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Shack :  In Praise of an Australian Icon - Simon Griffiths

Shack

In Praise of an Australian Icon

Hardcover

Published: 25th October 2010
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In Australia shacks have become our protest against the brick veneer, the place where we unwind on holiday, the workshop that feeds our soul. Photographer Simon Griffiths has travelled the countryside, from Jericho in Tasmania to the remote coast of Broome, to bring us images of shacks that are both familiar and exotic. We meet the shack dwellers – a mix of artists, environmentalists, fishermen, homebuilders and socialites – and experience the pleasure of inhabiting spaces that are at once monuments to self-expression and symbols of old-fashioned common sense.

Beautifully put-together, Shack is a book that takes us back in history, out into the remote reaches of the famous Australian landscape and inwards to connect with our common desire for retreat and renewal.

About The Author

Simon Griffiths is a leading photographer of food, interiors and gardens, and he has worked closely with Paul Bangay on all his books. Simon's photography appears frequently in the major lifestyle magazines, and in books such as Stephanie Alexander's Cooking & Travelling in South-West France.

In the field of gardening and landscape design he has collaborated with Rick Eckersley and Lisa Stafford on their new book Outside, and with Susan Irvine on Rose Gardens of Australia and The Garden at Forest Hall.

Introduction

The idea for this book came to me as I was feasting on freshly caught and cooked crabs at the Beer brothers' beach shack at Port Parham in South Australia - a traditional Aussie beach shack, full of the smells of salt, sand and fish. Colin Beer and his brother keep the place so that they can go fishing and crabbing, and I could see why it was so loved by the family. It's a spot where kids can run wild and nothing is precious ­indeed all the furniture and fittings have had previous lives in other houses. Here no one worries if things rust or look shabby. It's all about enjoying the coast and the catch. The shack's a place you can hose out at the end of summer, lock up, leave and not worry about.

Australia has had a tradition of building shacks since the first colonial settlement. Anything and everything that could be used was pressed into service: tree bark, canvas, tin and rough-hewn timbers, along with wire, rope and handmade nails. Materials were scarce so a make-do spirit was born. As pastoral runs spread out without fences to protect their boundaries, shepherds were housed in huts to keep an eye on flocks in remote parts of the properties. In the mid-nineteenth century the discovery of gold brought a flood of new settlers to the Australian colonies, and again tents and bark huts provided basic protection. Shacks were built on shorelines, too, first as crude shelters for fishing communities, then later as cheap fibro beach houses that meant any Australian could spend summer by the sea.

Colonial life in a shack may have been hard, but today's shacks are cheery places. Many people choose to live in one rather than a 'proper' home, or to take a break in one rather than a luxurious holiday house. They opt for an uncomplicated life and a place that makes few demands on them. Many also want to help reduce our footprint on the planet - it's an ecological as well as a lifestyle choice to consume less, to reduce energy usage, to make family and friends rather than possessions the centre, and to enjoy the simpler pleasures. Shacks make people happy.

Over the years as I've driven around Australia on photographic assignments, I've been amazed by how many shacks there are, and by the remote and unexpected places I've found them in. Sometimes they are an abandoned ruin slowly returning to nature, roof rusting, paint flaking, wood rotting. Our equivalent of Europe's classical ruins are our deserted shacks - reminders of times past and British settlement's short history. '

As well as including evocative ruins, the shacks photographed for this book range from the traditional small, economical places that people live or work in, to inner-city converted industrial spaces, to designers' whimsical playhouses and to comforting retreats from everyday life. They might be built from recycled materials, rough timber, localstone, mud bricks, straw bales, found objects or alternative-energy materials. A friend's 'hermit's shack' at the bottom of her garden, teepees in the bush, a retreat affectionately called the _bong­alow', artists' shacks where creativity flows: each has its own story to tell.

I see many different styles of architecture in my travels overseas as well as in Australia, from exciting designer dream-houses to fairy tale castles to romantic villas and everything in between. I'm never envious of those huge houses. Whereas a 'modest shack on a bush block - give me that any day.

ISBN: 9781920989125
ISBN-10: 1920989129
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 212
Published: 25th October 2010
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 18.8  x 2.500
Weight (kg): 23.6