Head On — finished

“The feeling is less like an ending than just another starting point.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

I travelled back to Sydney over the weekend to a) see if my Head On exhibition prints were still standing, and b) if they were, take them down and bring them back to Melbourne.

The Head On Photo Festival has been a bittersweet experience for me. The Rebuilding Jay Knight exhibition was my first solo show, so there is a natural amount of excitement that came with that. There was also the added satisfaction of knowing that my exhibition had to be accepted — my images were reviewed by a panel of experienced professionals who deemed them worthy of inclusion in the festival. I can't deny I enjoyed the feeling of validation it generated.

But, the exhibition was in Sydney. The prints were up for three weeks, and, apart from brief moments on the first and last weekend, I didn't really get to experience it. Also, considering the content of the exhibition is so personal, it would have been nice if more of Jay and my friends could have been there to see it.

But enough belly-aching, these are just lessons that will help improve the quality, and my enjoyment, of my next exhibition. For now I'm happy that I just finished my first solo show!

Here's a summary of what happened on my last weekend in Sydney.

1. Artist and subject talk.

Jay joined me on the final weekend for an 'artist and subject talk' about the project. I have no embarrassment in saying that the talk was a big fat failure!

While I tried my best to publicise the event, my network in Sydney is non-existent, and I failed to achieve any traction with the outlets I contacted.

Fortunately, Jay was staying with his cousin and her family, and they insisted we do the talk anyway. Here's a photo of Jay doing his thing.

2. Time for inspiration

After the talk on Friday, I had to wait until Sunday to take the prints down. This gave me a chance to see some of the other Head On exhibitions, and check out the World Press Photo exhibition at the Library.

I walked all over the city to see different exhibitions, and took my camera with me so I could practice a bit of street photography. This is something I used to do regularly, but had let slip due to the terrible excuse of 'busyness'.

It felt good to be out taking photos for the hell of it. A few of my favourites are below.



3. Goodbye Sydney

On Sunday I went to the hospital and took down the prints. They were surprisingly simple to take off, but not easy. The gaffa tape/double sided tap combo proved to be extremely strong, and the only way I could get the prints off was to yank them off with brute force. I'm sure if I'd taken a moment to think about it I could have come up with a more graceful way to remove them, but this was the quickest. It was also the most entertaining, especially for the people waiting in emergency who watched me spend the better part of an hour wrestling my prints off the wall.

Despite the speed at which I took the prints down, I left the hospital behind schedule, and had to hustle if I was going to make my flight on time. I rushed up to Hyde Park to jump on the train at St James Station, and was stopped dead in my tracks by the incredible light filtering through the trees. Despite my tight time schedule, my inner photographer made me stop and take a few photos. It was a nice way to conclude the end of my weekend, and my Head On experience.

Rebuilding Jay Knight: Life after Guillain-Barre syndrome is a photo essay and book by Emma Murray.

See images from the series here.

Read the book here.