Noah Thompson is an Australian photographer working with expanded modes of documentary making. He recently completed a Bachelor of Photography at Photography Studies College in Melbourne. Coming from a background in political science and with an interest in visual narratives, his work examines the ways in which individual and community circumstance play out amongst broader social, political and cultural events. With an emphasis on slowness through the use of medium format film cameras, Thompson attempts to delve into the cultural and social subtleties of contemporary Australia while informed by the past. Drawing on history to understand and contextualize these nuances, Thompson supplements his own images with archival and found imagery to create his narrative and subsequently hopes to trigger deeper questioning on what constitutes and influences the Australian psyche.
On the night of the 5th of July 1983, it was announced that the major and controversial dam project, the Gordon-below-the-Franklin Dam, would not be allowed to proceed. Following this, a 2,500-year-old Huon Pine, known as the Lea Tree, was vandalised: The tree was chainsawed, holes were drilled in it to pour oil to its roots in and the tree was set on fire. Due to its size, the tree burnt for close to twenty-four hours. The Lea Tree was an iconic symbol for the conservationists who were attempting to protect the area and was attacked by pro-dam interests and daubed with the words ‘FUCK YOU GREEN CUNTS’. Those responsible photographed themselves in front of the still burning tree, sending the photograph to one of the conservation organisations.
HUON is inspired by the conflict between conservation and development in Tasmania, Australia. Reoccurring over the past century and intensifying from the 1970s; the opposition and support of hydroelectric dams, mining operations and the logging of old growth forests have shaped the island state’s politics, social life and landscape. It is a place where the schism of environmental concern and industrial venture has seen violence, industrial sabotage, threats, vandalism, corruption, conspiracy theories and dissension. Some 35 years after its vandalism, the Lea Tree remains, as do the tensions that continue to avail the community.
To view more of Noah Thompson’s work please visit his website.