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Rest in Peace: Ian Poole

Ian Poole, a luminary of the Australian photo industry, has sadly passed away.

Ian Poole, self portrait, 2006.

Ian made significant contributions to Australian photography – not just as a Queensland photographer, but also as a teacher and mentor, writer, curator, a critic and judge, an aficionado of the art, and an active participant in industry groups.

Ian’s family have organised an event on March 25, 6pm onward, for those who wish to farewell and remember Ian.

The Green Beacon, 26 Helen Street, Teneriffe, Brisbane QLD
Date & Time
Sunday, March 25, from 6pm onwards
People are encouraged to take along their favourite photo of Ian. A cash bar will be in operation with craft beers, Granite Belt wines and cider. Food trucks will also be on hand.

ProCounter has republished, with permission, a eulogy by Ian’s close friend, Doug Spowart, along with a passage by AIPP Honours Committee member Ian van der Wolde, which outlines but a few of the late photographer’s contributions that earned him the title of Honarary Fellow at the AIPP in 2017.

Ian Poole photographer: Eulogy by Doug Spowart

I was over in Wellington New Zealand attending the Photobook NZ conference when our mutual friend Simon Woolf came to tell me that Ian had passed away. Vicky Cooper and I had visited Ian at the Mater Hospital a couple of weeks ago, and while Ian was in a difficult place we shared some past experiences. We spoke excitedly about how Ian came out of hospital recently to open Floating at Woolloongabba Art Gallery. It was an important occasion, as the exhibition featured work by his long-term friends Glen O’Malley and Yoshiteru Asai, as well as artworks by Yayu, Ken Yamane’s grand daughter.

Ian Poole at the opening of Floating, with friends Ruby, Asai, Glenn, Joe, and Doug. Photo: Victoria Cooper.

Ian Poole and I shared quite a chunk of history. On hearing the news, whatever I was to do that day in Wellington – and my flight home to Brisbane – my thoughts were with Ian, and his family Louise, Nicola and Denise. What follows is a fragment of our connections and things that I remember about the guy.

My earliest memory of Ian was in the mid 1970s, when I met him working as an employee of Kodak in Brisbane. Ian had formed a commercial photography partnership with Greg Minns and I served him in my early sales position behind a wholesale warehouse counter in the Kodak Fortitude Valley head office. Over time I was to learn of Ian’s pre-commercial work as a part-time wedding photographer for some of Brisbane’s significant studios.
Ian Poole went out on his own in 1976 with the business name Ian Poole does Photography. He shared a studio in an old church in Warren Street, Fortitude Valley with commercial photographer and AIPP devotee and then-federal president, David McCarthy. From there good wine, cigars and Fiats were funded through a diverse range of commercial commissions.

Pinhole portrait of Ian Poole, 1993, by Doug Spowart.

Ian and Denise were married and soon after Nicola was born. A long-term relationship with documentary/art photographer Glen O’Malley strengthened, along with his interest in photography beyond the ‘job’ – for him photography was more than just what you did to earn a living.

Ian Poole and the IAP and the AIPP
Ian joined the Institute of Australian Photography (now AIPP) in 1975. An interesting bit of information about Ian is that he entered the very first Merit Awards (APPA) in 1977, and was awarded a Merit for a high contrast photo of a fuzzy hair-styled, seated, saxophone player. I remember that photo well.

In reflection, I always remember Poole being involved with the AIPP in some capacity, at both the state division level, and in the late 1980s on the National Board. During the 1980s, I served with Ian on the Queensland Divisional Council and remember many council meetings at Imagery Gallery that finished with us discussing the meaning of life and photography. Together, we also contributed to the development of education and training for photography in Queensland and served on many Arts Industry Advisory Council and Curriculum development committees.

Anonymous Torsos exhibition at Imagery Gallery, 1990. Source: Supplied.

Early exhibitions of his work
His interest in personal photography, and in particular the female nude, led to his work being presented in exhibitions. In 1984 I curated an exhibition entitled 5 One man shows, in Stephens Gallery in the Brisbane City Hall. The exhibition included a selection of Ian’s nudes. Later in 1990 his first solo exhibition, Anonymous Torsos, was held in Imagery Gallery, run by myself and my mother, Ruby. He also participated in many group shows in galleries across Australia and Japan.

The Japanese connection
Ian made connections with Japanese photographers through his co-ordination of AIPP events in the early 1980s. This led to an exhibition of 13 photographers organised by Ian and hosted by artist Rick Everingham in his Brisbane studio during Expo 88. Poole followed up this exhibit with an exchange show, Shot from Down Under, at Design Expo in Nagoya, Diacolo Gallery in Osaka and amazingly in the Kodak Salon, the Ginza, Tokyo. Ian coordinated a tour for the participating Queensland photographers who spent about three weeks in Japan travelling with the exhibition, attending the openings, staying with the Japanese photographers’ families and experiencing Japanese life and landscape.

Doug and Ian with the poster for Shot from Down Under. Photo: Victoria Cooper

Working for the Queensland Government
By the early 90s photography was changing and the Queensland Government reviewed all their departments that had employed staff photographers. They decided that only thee photographer positions would be funded into the future. The three positions were advertised in the public domain and Ian, not only applied, but also won a position. It should be noted that Ian around that time completed by part-time study a Graduate Diploma of Visual Art at the Queensland College of Art. The topic of his research was portraits of artists.

Australia Council Residency and session teaching
Poole’s interest in the art of photography needed to be pursued, alongside the day-to-day grind of professional work. After completing the Graduate Diploma, Ian was awarded an Australia Council Artist in Residency in Tokyo, where he immersed himself in his passion for portraiture and Japanese culture.

Ian made this photobook in a workshop with Simon Woolf, along Vicky and doug in 2005. Photo: Doug Spowart.

Ian’s assistants, peers and mentorees
Ian always hired assistants, mentored those seeking advancement of their skills, as well as sessional teaching at the Queensland College of Art and the Queensland University of Technology. His endorsement of professional practice meant that through his patronage and support, many of the Institute’s significant photographers came into the AIPP fold.

Poole and the Australian Professional Photography Awards
Soon after I became Chairperson of the APPAs in 1990, I championed the development of judge training, and the need for judges to extend their understanding and appreciation of the art as well as professional practice.

Into this space I brought Ian – he had the ideas, debating skills, knowledge and understanding of art to help with this aesthetic transformation of APPA. His dedication to ensuring that the entrant who made special works, in Ian’s opinion, got a fair hearing. I’ve spoken to many awards entrants, at all levels, and they have a story about Ian ‘going in to bat’ for one of their works.

Ian skills as a judge and inspirational speaker were recognised by New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography and he became an Australian judging ambassador for the NZIPP Awards.

Ian and others at Toowoomba TAFE doing final year assessments. Photo: Doug Spowart.

Support for TAFE Toowoomba and Nicola’s study
As a teacher in the photography programs at the TAFE college in Toowoomba, I was always privileged to have Ian, along with many other professional photographers and artists, carry out the final holistic assessment of students’ work, as well as endorse and support my institution.

Nicola Poole, Ian’s daughter, and Doug. Photo: Doug Spowart.

When Ian’s daughter Nicola wanted to pursue photography, Ian arranged to bring her to Toowoomba – suggesting this is where she needed to be. Over the next two years, in 2003, she completed her diploma studies with the Graduating Student of the Year Award.

Foto Frenzy
Ian formed Foto Frenzy, a workshop and event business, with a small group of photography identities including Darren Jew, Tony Holden, Cam Attree and Susan Gravina from Brisbane Camera Hire, and I was honoured to open the enterprise. Later, Vicky and I were invited as Artists in Residence for a month in 2013. While we were at Foto Frenzy we participated in workshops, re-configured the premises into a camera obscura, made 10×8 Polaroid Impossible Project images and held an exhibition of our photobook and image work.

Left: Team Foto Frenzy. An Impossible Project 10×8 Polaroid by Doug Spowart. Right: Ian photographs Doug, captured by Victoria Cooper.

John Oxley Library donation
One of many things undertaken by Ian that many may not be aware of is his donation of his professional photography archive to the John Oxley Library at the State Library of Queensland. For quite a few years he has been going into the library to unpack and catalogue the work so that it can be successfully searched and retrieved into the future.

Now much of Brisbane’s cultural history, from buildings to fashion, ballet and theatre, portraits of the rich and famous and those curious dated art-directed advertisements of the 1970s and 80s, are there as a document of our times.

I’ve been around professional photography for nearly 50 years and I’ve seen the disappearance of numerous professional photographers and their businesses – but what of their photographs – lost? Not Ian’s work, which he has given in an altruistic act for Queenslanders and their history.

Ian Poole, Diane Byrne and Eric Victor at the State Library of Qld looking at prints by Richard Stringer. Source: Supplied.

In conclusion…
I was always fascinated by Ian’s business name – ‘Ian Poole does photography’, we now know he did much more.

At this time I, and many others, will reflect on and remember Ian Poole
His legacy will continue on in all of us. – Doug Spowart

Editor’s note: Doug has published an extended series of photos, along with more content relating to Ian, on his blog where this passage was originally published. Click here to check it out.

Ian van der Wolde’s article, written for the AIPP Journal October 2017 issue, upon Ian Poole awarded AIPP Honours for his service to the industry.

Ian Poole: Honorary Fellow by Ian van der Wolde
In 1959, a teenage boy named Ian Poole was brought by his parents from a North Queensland sugar cane town down to Brisbane. In 1964, following an overly optimistic hire purchase of a Nikon F and Metz 504 flash gun, he was working weekends at weddings and social parties.

They were all razor sharp photos because f11 plus full charge flash with no umbrellas, shapers or diffusers did that for you! The sadness, Ian said, is that many of these poorly executed photographs survive in photo albums around Brisbane, because they were printed on archival, double weight fibre-based black and white paper!

By 1972, Ian was in partnership with another young photographer, whilst they attempted to blitz the Brisbane market. Or more a case of shooting weddings, parties, portraits, commercial, used cars or anything to stay alive.

In 1975 Ian Poole joined the Institute of Australian Photographers (IAP), being nominated by Institute luminary David McCarthy. In 1976 he was co-opted onto the Queensland Council of the IAP. He was a member of that council at various times for 22 years, holding the office of Queensland president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor and education officer.

From 1984 to 1989 he was a member of the Australian Federal Council, the equivalent of today’s Board. In that time Ian was treasurer and vice-president. From 1978 to 2005, he variously represented the Institute on many photographic college, university and TAFE advisory committees, including writing the syllabus for three subjects for Queensland TAFE. In 1986 he was Australian Delegate to the World Photographic Conference in Cologne, West Germany. In 1996 he was the recipient of an Australia Council of the Arts Residency – four months of photographic research in Tokyo, Japan.

From 1997 to 1999, Ian was a member of the APPA Committee. In 2004 he produced, on behalf of the AIPP Board of Directors, a review of the Australian Professional Photographer of the Year Award – Judging the Future. Since 1986 he has judged most years at APPA. He entered the very first APPA and was awarded a silver. He was part of the organising committee that ran the first test APPA at the HYPO Convention held on the Gold Coast 1977.

He has judged, panel chaired, trained judges and participated in print critique events. He has judged in most states of Australia and been an active and respected judge and chair at the New Zealand Iris Awards for 10 years. He was made an Honorary Member of NZIPP in 2014. He has been a judge or panel chair at the Queensland Awards since their inception in 1990.

Ian has delivered lectures or workshops at various towns in Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston and Perth, as well as three speaking tours of New Zealand and one in Japan. He has been an exhibiting photographic artist in nine solo exhibitions and 34 group exhibitions, in Australia, New Caledonia, China and Japan, and has curated nine photographic exhibitions.

In 1993, he was awarded the post-graduate degree of G.Dip Visual Arts from Griffith University and CN404 – Instructional skills from Southbank Institute of TAFE, Brisbane. As a part-time photographic lecturer, he worked for 19 years at the College of Art, Griffith University and subsequently for five years at the Queensland University of Technology. Ian was awarded Master Photographer (MNZIPP), New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography in 2016 and his currently one of the assessors of new members for the Institute. Ian van der Wolde

Ian Poole, rest in peace.

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