Melbourne is quick to talk up its lane way art. It’s therefore a thrill that a gallery can claim a presence as both street and public art while still maintaining some well lit white walls. Chapter House Lane, the contemporary art space tucked into the side of St. Paul’s Cathedral and nestled between the acclaimed Little King Cafe, is home to the fabulous photography series by Jackson Eaton titled ‘Melfies.’
On the steps of the cathedral,Eaton sat down to talk selfies, Melbourne and the lovely space that is Chapter House Lane.
What has led you to being a photographer?
“I didn’t go to art school, I grew up in WA and studied psychology. I was doing post-grad physcology and decided that wasn’t fulfilling in a certain way. I decided I had a certain creative fire that needed stoking. I ended up dropping out of university to teach English in South Korea. It was there that I started taking a lot of photos and started to develop my art practice.
That was about 6 years ago now. Since then I’ve been involved with
a few group projects, I started to get some recognition via the internet so it was nice being overseas and having the connection develop with a more global network first. Then when I came back to Perth to live in 2009 I was ready to tackle doing something new there. I had a few solo shows, a few in commercial galleries in Perth. This year I moved to Melbourne to get more exposure to the east coast and develop my art practice a bit more.
Melfies is definitely a play on selfies. I did think it was a real word that meant ‘mirror selfies.’ It sometimes refers to man-selfie or mirror-selfie or Melbourne-selfie, I don’t know!
Melfies refers to society as a mirror and your everyday life, who you react with and the idea of society as a mirror. There are 10 works on display here, and around 24 in the series which you can see on my
website. The process was thinking about my everyday life and the situations you find yourself in on an everyday level. People have a certain access to information about you which may be limited or restricted. I went about my everyday life looking for those situations as a preconceived notion as well. The series blends between spontaneous documentary photography and staged.
In each portrait I’d hand the camera over to the person I’d want to take the photo, whether it be the grocery store attendant, or the curator of a gallery or my boss at work, my mum, whoever. I’d have the idea of the image in mind, I’d pose or preform for the photo and then select the images afterwards for the series. It was an insight into how we construct our identity based on these accumulations of evidence that exist in our everyday life. What picture do we get of someone and is that sufficent to understand a person or even ourselves?
Chapter House Lane kindly asked me to exhibit here, it was good timing as I was moving to Melbourne around the same time. I had a show in Melbourne last April at the House of Bricks for the new Independent Photography Festival. It’s a show I had in Perth and toured it over here. I’m always on the look out for further exhibitions.
Chapter House Lane is an interesting space to show in, I really like the uniqueness of the window box format. But it does have the draw back of restricting deeper engagement if you want to, there’s not a lot of information on display. There is some information at Little King Cafe next door but it’s not always open.
I think it’s a really great use of limited public space to make a gallery out of. The Director is Louise Klerks and the Managing Director is Amy Rudder and they’ve been great to work with. They’re dedicated to the promotion of local artists. They put so much of their own time in, which is always the case with these kind of spaces, they’re nothing without the passion of people running them. It’s not a commercially driven space at all (the works are for sale however! Contact Jackson here).”
‘Melfies’ runs until March 31st, make sure to pop by!
Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!