Melanie Harwood: Beautiful & Broken Pieces and Rhett Harwood-Smith: Wildlife. The Queanbeyan Hive. Until December 15.
Rhett Harwood-Smith was just seven years old when he assumed ownership of his mother's Canon 300D digital camera. He shot wildlife images then in Namibia. Now 13, he chose six of them to exhibit because the animals were looking back at him as curiously as he was looking at them.
I got my first camera, a film Baby Brownie, on my ninth birthday and the images I took with it could not hope to compare with what a 300D equipped with a telephoto lens can do. Nevertheless, I became hooked and I very much hope that Harwood-Smith will retain his interest in photography for many years as I have.
His mother, Melanie Harwood, is exhibiting a very different set of 33 images. She has sought to find beauty in the broken, old and decaying, while seeking cracks in the traditionally beautiful. Rehousing each image in found and foraged, second-hand frames, she has sought to create unlikely matches and surprising scenes. So, has she succeeded in her aim? Absolutely yes.
Harwood doesn't see herself as a "proper" photographer, but a "compulsive dabbler" in creative projects. She used a Canon digital 400D as a tool to create photographic content for large and ornate second-hand frames. She took some of the thousands of photos she had on the hard drive and made use of her passion for second-hand stores and making old and broken things into beautiful pieces of art.
She says, "I use whatever tools I have at hand, drawing from the people and places around me. While the photos tell a story, so do the frames."
Farmville, a soft, almost romantic picture of farmland in Ubud, sparked the idea for Harwood. Having just returned from Indonesia, images from the trip fresh in her mind, she found a Polynesian watercolour in a most unusual golden frame.
Looking at it, she saw potential beauty in rehousing her shiny travel photos in elaborate and unusual frames. She also saw the potential for reframing her "broken" images in glass-free gilded golden frames, many of them vintage.
Once she had the idea, the task was to locate suitable frames and match them to appropriate images. Every frame used has been recycled.
Harwood-Smith told me that she had reused everything possible to rehouse each photo, from matt-board to glass, and even tacking.
Removing the backs from sometimes crumbling frames, she found water damage, remnants of insects and numerous rusty and unidentifiable sharp bits, which she repaired.
All this hard work, from photo to frame, has sometimes created an uncomfortable juxtaposition - when the ugliness of life and decay is pressed close with traditional ornate beauty.
Some of the images would have worked very well in plain frames or simply pinned unmatted and unframed to the walls.
But putting them into recycled and vintage frames has given them an additional dimension. I love the concept of putting beautiful images into beautiful frames.
Likewise, I approve of putting "broken" images into broken frames, now restored.
It is also particularly appropriate that this exhibition is at the Hive, which is an immaculately restored historic cottage, the creation of born and bred local Helen Ferguson.
Looking beyond the battered facade of 274 Crawford Street, she had a vision; to bring the beautiful and quintessential cottage back to life and create a cultural and community arts space.
So here we have "broken" images in restored broken frames exhibited in a restored broken cottage.
Pay a visit and enjoy the beauty created from brokenness.