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‘Finding Space’ is about more than photography

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In a time of imposed isolation, ‘Finding Space’ is a collection of peaceful moments depicting solitude as a blessing and not a curse.

An invitation to re-examine our relationship with ourselves in the absence of others, rediscovering both our mental and physical space. Momentarily disconnecting to reconnect with who we are and with the ocean.

Those are the words Toby Lord uses to describe the exhibition that is showing at Bausele House in The Rocks throughout the month of June. We caught up with the photographer during the private opening night of the show last Thursday which saw a hundred close friends celebrate some stunning photography and a message of positivity.

Toby, you’re an amateur photographer. Tells us more about this exhibition.

Bower Fishtail’

I’ve always loved photography, the gift of a meaningful photograph, people’s reactions to a scene, it transports you, the viewer. Through this exhibition I’m trying to portray solitude in a positive and inviting light. The last 18 months have seen ‘isolation’ take on a whole new meaning in the hearts and minds of people. At a time when mental health is already on the front pages of media, I think it’s important to remind people to slow down and to make the time to find themselves, and nature can really help with that.

In Australia, nature became a sanctuary during a time when socialising was off limits. People took to the bush and the ocean to get away from zoom screens and their thoughts, and in doing so, spending time with themselves. I need time alone for my mental balance. It’s not weird, I’m not a minority. It brings me tremendous grounding and strength and that’s what I try to express through my work on ‘Finding Space’. Solitude and loneliness are two very different ideas. You lean into one for strength and peace, the other is far more destructive.

“It’s a very different solitude; an exhilarating moment in which you are uber-present”.

Sounds like we need to slow down and rediscover ourselves in our natural surroundings?

That’s exactly it. And that’s why the show is called ‘Finding Space’. It’s as much about mental space as it is physical. I get a mental and emotional workout too when I’m on my mountain bike on Mt Narra or surfing the Bower break in Manly. Nature gets you out of your own head. It’s a very different solitude; an exhilarating moment in which you are uber-present.

Is there a Toby style coming through your photography?

“La Bicyclette”

I guess it was inevitable for me to end up in this visual space. I love photography, the ocean and calm, so naturally my work sits at the intersection of these three pillars in my life and I constantly find myself photographing people in water at dawn connecting with themselves and nature, having the time of their life.

The ultimate compliment on my work is that it soothes people. If staring at my photography can lower your blood pressure for a minute and have you dream of a peaceful place, then I’ve reached you the way I want to. The calm is very much a trait of my personality and something I am happy to spread liberally in today’s day and age.

“Bringing people together around positive ideas and emotions is a privilege today and I think the world is hungry for more of those connections as we emerge from Covid winter”

Each photograph has its own bio/story, almost philosophical, about how and why it came to be?

I was torn about how much to share when it comes to why I took those photos and the value I see in them. I want people to use their imagination too and utilise those pictures in their lives for what they see in them. I explain why those pictures are powerful for me or an anecdote of the “making of”. Sharing an emotion remains the number one role of each scene.

You’re an amateur photographer today. Could the success of this show be the catalyst to go pro?

During the private opening night at Bausele House

Bringing people together around positive ideas and emotions is a privilege today and I think the world is hungry for more of those connections as we emerge from Covid winter. Whether or not this activity can provide for my family will be determined by the reception and demand for this type of art. I still love my career as a branding consultant; it supports my creative work and my family. I have no doubt I will continue sharing my emotions through photo, I do it because I love it, I need it and I believe in it. If people respond to my message and artworks, perhaps I’ll have the time and means to do more of it, yes, I would love that, but this is my first show and I’m still learning how to connect with my audience.

This exhibition is also the product of chance encounters. How did you end up in The Rocks?

Toby Lord (on the right) with Bausele’s Owner, Christophe Hoppé

Yes, it’s been a succession of blessings, doors opening, guardian angels. I’m still scratching my head as to how this all came together for me. Most of all it’s down to people like Christo Hoppe, founder of Bausele watches, who has been encouraging me and supporting my work from the beginning and eventually offered for me to use his store for the show. I’m here largely thanks to the generosity and integrity of people like Christo or Tim Elwin, another friend and photographer I learn from in Manly.

Each piece is only a limited run. Why is that?

Part of me wants to share my message with as wide an audience as possible, but I also know that people want unique artworks in their homes, so I’ve decided there would only be 10 signed pieces of each in the world. If I run out, I’ll just have to jump back in the water and make some more !!

You’re donating half of the profits of ‘Finding Space’ to different charities. Please explain?

With all the love and support I received throughout the project, it’s only fair that I should pay it forward. There’s no shortage of good causes today. I’ll be supporting the ocean and those looking after it, the children, mental health organisations and other artist that deserve the help I was blessed with.

We loved the show and meeting Toby. Be sure to stop by The Rocks for a visit before end of June. You’ll walk away appeased and inspired.

If you cannot make it in person, the website www.tobylordphotography.com will give you access to the stories and the artworks to purchase too – hurry there are only 10 of each !!

The readers of the Courrier Australien will benefit from an exceptional offer of 20% reduction (with the code LCA20) until June 20 on all images in the collection, while stocks last.

“Finding Space” – Bausele House at the Rocks – Sydney – From 3 to 28 of June 2021.


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