In Woy Woy there is an abattoir that has been closed since 2003. Photographer Ian Provest has been living in the grounds affectionately known to locals as “The Abbee” for six months and has discovered it’s an extraordinary place to make art.
“I went into this empty cavernous disused space and I was immediately moved by the sheer, cathedral-like structure; the light; and sense of history,” he says. “My imagination and creativity were sparked immediately.”
Provest has found a lot of beauty and peace in the site which sits on the Northern NSW railway line and is surrounded by lyrebirds. There is colour everywhere, most striking are the walls of the slaughter floor that are still painted a vibrant red. However, Provest maintains that the red walls are not a celebration of the history of The Abbee but a way to, “create a space of reflection as well as being interesting graphically.”
After half a year of immersing himself in the grounds, Provest sees no reason to move on anytime soon.
“I have a small flat and a room where I do all my own types of printing,” he says. “They are quality archival prints and they are coming out beautifully with high resolution on quality German papers. It’s been a long road preparing the technical side as well as the creative side. It’s challenging at times.”
“The work comes from a gut feeling,” he continues. “It’s not overly analysed, visceral and yet when it comes to finished print it is highly refined in tone, colour, sharpness and in editing. The work is both dark and light.”
He hopes viewers will take away beauty; space for reflection; an enquiring mind into life; elation; and mystery. (ES)
Until Apr 4, Art Here Photo Media Gallery, 126 Regent St, Redfern, free, 0402 112 755, arthere.com.au