2015 Awards

There always seems to be a flurry of urgency that sets the pace for the start to each new year, with architects busying themselves compiling their entries for the array of awards deadlines that ensue well into the first half of the year. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my clients who secured awards and acknowledgement from their peers and industry, and thank them for entrusting me with the very important job of documenting their work. Every project was shot either while I was in the late stages of pregnancy, or in the early stages of being a Mum, so for me each of these projects is linked personally and poignantly with the creation of life.

I’ll begin with the most prestigious being the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Awards and its tightly contested 12 categories that form the awards program.

Library at The Dock – Docklands, VIC

I’m sure many people at the City of Melbourne were very excited and proud to see Library at The Dock receive the Sustainable Architecture, Allan and Beth Coldicutt Award. A joint initiative of Places Victoria, Lend Lease and the City of Melbourne, it is the only public building in Australia to have achieved a 6-star Green Star as-built rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The City of Melbourne must be applauded for their commitment to ensuring Green buildings become a viable part of the Melbourne CBD landscape. Water is collected from the roof and discharged to a 55,000L tank in the nearby Victoria Green park for reuse within the building and 85kw solar panels on the roof supply approximately 30 per cent of the building’s total operational power. Often highly criticised in the media when problems present with new green technologies, these projects are imperative in forging the way for sustainable architecture to become a viable proposition for the private commercial and residential sector.

A collaboration by Clare Design + Hayball (Architect of Record), this building is somewhat of a welcome anomaly amidst the glitter of the Docklands. Situated in one of the more prestigious precincts along the waterfront of Victoria Harbour, Library at The Dock offers a refuge for the public to enjoy the old school tactile experience of the printed medium, as well as housing digital collections. The northern oriented waterfront elevation provides various seating options to settle and enjoy the warmth of a Melbourne winters day in the peaceful quiet that libraries afford us.

The timber in this building is just incredible and exquisite, featuring 100-year-old reclaimed ironbark hardwood beams and columns from a demolished bridge in Brisbane. The promenade decking is made from recycled timber extracted from the old wharf structure at Victoria Harbour.

Even if books aren’t your thing, the library includes a performance space, a technology and media hub, reading lounges, community meeting rooms, heritage and art exhibitions and quiet study areas. Library at The Dock has been specifically designed to serve as a community hub offering a ‘Public Living Room’ for the Docklands community. It is definitely worth a visit just to experience the beautiful design and materiality.
©Photo Dianna Snape©Photo Dianna Snape©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

To see more images, click here

Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital – Brisbane, QLD

A very big project deserves a very big ‘Congratulations’. Lyons Architects in joint venture with Conrad Gargett received the John Dalton Award for Building of the Year for the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

Australia’s largest and most advanced paediatric facility spanning 12 floors, the hospital represents the most significant capital investment in children’s health services in Queensland’s history.

Designed around the idea of a ‘living tree’, we navigated its trunks and branches for 7 days over 2 separate visits, amidst 40 degree heat. This wasn’t any ordinary architectural commission, we worked closely with staff and patients to record the life of the hospital, documenting surgeries and patient treatments. Raised in QLD and having spent some of my early childhood in the Mater Hospital, this project was close to my heart. Having also just given birth to my first child, it was quite confronting to photograph the fragile little souls in the ICU. The children and parents I had the privilege of meeting, were some of the bravest I have known. Downloading the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack on my iPhone and singing ‘Let it Go’ with the most beautiful little girl over breakfast, accompanied by my assistant Allan, was indeed a highlight. I went home each night from 10 hours of shooting and hugged my baby boy a little tighter.

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

To see more images, click here

Sylvia Walton Building (Latrobe University) – Bundoora, VIC

The 5-star energy rated Sylvia Walton Building at Latrobe University’s Bundoora Campus by Lyons Architects was awarded a commendation for Educational Architecture. Housing 1500 students and 200 staff the building includes teaching, study and office areas, computer labs and student meeting rooms.

 ©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

To see more images, click here

Ballarat Community Health Primary Care – Lucas, VIC

Congratulations to Designinc for winning the Regional Prize for Ballarat Community Health Primary Care, located just outside Ballarat in the emerging suburb of Lucas. You are welcomed into the building by a central double height atrium that runs through the centre of the building, providing an abundance of natural light, a great sense of volume and a tool for navigating through the building. The stairs have cleverly been designed to act as seating for community events. In line with Designinc’s ethos, this building uses sustainable materials, water tanks and solar heating. I am always thrilled to see good design making its way into the outer suburbs and enriching the lives of the broader community.©Photo Dianna Snape
 ©Photo Dianna Snape©Photo Dianna Snape

Boomerang House – ACT

Congratulations to Joanna Nelson on receiving the Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) Gene Willsford Award. Joanna’s work demonstrates a commitment to the integrity of the original architecture and her clients brief. It is always a pleasure to explore and resolve with her the subtlety of the transition from old to new.

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences & Brighton Grammar Middle School

Onto the CEFPI Australasia Region Educational Facilities Awards, I couldn’t be happier for ClarkeHopkinsClarke who do very well resolved and responsible educational design. This acknowledgement is well overdue, winning three awards for two projects. The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences won the award for Education Initiative/Design Solution for an Innovative Program as well as the Overall Winner for the Australasian Region and Brighton Grammar Middle School project took out the New Construction, Major Facility Award.

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

©Photo Dianna Snape

To see more images, click here

Congratulations to Allison Hopper for being shortlisted for the Houses Awards – New House under 200 m2. The Foster house is a beautifully located project, nestled perfectly within the context of its site. Wishing Allison all the best for the 31 July announcement.

©Photo Dianna Snape

In Hampi with Gollings

“Most of my work as an architectural photographer has never been seen… it is of dead cities in deserts and jungles where I return year after year for an orgy of self-flagellation and recrimination over lost images and intransigent buildings.” –  John Gollings

John Gollings has been documenting the ruins of Vijayanagara, a UNESCO World Heritage site for over thirty years. The ruins date back to the 14th century and cover an area just over twenty-five kilometers. Johns work was featured in an exhibition at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne in 2008 and was entitled ‘PLACE-HAMPI – Inhabiting the Cultural Imagery’. The exhibition was later procured by Jindal Steel Works and installed at the Kaladham Museum in Karnataka, India.

©Photo John Gollings

©Photo John Gollings

John has been a mentor and friend for over fifteen years, so when the opportunity presented for us to meet in Hampi and for me to share his knowledge and passion for this sacred site it was too good to pass up. We both marveled at the coincidence that we should find ourselves in India at the very same time, under completely different circumstances, John on a shoot to document the Virupaksha Chariot Festival and more of the Vijayanagara ruins, and me driving a tuk-tuk 3700km across India to raise money for clean water.  Karma must have wanted it.

What began as an invitation from Johns dear friend George Michell (an architectural historian) to photograph the ruins of Vijayanagara in 1980 has become one of the most comprehensive and definitive records of this ancient city. What intrigues John about Vijayanagara is that it is one of the only purpose built imperial cities that from a planning perspective fundamentally imbues the king with leadership. The hierarchy of look-out platforms endows the king with a God like presence. John is fascinated by the extraordinary medieval way of life and has savored every opportunity to learn and absorb the Hindu culture.

Hampi is one of the worlds last functioning villages that thrives and prospers amidst ancient ruins. It is currently under threat of demolition by the government. The obsession with sanitising the site under the guise of protecting it is leaving inhabitants whose families have lived there for centuries feeling displaced and abandoned. The village is literally being bulldozed piece by piece, and the residents who depend upon tourism for their livelihood have officially been evicted.

©Photo Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

As John’s passion for Hampi has been solidified over time, similar values and insights have forged my own connection with Tanzania in East Africa.  Ironically I was en-route to Tanzania to establish a photography workshop for disadvantaged children when we met in Hampi.

I can best describe my time in Tanzania as an insightful glimpse into the purity and strength of the human spirit. I have experienced the generosity of people living in poverty and have been forever changed by witnessing the happiness and contentment of people that have virtually nothing. This is one of life’s precious lessons and you know when you are personally touched by this insight you have a responsibility to find a place for the wisdom within your own life.

John has forged lifelong friendships with the inhabitants of Hampi and in turn he is embraced and respected, not dissimilar to the Gods that are worshipped within the ruins. The people of Hampi understand and respect the value that John’s work plays in their plight and their place in history, in John they know they have a loyal advocate. It was beautiful to see how John is equally in awe of Hampi and the people he has come to call family.

Photo @Dianna Snape

Photo @Dianna Snape

John’s original assistant Viraya is now too old to carry the camera bags so his son Jambaya has been passed the baton. Viraya and John have shared three decades of their lives and they chat like old wise friends who value all that has passed between them.

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

During our stay we were generously hosted by Raghu at the Pushpa Guesthouse and offered several invitations to dine with Jambaya and his family in their home, a short motorbike ride away. As we were debating how to get there John confidently announced to our hosts that I could ride one of the motorbikes and take us both to their home. As our hosts scooted off into the distance I was left with Gollings in the laneways of Hampi and me protesting that I’d only ridden a 250cc before and my license didn’t permit me to carry pillion passengers. If any of you know John Gollings you will know that rules are never adhered to and he’s a “throw your baby into the pool to teach them to swim” kind of guy. So fresh with my motorbike license, I found myself in Hampi reenacting a sad homage to ‘Easy Rider’, on a motorbike way larger than anything to which I was accustomed, with Gollings as my pillion passenger skirting the dusty, bumpy back roads of Hampi. A a sight to behold.

The planning of the trip to meet with John began with coordinating our initial meeting in Bangalore where we would hire a car and make the 353km journey to Hampi.  So the first step was to work out the date we would meet. For most people this would seem like a pretty simple task.  As I expected, John had very little knowledge of the logistics of his trip. I’ll start with what John could tell me. He could tell me that he was photographing a festival. He could not tell me the name of the festival. He could describe aspects of what would take place at the festival, like big chariots being wheeled down the main street. He could not tell me when the festival started or for how long it ran. He could tell me the name of the guesthouse we should stay at. He couldn’t tell me any contact or address details. I managed to find the Pushpa Guest House via Google and would you believe the only trace of the place was one tripadvisor review and a few mentions on some India travel sites, listing only a telephone number, no website and no email address. Before the Internet I lived a functioning existence and traveled widely, so it was not unfathomable to me to imagine life without it, however it is indeed unique in 2013 to find Guesthouses that do not communicate via email and have no web presence.

I eventually bullied John into committing to a meeting date so I could book airfares out of Guwahati in the North of India to get to Bangalore. I foolishly made the mistake of relying on receiving accurate dates from John and booked our airfares based on his advice.  Sometime later, I actually think I was driving a tuk-tuk across India when I received the unapologetic email that the dates were wrong.

Sue Shanahan, John’s longstanding and loyal producer (or his left arm which is a more appropriate description) couldn’t understand why I would rely on any information John provided as being factually correct. I am fully aware of John’s ability to embellish a good yarn, but I really did trust that he would have the date right, as I knew he was organising this trip himself.  Lesson learned, I really should have checked with Sue.  So the upshot was that we found ourselves in Bangalore with a day to kill.  Ok, it was only one day, but I would have much rather spent an extra day in Shillong.

John was staying at the Oberoi Hotel and my friends and I were staying at the Oberoi’s much poorer cousin down the road.  Having driven across India with thirteen days in a tuk-tuk, John’s kind invitation to host all of us at the Oberoi for breakfast before embarking on our road trip to Hampi was much appreciated. Truly a lavish, colonial affair and given the digs we had been frequenting, we felt like the homeless being harbored.

John is always good company.  I am fairly certain most people who have travelled or dined with him will vouch for this.  Even if you are not in agreement with his views or some of his outlandish protestations, you will at the very least find him entertaining.  When you have his undivided attention (which is rare) you get a real taste of the man who is Gollings. He is intelligent and has that gentlemanly, insightful, worldliness that shows a considered understanding of a breadth of topics. He is charismatic and charming and he can be a good listener. That’s the good stuff, paradoxically he can also be profoundly stubborn, flippantly dismissive and ignorantly unapologetic. However, he had his party manners on this trip and was not only a gentleman but also a generous and magnificent host.

We arrived in Hampi and made our way by tuk-tuk to the Pushpa Guesthouse where we occupied all four rooms. The rooms are located on a rooftop that has a large balcony with spectacular views over Hampi and the surrounding ruins of Vijayanagara. It is an ideal vantage point to observe the life of the village as it begins and ends each day. You almost feel like a voyeur watching unnoticed from above.

The rooftop was to be our home for the next four days, and let’s just say it was anything but uneventful. John had a rather scary altercation with a monkey that crept down from the roof and tried to steal his water bottle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a quick and instinctive response as John’s when he successfully swiped his bottle back from the monkey. Conversely, I’ve never seen such a reactive and vicious response from the monkey as it advanced towards John sneering and hissing, very agitated to lose the bottle. The confrontation was primal and a testament to John’s amazing reflexes that he retrieved his water bottle.

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

John strategically invited me to the ruins at 5.30am each day. An invitation like that is code for ‘come and keep me company and fend off the odd security guard’. So, as if no time had passed since I finished as John’s assistant in 2001, there I was on holiday, by John’s side from 5.30am until sunset and grabbing the odd bit of food between shoots. It’s the life of an architectural photographer to always be seeking food. Most times you never stop for lunch and John has become an expert at taking advantage of food presented at any opportunity.

For four days John and I strolled amidst the ruins of Vijayanagara in the company of Jambaya, who assisted in locating and identifying the last undocumented ruins. It was truly magnificent.

What I enjoyed most about our time together in Hampi were the conversations we shared in the solace and peacefulness at the beginning and end of the day. I always enjoyed John’s company when I assisted him and because of the crazy workaholic that he is, I think it’s possibly only his assistants that ever get to glimpse the relaxed and thoughtful man.

At the start of the day it’s an interesting mix of tranquility and anticipation where you marvel at the beauty of a sunrise and all the magic it brings to your subject. You know it’s special, because generally there is no one else around and no matter how many sunrises you see, they never fail to add a little something to your soul. At the end of the day, it’s a combination of exhaustion and gratification, mixed with excitement and anticipation as you wait to download and start editing.

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

The three day Virupaksha Car Festival is the largest religious festival in Hampi marking the annual ritual marriage of the Shiva and Goddess Pampa. In the days leading up to the main parade, Hampi is abuzz with excitement as merchants from neighboring villages erect their makeshift stalls to sell their wares.  Stacks of sweets and spices fill the stalls that line the roadside, providing a colourful compliment to the dry dusty street.  Pilgrims camp among the ruins.

You can feel the anticipation mounting as everyone awaits the festival highlight, a procession along the main street where the deities are paraded in giant wooden chariots. Crowds of people jam the bazaar, desperately seeking a blessing from the elephant that is decorated and placed in the centre of the chaos. The movement of the chariots is like a pulsating, living organism that plunges forward as hundreds of men pull the huge ropes that lead the chariots through Hampi Bazaar.  It is truly a site to behold.

Jambaya collected John and me to shoot a fire walking ritual before the main parade. We were swept along by a tide of people as we documented this amazing ceremony of dance and drums. Apart from the general heat of the Indian summer, the coals added to the intensity and we both sweated profusely as we bore witness to the ancient custom.

Photo ©Dianna Snape


Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Finally it was time for the chariot parade. John and I were both knackered and had been up since 5.30am, the anticipation and fervor mounting among the crowds kept our adrenaline pumping. John immersed himself in the chaos at ground level and I found myself an elevated position, perched upon the ruins to watch the magical parade in all its ritual. Without a doubt the large, decorated chariots, surrounded by thousands of trancelike worshippers was simple spectacular.

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

Photo ©Dianna Snape

There was a kind of lull once the chariots had passed, slowly the street thinned and the crowds dispersed. We were all ready for a meal and bed. It’s curious coming from a place like Australia where most onlookers would be edgily waiting for the ceremony to end, so the party could begin, but as Hampi is a religious center drinking is not allowed.

The trip had been eventful but little did I know that there was a lot more excitement just around the corner. In the unrelenting heat of an Indian summer, with no air-conditioning and only the whirring and squeaking sounds of fan blades, you never really manage a deep sleep, so it wasn’t unusual to wake at 2.00am. What was disturbing was the distressed screams from an unidentified woman. They were distant sounds and I couldn’t make out if the woman was upset or angry but the screaming become louder and more desperate, coupled with hysterical ranting in French and English. The screams oscillated from muffled to loud and clear almost within an instant.

It was then I realised that the woman was outside our rooms on the rooftop balcony and then I heard the words ‘I’m going to kill you’, I knew there was trouble. A million thoughts came to mind and the first was ‘How the hell did she get on the balcony?’  You can only enter through the owner’s front door at street level, so this alarmed me. ‘Where were the owners?’ ‘Where is everyone else?’ ‘ Am I the only person woken by this?’ The screaming continued and I was scared.

Although my room was situated close to my friends when I called for help there was no response.  By this time I was convinced that everyone had been massacred and I was the last one left. Unfortunately the only person who seemed to hear me was the crazy woman and she now decided that she wanted to get into my room and kill me.  She began banging on my door and trying to turn the door handle while I screamed ‘Help, Help’ gripping the handle from the other side. This was my worst bloody nightmare. I still couldn’t fathom why no one else was responding and I really did believe in this moment that this was it.

Out of nowhere came a soft, gentle voice ‘Madam, it is ok’. The screaming stopped and a relieving silence fell. For the first time in this madness I looked out my window to the balcony and thankfully the woman was gone.  I carefully opened my door to find John, calmly standing outside his room wrapped in a white towel, observing the scene like an onlooker at a street performance.  I was quite shaken and I frantically asked why he didn’t respond to my cries for help.  He couldn’t hear me, in fact no one could hear me, not Katelin, Chris or Carol. Outside my room I found a Swiss Army Knife and a 2012 diary.

It was indeed a full moon with all its craziness.  Later we were told that the woman was a tourist staying at a nearby guesthouse who had not taken her medication and was having an episode. She had knocked on the front door of our guesthouse and bowled over the owner’s wife to make her way to the rooftop. This was an experience I never want to repeat but it did make me appreciate life.

Photo ©Dianna Snape

All in all, I think I can safely say this trip with John to Hampi had a little bit of everything. Traveling with John is always an adventure. Even if you don’t have a companion like John Gollings you must go to India and you should definitely include this sacred site in your visit.  Hurry, waste no time Hampi is most certainly being destroyed.





Across India in a tuk-tuk

A voyage of discovery doesn’t stop once you have conquered a fear or climbed a mountain.

I had already summited Mt Kilimanjaro in September 2011 with Daina Borillo and Benn Dalby, so when they suggested I join them to drive a tuk-tuk 3700kms across India to raise money for Frank Water www.frankwater.com, it didn’t seem like such a ridiculous idea, in fact I was quite excited.

Daina and Benn already had their crew, so my first mission was to convince some friends to join me on this adventure.

The organisers website warns:

“Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high.  Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists’ adventures have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled and even lost their life. 

This is not a glorified holiday, it’s an unsupported adventure and so by its very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk. This is what makes them adventures.”

I knew that too much thinking would make us realise the stupidity of this undertaking, so I found five willing participants who joined me in signing up and paying the £1395 entry fee.

It wasn’t long after parting with our hard earned cash that I discovered the only way to get travel insurance to cover driving a tuk-tuk was to have a motorbike license. Never in my wildest dreams had I considered riding a motorbike but there it was, just another item on the checklist.  Adam, Carol, Katelin and myself spent many Saturday afternoons at Motorcycle Motion in Moorabbin, riding around and around that parking lot, before finally walking away with our license.  We had months of practice on our Honda 250cc, kindly purchased and restored for us by Chris Patterson. This was a little adventure in itself.

Next was the ‘Pimping’ phase, this was the fun part where you get to design your own tuk-tuk.  Two fabulous designers kindly donated their services, Alice from Dolly Rogers www.dollyrogers.com in Amsterdam designed ‘Uggi’ and Jessica Brent from Sibling www.siblingnation.net in Melbourne designed ‘Half a Tribe’. We proudly spruiked their fabulous designs all across India.

One important detail before departing was to apply for our visas. Seriously an arduous and bureaucratic process, requiring my father’s name and birthplace, my grandparent’s details, a curiously non standard size passport photograph and an application for an alcohol license.  They’re dying for you to get it wrong.  A guy even skulks around in the lift lobby to ensure you have the correct size photo as you attempt to enter the application centre.  I could only assume that if  you got it wrong he could make a quick buck and hit you up for another photograph in the correct non-standard passport size. Once you’ve made it past him, before you get to take a seat and wait your turn, another guy wants to inspect your application form in the hope you’ve made some mistake and they can upsell the add-on service of having you pay to have someone help you complete it.  A very strange experience all round and I hadn’t even left Melbourne.

Departing Melbourne it was an unexpected pleasure to be upgraded to business class, courtesy of Emirates (best Airline in the world). I arrived in Kochi on Friday 4/4/2013 to join my team at Saj Homestay (www.sajhome.com), a family run guesthouse with loads of generosity and great food, lovingly prepared by Saj’s wife.  Our adventure was about to begin.

We made our way to the parade ground where 74 fabulous little tuk-tuk’s were lined up awaiting our arrival. We were given two days for test-driving, mechanical issues and a little bit more ‘Pimping’. It was a bit of a false start for ‘Uggi’, we couldn’t even get the engine going. We mulled around aimlessly until one of the official Indian mechanics told us to check if there was fuel. How stupid of us to assume we’d be given a vehicle with at least enough fuel to make it out of the parade grounds – thanks Adventurists! As it turns out our tuk-tuk needed a complete overhaul with a new battery, horn (an extremely essential item in India), exhaust and some broken rubber pipe thingy. From this very technical description I’m sure you’re beginning to gather that I was of no help whatsoever when it came to the mechanics of the tuk-tuk. All I can say is ‘Thank God for Chris’!  I did however excel in outfitting our little vehicle. I scoured Kochi for the cutest red hubcaps, came across the yellow flowers and red dolphin along the way, sourced the cup holders to accommodate 1 litre water bottles and tracked down the handle bar covers (which turned out to be functional as well as decorative). So while completely useless on the mechanical front, I did get our tuk-tuk a little dolled up.

To summarise, here’s what it’s like to drive for 14 Days, spanning 3700km on Indian highways:

  • Crazy Indian drivers will overtake you from the left and right simultaneously. If this isn’t confusing enough, particularly given that one of the vehicles is usually a motorbike and the other a damn massive, monolith of a bus or truck, one must also keep their peepers posted to avoid a head on collision with the random vehicles that literally advance into oncoming traffic. Think nothing of entering a highway facing oncoming traffic, think nothing of it at all! The most disconcerting thing is the over zealous cars that beep and wave furiously at you as they overtake – very friendly bunch – and then practically side swipe you as they make their way into your lane. You’ve barely had time to recover from the distraction, which usually involves trying to return some kind of greeting… and then BAM you’ve nearly hit the buggers. It quickly wipes the smile right off your face!
  • Intersections and roundabouts are mayhem, the only way to make it through an intersection I found was to advance into oncoming traffic and furiously beep the horn.  If you hesitate, you will quickly be overtaken from both sides by traffic from behind, further complicating the task of making it through the round about.
  • Speed bumps, often unsigned, appear out of nowhere and can span up to 16 bumps. You definitely don’t want to hit these at 40km an hour in a tuk-tuk.
  • It’s a fine art to avoid pot holes the size of meteorites in a 3 wheeled vehicle
  • Highways are littered with safety signs spouting a host of driving recommendations, all of which are completely and utterly ignored. These include:
    • “Lane discipline gives you long life”.
    • (Life expectancy in India has to be at an all time low, because I can assure you no one in India knows what a lane is, let alone in which direction you should travel).
    • “Be alert, accidents hurt”.
    • “Expect the unexpected”
(they’re not kidding).
    • “Alert today, alive tomorrow”
(not necessarily).
    • “Traffic rules are life saving tools”
(not if they’re not policed).
    • “The safe way is the right way”
    • You are exposed to wind and dust constantly, your skin is dry and scorched and no amount of moisturiser is going to help. Your hair isn’t hair anymore it’s straw, and no it’s not your imagination, it really is falling out. Your fingernails look like you just dug your way out of Alcatraz and your feet look like you’ve donned a lizard costume.
    • Long haul tuk-tuk driving isn’t too dissimilar to architectural photography; the best hours on the road are the first and last 2 hours of each day.

At the end of a 9-10 hours driving in a tuk-tuk on the Indian roads there is always a feeling of exhilaration that you have survived yet another day.

So what were the highlights?

  • The kindness and generosity of the India people en-masse. What a fabulous group of human beings!
  • Attending ceremonies of worship at Srikalahasti Temple, one of the most famous Shiva Temples in Southern India.
  • Staying at Palm Coast resort in Chirala, a quirky little beachside resort owned by a bone surgeon and run by a fun team of young Indian boys who helped us find beer and danced with us late into the evening.
  • Being invited to breakfast by a beautiful family in Rajamundry who picked all six of us up from our hotel and served us a banquet of Indian delights including:
    • A sweet rice dish flavoured with cashews, lychees, ghee and milk.
    • A savory dish of coconut and spicy condiments.
    • White bread and jam.
    • A selection of almonds, dates and pistachio nuts.
    • Bowls of pomegranate, grapes, apple and papaya.
    • A brew of coffee.
    • Chocolate cake and biscuits.

That’s some serious Indian hospitality!

  • Swimming at Gopalpur in the Bay of Bengal where holiday resorts go to die. Hotel Sea Pearl was a dismal representation of her once former glory; sad, run down and in desperate need of some TLC.  Quirky enough to be cool with camel rides on the beach to boot!
  • Overnighting in Chandipur where the sea recedes by as much as five kilometres every day offering us the opportunity to literally walk into the sea at sunset
  • Skirting the foothills of the Himalaya’s.
  • An elephant travelling the wrong way down the NH31C.
  • Hiking to the root tree footbridges in Cherrapunji.  The bridges are molded and formed over centuries from tree roots.

Most people visit India in the hope of experiencing some kind of enlightenment. Driving across India in a tuk-tuk would have to be the furthest possible place from enlightenment; in fact it’s probably better likened to a living hell.

On 19/4/2013 @ 5.00pm after 13 Days on the Indian roads driving 3700 kilometres, we arrived in Shillong to find that in excess of  £50000 had been raised from the combined efforts of 74 teams making their way across India.

Thank you to all the friends and family who donated and supported us.

2013 – The beginning

2013 is well underway and I would like to wish everyone the best with their Victorian Architecture Awards entries, I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  You can view entries at http://vicawards.architecture.com.au/2013-field-of-entrants/

A huge congrats to AM Architecture for features in Houses and Urbis magazines, great projects Andrew and it seems the magazines agree.

Houses Magazine feature:

Urbis Magazine feature:I am a big fan (the biggest) of Houses Magazine’s ‘Re-visited’ feature. I love shooting these projects, it’s a privilege.  I’m calling it, this Guilford Bell house was an all time favourite.

2012 finished off with an awesome project working with Winkreative on their Brisbane Airport Brand Book.  You can spend hours trawling through their amazing work – www.winkreative.com.  Thanks to Darren Heta (producer extraordinaire) and Hank Park (most fun and entertaining Art Director ever). Thanks Nicola and Sara for pulling it all together from London and Gaynor for all your support and help on the ground.

The  illustrations and images form the brand book produced by Winkreative.

43rd birthday celebrations on the side of Kingford Smith Drive, cake courtesy of Darren Heta (producer extraordinaire)

 Our hotel (Limes Hotel)for an after work bevvy, perhaps not so much on the scene like a sex machine but hey, when in Brisbane…

If you’re into a little burlesque check out the Cellar Bar in St Kilda.  We had fun shooting this one for Melbourne Pub Group – http://www.cellarbar.com.au/ – Vogue Living feature below.


Tanzanian Road Trip – Arusha to Pangani

I returned to Tanzania  in August 2012 to climb  Mt Meru, go on safari, photograph a kindergarten and share a 2 week road trip with 2 very special mountain guides who helped us summit Kilimanjaro in September 2011.  I hope that our magnificent road trip in some small way repaid Oscar and Isa for all their generosity of spirit and kindness in helping us summit.  Watching Isa and Oscar swim and discover the ocean was certainly one of my personal highlights. Our entire 6 week adventure was an enriching and rewarding journey that is most eloquently told through snapshots.  I am eternally grateful to the friends that I shared this with and all the amazingly generous people we met  along the way.  Now I’d like to share some of it with you.

The roof of the house below is made from oil can lids, brilliant!