Closing Ceremony of RAMSI (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands). Honiara, Solomon Islands (2017). Commissioned by the the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Sean Davey came in as a photographer commissioned by DFAT to make sense of the pack down of RASMI. That sort of made me think, “How do you photograph this place?”, because you don’t have the language of conflict to draw on anymore. Because we’re outside of this period of conflict, we’re in this period of peace. This is what peace looks like, it’s kind of so invisible that it just looks like part of everyday life, and I think that’s a really fantastic thing that Sean’s bought back from the Solomon Islands for us.
Davey is a skilled and sensitive artist. The individual works (particularly the black-and-white pieces) beautifully combine objectivity and intimacy. His commissioned role may be as documenter but the artist’s eye is powerfully averred throughout the exhibition. He is able to capture not only the drama of the events occurring but is able to elide these into the daily lives of the population and indeed vice versa. The quotidian continues alongside the political, the portentous nature of the latter cleverly played off against the simplicity of the former. Images of pride, national and familial, provide a true portrait of a society moving into a new era.
The photographer has one of those magical eyes for the essence of what makes for a wonderful image – and then even better – he knows how to make a wonderful print. Seeing such quality photography is always a great pleasure.