I was recently asked by the American publication The Smithsonian Magazine to shoot a cover story featuring Tasmania and Tasmania’s world famous MONA Museum. I was asked to document Hobart, shoot the Mona museum and some portraits of its notoriously camera-shy owner David Walsh and then afterwards make my way up to the Freycinet Peninsula to document the award winning Sapphire Hotel, Wineglass Bay and the incredible surrounding landscapes. The article can be read here.
Unfortunately due to the location agreements I had to sign with MONA and the Sapphire Hotel, the pictures I took were only allowed to be published in the Smithsonian Magazine so I’ve just put in a few landscape shots from the trip.
I had no idea what to expect before I met David Walsh, owner of the MONA museum in Hobart. I couldn’t find much about him before I went to the shoot except that he had created his wealth as a professional gambler and that the museum was actually his personal art collection. I also knew that he hated meeting photographers and having his picture taken and that his persona, at least in print, was that of a recluse. His assistant Delia had warned me that I might only have 10 minutes tops to shoot him. When he finally arrived I immediately took a liking to him and I had one of the most interesting conversations I’d had in years and we ended spending almost 2 hours talking and shooting. We talked about the spirit and energy behind collectors and collecting and the function of art. The conversation bounced around from game theory to physics to ancient seafaring and trade and I left the shoot wishing I could spend a lot more time listening to him.
Afterwards I got the chance to meet former Violent Femmes bass player, Brian Ritchie, who now lives in Tasmania and coordinates music events for MONA and for much of the Hobart music scene. He and his wife Valuni Kulasakera own the best tea company in Australia, Chado Tea, and they welcomed me into their home so that I could shoot a portrait of Brian for the story, drink some tea and reminisce about our favorite Milwaukee haunts.
I only had a few days to shoot in Tasmania but it was so beautiful and the people were so friendly that I definitely plan to return soon.