Bowness Photographic Prize 2018


Rowan Conroy Kiln #1 from the Series The Peotics of Detritus 2008- 2018 (ongoing)Piezography print on cotton rag. Ed. 1/5. 108 x 138cm Finalist in the 2018 Bowness Photography Award


The work above is a finalist in the 2018 William and Winifred Bowness Photographic Prize. Here is the artist statement I submitted with the work:

Since 2005, my work has focused on the use of photographic technologies to address the beauty and discord, detailed richness and absence within landscape in Australia, the Middle East, Greece and China. This work Kiln #1 depicting an asbestos lined brick kiln, is part of a decade long series The Poetics of Detritus which explores abandoned or overlooked sites in the built environment. These sites endure within the environment as witness to past human desires and motivations. The past echoes into the present through visual traces and artefacts. The disinterested eye of the camera renders these details, whether beautiful or unsightly, within the same frame. The earth is an expansive palimpsest, with many overlaid histories and mythologies written across its surface. Many of the places pictured in this series no longer exist.

Ruin thought can extend from the sites and fragments of deep antiquity to the sites of the recent past. Invoking this sort of  contemplation creates a continuum with other types of ruins, and is a methodology for seeing both the value of present conditions as well as recognizing the fragility and transitory nature of seemingly monolithic and stable systems and structures.

Rowan Conroy 2018 



Travellers from Australia - Pafos 2017 European Capital of Culture

Pafos theatre, full moon, April 2006. Pigment inkjet print on cotton rag (from digitised 4x5 film positive) 900 x 1400 mm  edition of 5 (printed 2017)

Pottery sorting table, Apollo Hotel, Pafos Theatre Excavtions, April 2006. Pigment inkjet print on cotton rag (from digitised 4x5 film positive) 900 x 1400 mm  edition of 5 (printed 2017)

I'm very pleased to have a series of three prints in the Exhibition Travellers from Australia which is part of the Pafos 2017 European Capital of Culture arts festival. Director of the Pafos Theatre Excavations Dr Craig Barker (Uni of Sydney) and Emeritus Professor Diana Wood Conroy (Uni. of Wollongong) have written about the dig and the role of artists on the excavation in a recent piece in the Converstion here

Below is taken from my short statment in the exhibition catalogue: 

I first attended the Pafos theatre excavations in 1996 at the age of fourteen. I went on to attend the dig in 1997, 2001, 2002 & 2006. Being exposed to archaeology and Cyprus at an impressionable age has had a lasting and profound impact artistically and academically. In 1997 I worked with the site photographer, Bob Miller. I recall the guerrilla darkroom, constructed in a dilapidated farm building, leaky and mouldy, this combined with the magical results of analogue photography - a fantastic memory to have and a formative experience. In later seasons of “the dig” I worked as an archaeological illustrator. Drawing gave me an intimate and meditative exposure to the material culture of the site. One season when drawing an exquisite sherd of Terra sigillata I discovered a perfectly preserved finger print on the base of the fragment. This formed a memory that I have returned to many times. It was moving to see the only remnant of a human presence physically etched in an object, and a sense of continuity with the ancient artists associated with the site. I went on to study visual art at Sydney University. By my honours year my interest in the intersection of art and archaeology had been cemented in my practice. In 2011, I was conferred a PhD from Sydney university for my thesis Archaeologies of the Present: Rephotographing the 

William John Woodhouse Photographic Archive. This involved four years of research into the intersections of visual art and archaeology with a focus on photography. This was complemented by a reconstruction of a partly broken and fragmented Woodhouse photographic archive held at Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum. A year of field work in Greece in 2009-2010 followed and allowed a process of rephotography in the field, a process that uncovered as much about the original archive as it did about the present condition of the sites.     


Pafos theatre Cavea, full moon, April 2006. Pigment inkjet print on cotton rag (from digitised 4x5 film positive) 900 x 1400 mm. edition of 5 (printed 2017)

As a freelance artist I have worked as an archaeological illustrator and photography. Which complimented my practice as a visual artist interested in sites of Contemporary in archaeology Sydney and Australia more broadly. Since 2014 I have been lecturer in photography and media arts at the Australian National University School of Art in Canberra, Australia. Here my research interests have pivoted around digital technologies particularly inkjet printing and the role of more traditional artisanal practices such as printmaking bookmaking how these interface with new software and hardware. Prince in this exhibition were printed using modified engine software at the Australian National University inkjet research facility which I am a key researcher. 

Looking back over the last two decades of my involvement in the Pafos excavation I can see  the experience have had an indelible influence on my ongoing practice is an artist and my ways of working in the studio or in the field. I continue to be interested in landscape history and the intersection of material culture and the built environment as a means of reading deeper patterns of use and occupation.

These three images are from the artist’s viewpoint, in lighting and composition – an archaeological photo would never be taken under moonlight at an oblique angle, a viewpoint influenced by the archaeological sublime rather than a technical approach. 

“Photography has always had this uncanny ability to render the deep past and present in one image. I am interested in how the photography of sites is used as a memory aid, as a historical resource, as well as a reflective form of art.” 

Rowan Conroy Woodhouse Rephotography Project, Australian Centre of Photography, Artguide August, 2013




making design research 

Australian National Universtiy School of Art and Design Gallery Feb 14-24 2017

I have a big print (3010 x 1118mm) from my Weereewa / Bad Water  series in the exhibition making design research. I wrote this ongoing project of mine in Art Monthly Australiasia 294 Nov 2017. Many thanks to our Design workshop academics Geoff Hinchcliff and Mitchell Whitelaw for curating such a diverse and fascinating exhibition. 


Installation view Untitled from the series Weereewa / Bad water  2016. 3010 x 1180 mm pigment print on cotton rag



opening Sunday 28 September @ Barometer Gallery



My next solo exhibition Natura Naturans features photographic works that were made during the New South Wales firestorms of 17 October 2013. At the time Prime Minister Tony Abbot commented that firestorms are a natural part of the Australian landscape and this was simply nature going about its business, nature naturing. The reality of human induced climate change challenges these enlightenment notions of the sublime in nature. Now when we gaze at up at the clouds we can no longer be sure that what we are seeing is nature in its purest form free from the influence of human action. Scientists now regard this influence on the atmosphere as so conspicuous that we have entered a new geological epoch -  the anthropocene.  We as a species have not only marked the land we have changed the physiognomy of the sky. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a superb essay by Dr Martyn Jolly, Head of Photography and Media Arts, ANU School of Art.  

Show runs 28 September - 11 October 2014 at Barometer Gallery in Paddington 




 Work Selected for the Bowness Photography Prize


The Lookdown, Bungonia (after Fan K'uan), diptych. Pigment prints on Cotton rag. Edition 1/5. 110 x 250 cm (both panels) Rowan Conroy 2013.

The Lookdown at Bungonia is located on the edge of the Morton national park, a rugged area 170 kms south of Sydney, part of the Shoalhaven river system. I was intrigued by the form of the landscape of this area, which is dominated by weather worn limestone escarpments. In this work the two faces of the gorge are presented. On the left the seemingly pristine and rugged mountainous cliff, that recalled in my mind the famous landscapes paintings by the 10th century Chinese artist Fan K'uan. On the right is the Bungonia limestone quarry. A structure carved out of the land in monumental steps, giving it the appearance of an inverted ziggurat. 

Rowan Conroy January 2014



This work was previously  selected for exhibition in the 38th Alice Prize 2014 at the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs. The 38th Alice Prize exhibition opened on Friday 9 May 2014 at the Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, and was judged Dr Michael Brand, Director of the Art Gallery of NSW.






My Woodhouse Rephotography Project  is still on exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography until 17 November. The show has had an overwhelming response from the public. 

The next iteration of my Woodhouse Rephotography Project will be on view at the Australian Centre for Photography from the 31 August. 


Barometer Exhibition until 23 June 2013:

Untitled from the series Bungonia, 2013. 1200 x 1500 mm Pigment print on Cotton rag paper. 


Upcoming exhibition:  The Woodhouse Rephotography Project @ The Australian Centre for Photography. 1 Sept - 17 Nov 2013 

In September 2013 the Australian Centre for Photography will stage a major exhibition of works from the Woodhouse Rephotography Project. There will be an accompanying monograph with interviews and essays. Stay tuned... 



Head on Photo festival: BACK TO THE GARDEN


Rowan Conroy. Glasshouse study # 1 pigment print on cotton rag edition of 5 + 2 AP, 410 x 560 mm, 2012 




Recent exhibition @ Chapter House Lane Melbourne:



1  March - 1 April  2012 

OPENING NIGHT 6-8pm thursday 1st March, please join us to celebrate the opening:



Virtual Room Sheet 


(far left window) Untitled # 8, from the Series Athina 2012 pigment print on cotton rag paper  

1100 x 1800 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs   $1850.00 ea

610 x 900 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs   $1200.00 ea



(middle window)

Untitled # 5, from the Series Athina 2012 pigment print on cotton rag paper 

1100 x 2540 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs   $2850.00 ea

610 x 1250 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs $1450.00 ea


(far right window)

Untitled # 3, from the Series Athina 2012 pigment print on cotton rag paper

1100 x 2400 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs $2850.00 ea

610 x 1250 mm edition of 10 + 2 artists proofs $1450.00 ea


Artist Statement

These three images from the series Athina, depict the high-density construction endemic to the modern day metropolis of Athens where I lived for 10 months. During this time, I became increasingly fascinated with photographing Athens from the natural vantage points of Lycabettus and Philopapou, two spurs of rock that arise in the central suburbs of Athens. From these elevated perspectives the urban landscape of Athens takes on the appearance of calcified accretion on the earth. These three images, present the viewer with a horizon-less, abstract ‘all-over’ rendition of Athens from on high. My interest in the organic patterns and self-organisation of the urban landscape was the motivation for this series, a subject that is not unique to Athens, but Athens exemplifies this phenomenon in a particularly stunning fashion. The high-rise concrete apartment block is the most common architecture in Athens, similar designs are endlessly repeated, with minor genetic variations.  In observing this I began to think how much the city is analogous to the structures made by non-human life forms such as ants, corals or lichen. Humans too are colonies of organisms that grow and replicate and eventually spread across the land, in this case inhabiting every available crevice. These images are a call to contemplate the physiognomy of the built environment. The look of such urban density conjures in our minds the current concerns about sustainability, climate change crisis, and population growth. This is all the more potent given the historical weight given to Athens as the birthplace of European civilisation. 

The concept of photography as a means to record the archaeology of the present was central to my recent PhD research. The archaeology of the present can be defined as the recent past manifested in the physical material culture of the present. The archaeology of the present addresses the archaeological potential of everyday sites of human work and habitation and contemporary ruins. Evidence for the archaeology of the present is ubiquitous. The continual unfolding of history is witnessed in the sediment of the everyday. In these images from Athina, we come face to face with the visual outcome of decades of modern development, Athens' own archaeology of the present, and one that is quite distinct from its classical past.  




Past exhibition @ Barometer gallery Paddington: