France, is very much the same as one here. It is difficult, and a key skill is surviving between commissions.
Frederic occasionally works for National Geographic and similar publications, his book "The Australia of the French Explorers" is ht basis for this exhibition, and the book is a stunning discussion of the early visits to Australia by the French.
Here is a section from Frederic's bio that speaks for his style of photographer, that so suited the task he undertook:
"In choosing his subjects, Frederic Mouchet attaches little importance to grand events. He believes more in the poetry of the ordinary, in the truth of backyards, and anonymous faces struggling through the maze of daily life, glowing or growing drunk at a party, or yearning before the altar of a temple. He believes in the language of landscapes, eloquent with the deep-rooted relationships they share with man. And his comings and goings in five continents over the last 20 years have allowed him to measure just to what extent geography shapes people and their cultures."
Frederic will be giving two artists' talks on Thursday June 9th, Tuesday 14th of June, I will be giving a floor walk and talk, discussing the works, details can be found below on the Library's website.