Stories from inside life's big top.

Posts from the “photography” Category

Radical Acts of Remembrance

Posted on January 3, 2020

A fantastic thing has come out of making From A Whisper To A Bang!   A slew of people have taken to visiting the grave of my great-uncle, Richard “Charles” Spencer, Private, 5218, AIF, (1899-1918). Generous strangers all, asking for nothing in return.   Something I never considered when I began making this podcast series about remembrance, three years ago with the welcome of 2020.   Richard’s final resting place is in the small CWGC cemetery of Spoilbank, a few kilometres south of Ypres in Belgium. I tell his story in Episode 03: ‘City As War Memorial’. Thousands of people in Australia and all over the world have listened to it.   Sad and astonishing as it is, it is a gateway into something…

Second Life: Karen Lynch

Posted on December 4, 2018

Earlier this year, after travelling many miles and relocating for the umpteenth time in my life, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a lovely act of kindness.   It happened when I met Australian collage artist Karen Lynch in person for the first time.   I’d recently moved to the “southern creep” of Adelaide, Karen’s home city. On a sunny day in May we arranged to catch up in one of the sleepy seaside villages between our respective suburbs that only ‘the locals’ know about.   We’d been ‘virtual’ blogging buddies for 4 years, encouraging each other and interacting as co-members of the very first intake of Pip Lincolne‘s ‘Blog With Pip’ (an online “how to” course for bloggers),…

Fairground Attraction: Mark Ogge

Posted on December 15, 2017

It’s amazing who you meet in Berlin…   Artists are drawn to the city as if it were a kind of mythic, spiritual ‘big top’, seeking artistic inspiration, like-minded community and creative challenge. Something I’ve written about time and time again here at Circus Folk!   Mark Ogge is one such ‘pilgrim’. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia – and the brother of one of my dearest friends – Mark’s an “internationally renowned” mid-career artist with a passion for making images inspired by “the rich history of fairground and theatrical art”, the circus, vaudeville and Commedia dell’Arte.   Having studied all of the above, in 2001 he painted the Famous Spiegeltent Facade under which thousands have sat during Melbourne festivals (and elsewhere around the world). Also…

Musca Volitans

Posted on June 8, 2017

Grief makes you sick Grief makes you sad Grief makes you so filled with sorrow that there’s no room to breathe.   Grief makes you yearn Grief makes you bewildered Grief makes you different –   Grief makes you difficult to be around.   Grief makes you kinder Grief makes you forgiving Grief makes you understand that there is life and Nothing but.   Grief makes you listen Grief makes you see Grief makes you feel Everything, all at once, all the time.   Grief makes you laugh Grief makes you cry Grief makes you cry     Grief makes you cry     Cry     Grief makes you cry like there’s no tomorrow.     Grief makes you wiser Grief makes you…

A Podcast about Precious Objects

Posted on May 15, 2017

“Objects should not ‘touch’ [us] because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.” – Jean-Paul Sartre Auspicious Plastic is a monthly podcast about ‘things’ that bring meaning to our lives, and even make us happy.   When using my Mum’s old Tupperware containers as “grief therapy” after she passed away, I discovered how such simple ‘pieces of plastic’ could hold so much meaning – and emotion. And how these objects touched me so profoundly, as if animated by something deeply mystical…   I wondered how my use of…

Let Them Eat Cake: Lyndal Walker

Posted on January 3, 2017

I’ve always been fond of ‘goo’.   It’s the name of my favorite Sonic Youth album. It’s one of my favorite words, caught somewhere between “coo” and “gum”.   And ‘goo’ has always been one of my favorite things to eat, especially if it’s coloured pastel pink. Growing up in the 70s I consumed my fair share, especially ‘Junket‘, one of my mother’s specialties.   It would arrive as ‘sweets’ at dinner parties, often on the heels of pineapple ham steaks or chicken chow mein. It was the gelatinous, wobbly version of musk sticks, fridge-set, in tall curvy glasses on stems. A sugar coma in the making, us kids couldn’t get enough of it.   All these years later and on the other side…

The Country Inside: Penelope Scanlan

Posted on November 19, 2016

“Greg Miller is one of the photographers who inspires me. I love the aesthetic of his work: the people he photographs are positioned like mannequins and sometimes appear stuck in time. He doesn’t have a huge following on Instagram but he’s one those photographers who deserves a bigger one.”   A degree of urgency accompanies this communiqué. I open my inbox only to have its words leap on me, wiping sweat off their brow. I sit up and take notice.   Sent to me by Australian photographer Penelope Scanlan, this is the last in a raft of emails we’ve sent  each other over an arc of two years. On an unexpected trip back to Australia this year, I manage to get my shit together…

Land of Balconia

Posted on July 6, 2016

Berlin balconies are spectacular – especially in summer. Look up and you’ll witness some of the city’s most creative spaces. You don’t have to be a poet or painter to live here: being a keen home gardener will do just fine.   Balconia: part-urban balcony, part-Narnia – a fantasy land just outside your window (instead of down the back of the wardrobe). A magical space to cheer you up on grey days (and there are many in Berlin), and on long, hot summer nights a paradise where you can find a cool breeze, a grill going and friends over for a feast. In all likelihood Berliners like dogs more than they do people, but they dig their balconies, taking great pride in both their…

A Community Of The Spirit

Posted on June 16, 2016

Bubble Wizard I

There is a community of the spirit. Join it, and feel the delight of walking in the noisy street, and being the noise” (Rumi)

Circus Folk + Flower Punks was a performance and portrait photography exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Berlin, a co-exhibition between myself and Berlin-based Australian music photographer, Kate Seabrook (aka “Flower Punks”). On in the foyer space for three months, it celebrated the various musicians and performers we’d both had the good fortune to photograph over the years, doing what they do best on the stages of Berlin and Australia.

 

I chose 25 colour and black-and-white photographs to go up on those dignified walls. Opening on International Women’s Day 2016 (March 8), it ran until May 27, which in my estimation officially makes this Embassy “the most rock on the planet”.

 

The images I included enthusiastically embrace those among us who venture into the world high of spirit, with something delicious to say, dressed in the accoutre of the unabashed and the fearless. Regardless of which city they call home, the individuals pictured below share fascinating everyday stories that speak of the passion, inspiration and courage cultivated by their artistic calling. They beguile, bewitch and  enrich our lives; they entertain and engage us in the ‘tough’ conversations, often without much in return. They are a community of marvellous misfits, whose calling it is to connect us all, through moments of empathy, insight, beauty and mirth.

 

I’m grateful to all those I documented, and to the staff at the Australian Embassy in Berlin for the opportunity, and support. Many thanks also to my collaborator Kate Seabrook, my husband Oliver Budack for his endless encouragement, and to everyone who came along and supported the exhibition.

  • Click: on the photos for titles and complete credits.
  • Digital inquiries or photo orders: hello@themeganspencer.com
  • Words & images: Megan Spencer (c) 2013 – 2015
  • Copyright: all images are subject to copyright and may not be republished or reproduced without express permission of the copyright owner, Megan Spencer.
  • Feel free: to link to the images, but please don’t steal!
  • Read: ‘A Community of the Spirit’ in full.
Alessandro Eramo Amelia Jane Hunter Another_Other Bubble Wizard II Day of the Dead grrrls Hanna Nordqvist Hannah Day Hannes, Phia & Jonny Janni Froese_B&W Janni Froese_COL Jenny Divers Jeremy Conlon Leon Cole B&W Leon Cole COL Maria White Modern Secular Reasons To Sing 2013 copy Marie Hirondelle Molly & Liliana Oliver Phia & The Dienstag Choir Roc Roc-It Rosalind Hall The Cannanes Tim Peters Wasp Summer

Girl To The Front: Kate Seabrook

Posted on April 6, 2016

“Australia-born, Berlin-based photographer with a fetish for metro systems, giant strawberries and punk rock.”   With characteristic word economy, this is the sentence Kate Seabrook uses to describes herself in her photographer profile.   It’s spot on. And characteristically again, just as humble.   Since beginning her photography journey in 2009, Kate has had work published in a slew of Australian and international publications (Mess+Noise, Berliner Morgenpost, Tagesspiegel, Couch, Tip and the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Good Weekend’ among them.) And her epic, independent ‘Endbahnhof’ passion project (photographing the iconic underground stations of Germany and Europe), was recently featured in Berlin-based, literary travel publication, ‘Elsewhere: A Journal Of Place’.   In addition to ‘rockumenting’ music stages on two continents, Kate has a soft spot for…