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Portrait of the Painter Tony Fomison at Tai Tapu, Banks Peninsula, 1972

Photograph (taken using the Art School's Linhof camera) Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Purchased 2007

“I learned bugger all at art school. Tom Palaskas, a fellow student, taught me how to develop film and print. I taught myself how to use cameras. Then I discovered the art schools 4 x 5-nch Linhof plate camera and taught myself how to use that. That changed everything. That was the future. Large-format photography. Analogue.”

Mark Adams (b. 1949, Christchurch)

DipFA, 1970

Photographer

Interviewed by Peter Vangioni
August 2007

I attended the School of Fine Arts from 1967 to 1970. I Majored in graphic design so I could do photography. There was no separate photography major in those days. My lecturers were Morris Askew, Mike Kitson, Tony Bisley. In the first year I had Doris Lusk, Eileen Mayo, Tom Taylor, Don Peebles, Dick Lovell-Smith. My fellow students were Chris Booth, Phil Clairmont, Boyd Webb, Neil Dawson, Jim Barr, Graham Bennett, Murray Hedwig. In social terms, the SCUB (Sketch Club) Fine Arts Ball was a riot.

I was looking at English and American fashion and art photographers like Bill Brandt, Man Ray and Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, the London scene. I wasn't really interested in developments in any international art and didn't feel in touch with much of it except the international pop and rock and blues music scene – Dylan, Hendrix, The Beatles, Howling Wolf – and its cross-over into the Pop art scene though. I was interested in literature, nineteenth and twentieth century mostly.

After art school I got interested in painting through Tony Fomison and later Theo Schoon.

I learned bugger all at art school. Tom Palaskas, a fellow student, taught me how to develop film and print. I taught myself how to use cameras. Then I discovered the art schools 4 x 5-inch Linhof plate camera and taught myself how to use that. That changed everything. That was the future. Large-format photography. Analogue.

I imagined I would be a photographer after I left art school. I am a photographer.

If I hadn't attended art school I would have missed out on my peer group and the opening out of the sixties cultures and their political ferment. The art school was no use in teaching me art but good at teaching me a world beyond the shut-down world of 1950s 1960s Christchurch.