'Newcastle' by Luke David Kellett published in April 2024

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'Newcastle' by Luke David Kellett published in April 2024
This new book presents a typology of 100 portraits of households in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia taken in 2020.

LONDON.- This new book presents a typology of 100 portraits of households in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia taken in 2020 during some of the strictest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world. The restrictions allowed photographer Luke David Kellett a unique opportunity compile a visual representation of architecture and inhabitants of Newcastle and contribute to a collective memory of the period.

‘I’ve only felt compelled to work on major bodies of photographic work twice in my life, on both occasions I’ve picked up my camera and started shooting. I think it’s my way of understanding what is occurring around me, I use my camera as a bit of a shield and a tool to mentally process situations.’

Each photograph in book was made on large-format camera with great care for uniformity of perspective and framing. Kellett’s intent was to create a structure and consistency which highlighted both the differences and similarities between the architectural details of the town but also allowing the viewer to focus on the individuals without being distracted by a changing composition.

‘Apart from personally loving the uniformity of typologies, everything around the world at the time was chaotic and unknown. Photographing this project as a typology provided some structure that I could cling on to. Pedantically obsessing over the tiny details of matching the images calmed me down, grounded me and gave me focus during a very strange time.’

Due to the conditions of lockdown, Kellett had to develop the large format colour film by hand. This complex process lead to technical flaws and unexpected results in some of the images. He chose to embrace the quirks to help express and represent the surreal circumstances of the time. Each household was interviewed about their circumstances, fears and hopes, and a summary of these is included in the book to provide insight to the residents’ lives at the time. Although the project is specific to one town, it represents the experiences of many international communities during the pandemic.

‘My hope is that the project will stimulate a deeper reflection on our shared humanity in years to come and serve as a reminder of our ability to come together in times of crisis.’

Luke David Kellett was born in Yorkshire in the UK and lives and works in Newcastle, Australia. He began taking photographs in the early 2000s and worked with record labels including Atlantic and Sony, producing album art and press shots for artists in London. In this period he also worked as an assistant to photographer George Ktistakis and as an apprentice at Rapid Eye colour darkroom. He left the UK for Australia in 2008 and began documenting the lives of those who inspired him in Melbourne. The resulting project ‘This City Speaks to Me’ which was acquired by the State Library of Victoria in 2011. After meeting his wife they relocated to Newcastle where they run Headium, a creative agency. His project ‘Newcastle’ was exhibited at Newcastle Museum in 2020 and the follow year the State Library of New South Wales acquired the work for their collection.

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