'The Show Must Go On' - Music photos by Murray Cammick, Photospace Gallery Wellington, 9 April-28 May 2022
FREE ENTRY - There is no cover charge! (Photos are for sale, though.)
After the success of the 2020 Flash Cars show, Murray Cammick returns to Photospace Gallery with a selection of his classic music images. This show is based on the earlier 2017 punk & new wave-focused exhibition that was shown in Sydney and Auckland. Additions to this show include photographs of Bob Dylan, Roxy Music, Kate Bush, Tina Turner and previously unseen Bob Marley images.
The exhibition largely consists of high-quality black and white images printed using the traditional silver-gelatin darkroom process by top New Zealand printer Jenny Tomlin.
The Wellington show has also added a selection of colour photographs of local legends from the 1980s and 1990s, including Herbs and Shihad. These are digital pigment prints.
When RipItUp started in June 1977, co-publisher Cammick and original editor Alastair Dougal were not aware of how radical the changes in music culture would be as the decade ended. Foreign punk / new wave acts like The Ramones, Iggy Pop and Blondie visited and locals like The Suburban Reptiles, The Scavengers and Toy Love put some energy into the scene. These local musicians appeared on the classic New Zealand punk compilation AK•79.
New Zealand musicians were inspired by the success of Split Enz overseas, and original writers like Hello Sailor, Th’ Dudes and Sharon O’Neill found respect for their own songs. In a time of cultural change, RipItUp and Cammick’s camera documented important cultural events such as Bob Marley’s 1979 visit to New Zealand and suburban cultural events like young band The Screaming Meemees playing in a packed North Shore suburban hall.
For those who liked their music raw, seedy local venues were the place to worship. The Zwines and Mainstreet mosh-pits were where alienated youth gathered to enjoy the company of kindred souls. Cammick captures the tribal, sweaty audience as well as the musicians.
Prior to starting RipItUp in 1977, Cammick was the designer of Craccum, Auckland student newspaper in 1976. He studied photography at Elam School of Fine Arts 1973 to 1975 with lecturers John B. Turner and Tom Hutchins who encouraged him to take socio-political photos for the student newspaper. Cammick took the first photos of the Flash Cars series at Elam and learnt a respect for the documentary tradition in photography.
Reflecting on his music photos for the Capture blog, Cammick wrote: “I tried to document the music and the scene as a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary photographer. You either contribute to the myths / bullshit of rock ‘n’ roll or you try and show some of the reality of the grind of promotion and touring. I recall being at Craccum in 1976 and being delighted that our music editor John Robson came back from a press conference with a photo of Frank Zappa drinking a cup of tea. How sublimely un-rock ‘n’ roll!
“Shooting un-rock ‘n’ roll photos became something to aspire to, so I was pleased to get Iggy Pop in his clunky reading glasses laughing at the Talking Heads story in RipItUp magazine. As we arrived at Iggy's White Heron Hotel room he was still in his pyjamas and I sneaked a shot but he heard the camera and made it clear, “No photos in my pyjamas.”
For years I've regretted that I did not capture the glamour of Debbie Harry in my 1977 photos, but now I am starting to appreciate that they show a tired young woman who briefly leaves an international flight in Auckland to do a day’s promo. She is giving copies of the New York “Punk” magazine to the RipItUp writer Jeremy Templer.” Arrive from the USA at dawn – a day of interviews in Auckland, then on a plane to Melbourne for a TV interview that night. That’s life.
“In the early days I chose to define myself as a photographer – an identity for myself – my Minolta SLR camera was almost permanently around my neck,” says Cammick. “I guess that gave me the meaning or status that young people seek in life. I was part of the ‘taking photographs’ gang. In the early days it was easier to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when photographing musicians who were near to my age. As I grew older and got busy as RipItUp editor, it is was enjoyable to give the opportunities to take pix to younger photographers.”
Murray Cammick’s black & white music photography was featured in Art New Zealand Autumn 2015 issue.
When RipItUp decided to put five new bands on the cover of the April 1979 issue the “group” interview soon came upon insurmountable ethical and regional issues. Louise Chunn wrote, “To Chris Knox, expatriate Dunedin boy and don’t ever forget it, Aucklanders don’t dance, they pose rather fast. And anyway Toy Love don’t want to have people showing enthusiasm or approval through dancing. ‘We’d rather stun them,’ said Knox.”
Two Women and Beer Cans, Auckland Uni., 1978
The early 1978, Hello Sailor gig at Auckland University Recreation Centre was excellent – that translates, I thought I had taken some great pix. After the gig I got a cool backstage photo of singer Graham Brazier. I think I was too shy to ask the singer if I could take a photo and he asked me if I wanted to take a photo. As I walked towards the exit, the beer cans caught my eye. Before I pressed the shutter two young women walked into the frame and gave me the photo. The photographer is only one participant in the making of a photo.
TVNZ One News - late news, Monday 11 April - Murray Cammick interview with Larissa Howie
Go to about the 17:30 mark. There will be a couple of adverts before the story
Photography Matters II