A few years ago I found a little yellow Kodak box with ten 35mm Ektachrome slides in it. Their cardboard mounts were carefully inscribed with their date, 1971, the year I emigrated to Australia. The photographs were about discovering a new country, and a new city, Adelaide.
Most of the slides show telegraph poles reaching above suburban roofs into big, cloudy skies, while others suggest their wider context. Telegraph poles had featured in my photography since the early 1960s, when they book-ended visual relationships forming and reforming around me as I urged my motorbike on between the grey skies and streets of Wellington. Poles, clouds and suburban streets also appeared frequently in my work in the 1970s, for example in those photographs collected as the Felicia Portfolio 1973-1978.
The latter work was in black and white, the norm for serious photography until well into the 1970s. I was to adopt colour negative film as my principal medium in 1979. Be that as it may, not long after arriving in Australia, I recall saying to a friend, the painter Christian Clare Robertson, that I wished someone would load my camera with colour film without telling me. I imagined that this would allow me to photograph in colour unselfconsciously, as part of a cultural shift to nominate more and more of the world for art. I had long forgotten about this little cache, which came to light in an overdue cleanup. It was as if someone had carried out my wish.
- Ian North, 12 March 2016