‘The Wizard’ of Aus bewitches Queensland photo exhibition viewers
The photo of Artie, with sunlight hitting his face, was taken by Dean Saffron.
One shot was all it took for Saffron, who told Brisbane Times that “time is precious” so he takes great care when looking through his lens.
The photographer said he met The Wizard at one of promoter Fred Brophy’s boxing tents, where aspiring boxers could challenge professionals in the ring.
“I was drawn to this character sitting next to a campfire and I spoke to him for hours,” he said.
“He then asked me if I wanted to camel muster and I said ‘why not’. I jumped on a plane and flew out a couple of days later.”
Saffron described Artie as a nomad who would disappear as fast as he appeared.
“There was a crew of four of us and the camels were incredible,” he said.
“When they drink water, they leave a bacteria that’s good for cow’s stomachs and wildlife.
“Our job was to move them on to another property.
“It was quite an incredible experience, with long days on motorbikes and talking around a fire while having a beer or two and listening to past stories.”
Dean Saffron’s photography statement
As a man, I can only live one life, but as a documentary photographer/filmmaker, I live thousands, and I appreciate every single one of them. This is not a career but a vocation for me.
It is my responsibility of being a global citizen and appreciating the privilege of being invited into people’s lives, to share such moments captured through the lens to promote understanding. This is why I photograph people.
We are all in essence living, breathing works of art with a story to tell, and this narrative binds us as global citizens.
Saffron would not share Artie’s stories but described The Wizard’s appearance.
“He weighs between 120 and 130 kilograms and is about six foot two or six foot three, and he speaks like he’s got many tongues,” he said.
“You could imagine he’d be a wizard. He was powerful, commanding of space and a very kind man.
“Capturing him as part of Queensland’s history was not only a privilege, it had to be done.”
Saffron praised SLQ curator Anna Thurgood for her work with the exhibition.
“I think we need more people like Anna to collect history for future generations to understand the people who lived before them,” he said.
Ms Thurgood said there were photos in the exhibition that conveyed great emotion, while others, just as powerful, showed subtle simplicity.
“They all prompt us to ask, ‘who are we as Queenslanders?'” she said.
“The State Library of Queensland has been a key collector of Queensland’s visual documentary heritage for generations but we felt it was the right time to bring our contemporary collections into the light, to examine Queensland’s journey over the first 20 years of a new millennium.”
Jocelyn Garcia is a journalist at the Brisbane Times, covering breaking news.