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October 2021 – John McRae Photography & Studio

Memorial Sculpture at Tamarama

Urban Arts Project (UAP) was commissioned by ACON and Waverley Council to create the Bondi Memorial to victims of LGBTQ hate crimes in Marks Park, Tamarama.

The Bondi Memorial public artwork honours the victims and survivors of homophobia and transphobic violence along the Sydney coastline. It acknowledges and heals the significant community trauma caused by these events, it raises greater community awareness of this issue and promotes the continuing need for relevant information to be brought to police attention.

Mark’s Park was selected as the location for the permanent memorial given its place in international history as the site of numerous attacks. Many gay men and transgender women were assaulted, and in some cases murdered, at Mark’s Park. 

 UAP’s design for a six-level stone terrace represents the six bands in the pride flag, and was seen as wholly embracing the memorial’s guiding principles of remembrance, diversity, inclusion, justice and acceptance.

Paula Masselos, Mayor of Waverley Council & Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON

Voices from the gay community have said:

“It’s been too long in recognising these terrible events from our not-so-distant past,”

“Finally, we will have a permanent reminder by which we can pay respect to these men, their families, friends and the LGBTI community.”

Pictured below is Reg Domingo (ACON Communications) together with the rest of the team from ACON documenting the completion of the Bondi Memorial Project.

Hansen Yuncken completes Anglicare Minto Gardens

Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd recently completed a large scale aged-care and residential facility in Minto, in Sydney’s west. I had photographed this site during its construction phase and Hansen Yuncken asked me to document the finished project prior to the residents moving in. Anglicare Minto Gardens features independent residential living, outdoor community areas and pockets of native bushland. It was great to track the project from the early stages to its completion.

Meat – the art of the cool room

Augusto De Romanis and me in front of the Five Dock Meat Market, Sydney

Several years ago, while I was working on a photographic project exploring the subject of “meat” and butchery, I was introduced to Gus, the proprietor of the Five Dock Meat Market. Graciously Gus not only allowed me to organise a photographic shoot at his premises, but he also became an integral part of my series by agreeing to play the role of the gourmet butcher, a role for which he was more than qualified. With a sense of humour, he lent an air of professional authenticity to my surreal imagery.

John McRae, Gus, 2012 Finalist in the 2013 Head On Portrait Prize, State Library, Sydney

Happily some of the resulting photographs from the shoot reached critical acclaim – one was selected as a finalist in the 2013 Head On Portrait Prize and another was a finalist in the Blake Prize, a national competition for spiritual and religious art.

John McRae, Meat, 2012 Finalist in the 2012 Blake Prize, S&H Ervin Gallery, Sydney

Nine years on, I visited Five Dock and dropped in to say hi to Gus. He greeted me with the warmest of Italian welcomes. I even bought a whole rabbit to cook later at home based on a traditional Maltese recipe.

From the series Meat, 2012

Audrey Rhoda – Looking for authentic

Audrey Rhoda in her Katoomba studio, 2019

My colleague and friend, Audrey Rhoda is a painter who lives in the Blue Mountains where she has created her latest body of work for her November exhibition at the M2 Gallery in Surry Hills.

For many years I have been documenting her work and I helped her design the publicity for her upcoming solo show. Audrey works in various media and some of her paintings include wax to give her colours a jewel-like quality.

Audrey’s exhibition opens at M2 Gallery in Surry Hills on November 4 and continues through to November 16 (Opening hours 11am – 5pm).

Audrey Rhoda, Congregating in a liminal state of mind, 2021, Oil on linen, 95cm x 114cm

The Minnie Cooper Super-Highway

Over the years, Sydney drag identity Minnie Cooper has been a frequent visitor to my studio, posing for numerous publicity shots and posters for cabaret shows. Her photogenic skills as actress, tap-dancer, choreographer and showgirl have also been showcased when she performed as a returning contestant on Australia’s Got Talent.  In spite of closures and restrictions in Sydney, Minnie’s exuberance reveals that there still exists a world of life, colour and creativity, all part of the queer expression of liberty.

Minnie came to my studio to document elements from her wardrobe and to produce new footage for projects for next year. In the studio, we made a series of videos to highlight different Minnie Cooper drag looks, and to showcase her charisma, uniqueness, verve and talent. One look was plush and operatic, another was sculptural and stone-coloured and a third was a contemporary take on an evil fairy-tale queen. 

While drag sometimes exists in a world of its own, the exaggerated, camp glamour promoted by Minnie Cooper also manifests its strong political and social connotations. Hers is a sign of resilience. In Sydney, the best drag queens are community leaders who represent different forms of activism, while helping to break down barriers.

“It’s part of your DNA being a drag queen,” affirms Minnie Cooper.

Shooting fashion in the studio

For the new look book of the autumn range for So French So Chic we organised a shoot at my Lilyfield studio to compliment the location shoot we completed in Parsley Bay the week before.

Client: So French So Chic (Valerie Tsoukaris), Model: Valeria Sizova, Hair and makeup: Kevin Vella, Styling: Chris Becker. Photographer: John McRae.

Booty Shoes prepares for summer

Just in time for summer and the re-opening of retail in Sydney, Booty Shoes launches their latest arrivals from Europe. My latest images of their sandals, pumps and various footwear are already appearing in their on-line catalogue.

Promoting diversity at Multiplex

I was contacted by the marketing department of Multiplex to photograph members of their work force at the construction site of the new Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont on the edge of Blackwattle Bay. Work is well underway on the upgrade of this Sydney landmark.

I was tasked to create images that reflect the diversity of their employees. For example Multiplex actively promotes more women in construction as a core part of its inclusion commitment.

Autumn linen shoot for So French So Chic

Together with my crew of assistants I photographed the new autumn line of linen designs by So French So Chic under the trees at Parsley Bay, Sydney. The native bushland and forest streams matched the cool shady look of the simple dresses and tailored shirts.

We had a great team which included our Russian model Valeria from Vladivostok. Of course Parsley Bay is a beautiful setting for a fashion shoot with stately Morton Bay figs, ghost gums and tree ferns. It combines lush rainforest with a sandy beach overlooking the harbour.

Client: So French So Chic (Valerie Tsoukaris). Model: Valeria Sizova. Styling: Chris Becker. Hair and Makeup: Kevin Vella. Photographer: John McRae. Assistant: Jonathan Turner.