I AM. by Keren Dobia

at The Outside Gallery

I AM. is a large-scale photographic portrait series by Keren Dobia whose larger-than-life portraits are a feast for the eyes, inviting you to jump into the rabbit hole that is Dobia’s “more is more” portrait style. Through her portraits and accompanying stories, you can discover the personal spaces and personalities that make up a cross-section of rich artistic communities. Keren’s background in painting, drawing and fashion design allow her to create intricate environmental portraits, that often blur the line between photography and illustration. Keren’s creativity extends to the design and fabrication of costumes and sets. With a natural attention to detail and her award-winning photographic skills Keren moulds her inspirational work from concept to completion.  

Accompanying stories written by Tracey Seath.

'The Photographer'

– Keren Dobia

Before she became a professional photographer, Keren dabbled in fashion design. It was when she realised she preferred photographing her designs to making them, that Keren knew it was time for a rethink, and she applied to Melbourne Polytechnic to study for a Diploma in Photography. Keren has a background in the arts, with painting and drawing, and she studied photography at high school, so professional photography presented a logical way to combine the many art forms that appealed to her, in one medium.

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'The Jeweller'

– Victoria Edgar

Two weeks before Victoria Edgar was to begin an Arts Degree at the University of Melbourne, fate intervened.  Searching for a course where she could learn hands-on skills, Victoria chanced upon an extraordinary display of beautifully handmade metal objects and jewellery at RMIT, and it changed the direction of her life.  Victoria immediately inquired about RMIT’s Gold and Silversmithing Course, but discovered all places had been filled. So enthusiastic was she about the course, that she talked her way into becoming the thirteenth student in a class intended for twelve.

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'The Paper Sculptor'

– Ray Besserdin

Ray Besserdin’s lifelong passion for paper has led to international recognition. As well as winning numerous overseas awards, including first prize for a 3D artwork in Florida this month, Ray has recently been named the Australian Ambassador for Mondial Art Academia in France.  A number of high profile organisations have commissioned Ray’s sculptures, including Macquarie Bank, Woolworths, NRMA, the Ford Motor Company and the Northern Territory Government.

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'The Chair Balancer'

– Ciara Thorburn

Ciara Thorburn’s love of performance art developed while she was at university, studying Art History and Theory.  Performers from the University of New South Wales Circus Society (CIRCUSOC) captured Ciara’s imagination—especially the fire spinners—and so Ciara mastered the art herself. 

“When I first found fire spinning I [just thought], ‘well, I’m in this for the long term’. I had the feeling that I was never, ever going to stop.”

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'The Toy Tinkerer'

– Stephen Ives

Stephen Ives’ aptitude for art was clear while he was still at high school; however, this was stymied somewhat by the expectations of the structured learning environment. Stephen’s true creativity came to the fore in his mid- to late twenties, and with the encouragement of his friends his talent reemerged.

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'The Filmmaker'

– John Richardson

John Richardson (88) is an accomplished documentary filmmaker, who is now retired.  The hundreds of film reels pictured in this portrait represent one-third of the total number he made during his career.

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'The Taxidermist'

– Ashlee Duggan

Ashlee Duggan’s interest in taxidermy began with her study of illustration.  Pen and ink drawings for anatomy led to a search for bones to use as a reference for her work.  An interest in tanning animal skins then led to a desire to preserve whole animals.  With no options to study taxidermy in Australia, Ashlee went to Oregon in the United States where she completed a course in the art.  Upon her return to Australia, Ashlee asked an experienced local taxidermist to take her on.  While the course taught her the basics, Ashlee explains that it takes a lot of time to master the art.  

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'The Fashion Designer'

– Nixi Killick

Nixi Killick describes herself as an “imagineer”.  Growing up in a circus, surrounded by her artistic family, provided a wealth of inspiration for her fabulously colourful and imaginative creations, which have been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga and Sia.

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'The Boatbuilder'

– Greg Blunt

The ancient industry of shipping and boat building was the cornerstone of Hobsons Bay for generations. As early as the 1860’s, Williamstown had 13 slips for boatbuilding and pier accommodation for 40 vessels. Greg Blunt is the 5th generation of Blunts to hone his boat building craft at Williamstown’s 163-year-old C Blunt Boats.

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'The Muralist'

– Mike Makatron

Mike Maka is a trained artist and painter who is best known for his eye-catching murals. An art scholarship to New York as a 20-year-old exposed Mike to a wide range of street art, and ultimately inspired him to create vibrant, large-scale artworks. Mike’s art is influenced by the natural world; it encourages people to push back against the built environment and to reconnect with nature.  His works often depict the fusion between nature and technology.

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