Les Irwig Photography

Biography & Artist Statement


Contact & Purchase Information

SEA BREAK. Exhibited Jul to mid-Aug 2016
BUSH. Exhibited Sep15-Jun16
SEA. Exhibited Sep15-Jun16
Boronia bokeh
Other images
Biography & Artist Statement

Artist statement for SEA BREAK

The Sneaky Grind
Chelsea Lane
3/48 Old Barrenjoey Rd
! JULY TO 13 AUGUST 2016 !

weekdays 7am to 4pm
Sat 7am to 3.30pm
Sun 8am to 12.30pm

Click on the SEA BREAK tab on the left to view some of the work.
All artwork consists of archival photographic prints. Each artwork is signed and edition limited, usually to 4 prints, plus Artist Proofs. Most prints are mounted in white float frames 1 metre wide.

Some images of the previous exhibitions of SEA and BUSH photographs can be viewed by clicking on those tabs.

About the SEA BREAK exhibition

The sea quietens the turbulence of the soul. There is something mindful and soothing in the ebb and flow of the water, whether one is watching from the shore or immersing oneself more actively in the experience. And nowhere is this more true than in Australia, a country surrounded by water, where the sea is a large part of the national psyche.

I think of my photographs as ‘Extracts’ of the Sea. They may appear to be abstract but that is only in comparison to photographs in which the water appears textureless because of slow shutter speeds or frozen by high shutter speeds. It is these latter photographs that I regard as abstractions, though they are usually seen as reality in our screen-and-image-saturated world. A photograph made in camera, as mine are, rather than being digitally created later, cannot be abstract according to Ansel Adams who chose to use the word ‘Extract’.

The camera technique I use has a long history. It was pioneered over a century ago by the Bragaglia brothers, who coined the term ‘Photodynamism’. As Lyle Rexer puts it in The Edge Of Vision:
“… this approach overcame what they called the “rigor mortis” of the discrete image …the point was not to mimic reality but to unmask it, and only the paradox of an image that contained motion but did not stop time had the power to do that.”
from: http://tracesofthereal.com/2011/01/24/they-called-it-photodynamism/

I want my images to show what we truly see, what our minds interpret and how our emotions respond. I hope they resonate with viewers whose souls are nourished by the ocean wave.



Les’s photographs reflecting the spirit of the Australian beach and bush have received many awards including ‘highly honoured’ in the prestigious Windland Rice Smith International Awards run by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA in 2008. The image is published in their Nature’s Best Photography book which includes the top 100 photographs out of 20,000 entries. Les was the winner of the 2009 $6000 Murrurundi Photographic Prize. One of Les’s pictures was chosen for exhibition in the NSW Parliament in 2011 as a finalist in the NSW Plein Air Photographic competition.

His images were selected for exhibitions of the Australasian Nature Photographer of the Year collection at the South Australian Museum and inclusion in the Australasian Nature Photography Book published by the South Australian Museum and CSIRO in 2009, 2012 and 2015. Les has had several group and solo exhibitions and his work is held in collections in Australia, England, South Africa and North America.

He lives in Sydney, where his work is inspired by his family, the sea and the surrounding Australian bush.

Examples of exhibitions since 2005

• 'Vivid' Gallery Xposure, Rozelle July-Aug 2005.
Joint exhibition with two other photographers. The exhibition was listed both in ’10 things to do’ in the Good Weekend section of the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald and the ‘Plan your weekend’ section of the Sun Herald.

• 'Spring' Yuga, Glebe Sep-Oct 2006.
Solo exhibition.

• 'Preludes' Freeland gallery, Paddington Feb-Mar 2007.
The only photographer in a combined exhibition with three ceramic artists.

• Freeland gallery Dec 2008 - Jan 2009.
The only photographer with several ceramic artists.

• 'Bush Spirit' Chifley Tower May-June 2011
A joint exhibition with an African abstract painter in the imposing foyer of a major office block in the Sydney CBD

• 'webs water woods' Martha's May 2012
This exhibition introduced photographs showing light diffracted though spider-webs creating stunning natural designs.

• 'SPRING!' Aurora Place Sep to Nov 2015.

• 'SUMMER!' Aurora Place Oct 2015 to Feb 2016.

• ‘NURTURING NATURE’ Willoughby Council Foyer Exhibition Space. June 2016

Other publications

• Les’s work has appeared on the front cover of books published by the Australian Government and by Blackwell publishing in the UK.
• Examples of his social documentary work are being used by Artslaw to illustrate legal issues in photography in public places, e.g.
Artslaw Street Photographer's rights and
Artslaw Children in the creative process

Examples of Competition successes since 2005

• Willoughby environmental photography competition, NSW 2006.
2nd and 4th prize.
Several photographs were purchased by Willoughby Council and one was also selected for outdoor environmental display, Ferndale Park.

• Windland Rice Smith International Awards: Nature’s Best Photography,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA 2008
Selected as ‘highly honoured’ and appearing in the Nature’s Best Photography book, which includes the top 100 photographs out of 20,000 entries.

• WetlandCare Australia National Photography competition 2009
3rd prize

• Murrurundi Photographic Prize, NSW 2009
Winner, first prize $6000
Winner, Murrurundi Arts Council’s Choice Award

• NSW Parliamentary Plein Air Photographic Prize finalist 2011.
Exhibited at NSW Parliament.

• Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum, London.
Reached semifinals in 2014

• ANZANG [Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea]
Selected for exhibition at the South Australian Museum and inclusion in the Australasian Nature Photography Book published by the South Australian Museum and Government and CSIRO in several years: 2009, 2012 and 2015.