Locals have shared their personal stories of sacrifice to photographer William Debois as part of an upcoming exhibition project of photographic portraits and storytelling.
William recently visited the region as part of his RADF funded Artist in Residency visit where he focused on community engagement and exploring personal narratives from which new photographic portraits were be created.
The portraits and stories will be exhibited alongside a selection of existing photographs from the Sacrifice series at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery in September.
Born in France, William first developed an interest in photography at the age of 12 thanks to a second-hand camera and a black and white darkroom in the attic of his family home.
William immigrated to Australia from the UK in 2007 and is now based in Gladstone.
He has been specialising in portraiture and commercial photography for 25 years across four different countries.
Dividing his time between commercial photography and art projects allows William to explore the fascination for both the imposing nature industrial Central Queensland and the subtleties of documenting human life.
His latest project explores the common bond that unites us all through the universal notion of sacrifice, which is also the title of this ongoing series of portraits.
William said that using the central theme of sacrifice, the project aimed to illustrate the diversity of lifestyles, values and aspirations that define the Australian nation, reflecting the complexity of personal narratives.
“I have been working on this multi-year project since early 2020,” he said.
“During this time, Sacrifice has documented sitters with black and white film in front of a backdrop custom-made for the project, collecting the sitters' oral histories of sacrifice.
“A significant portion of the first artworks were created during a road trip from Melbourne, Victoria, to Gladstone in Queensland, covering 1,986km from February to March 2021.
“In each town and for each shoot, I set up my rugged-looking backdrop, fabricated from an old military tarpaulin, photographing sitters using a classic Hasselblad film camera.”
Sacrifice brings together portrait photography and oral histories into a body of work that highlights contemporary social issues.
Through the personal and often powerful stories, participants of the project contribute to an un-curated narrative that brings about universal notions of generosity, hardship, community, commitment, privilege and inequality.
The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.
The Sacrifice exhibition including the introduction of local portraits to the series opens at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery on Friday 1 September 2023.