01 November 2009


by Martin Mischkulnig and Tim Winton

Penguin. Australian, Adult Non-Fiction. Hardback rrp $75.00

There is a saying ‘Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder’. Martin Mischkulnig has found beauty where others would never look.

I have braved the harshness and beauty of the Australia, truly ‘a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains…’ Dorothea Mackellar recognised and described it perfectly and so too do Mischkulnig and Winton.

I have seen many of these places, or scenes eerily similar, travelling through the outback. I would love to have a selection of photographs from the books to hang on my walls. And I can! Each 35x28cm photo is displayed on its own page – easy to tear out and frame.

But then the book is a work of art in itself and it’s hard to imagine pulling apart. perhaps the best place to display these photos is on my coffee table.

Each photograph is accompanied by Tim Winton’s wonderful verbal interpretation of the places and people in the photographs. Listen to what he had to say about his own town:

‘The scope of this unloveliness is so heroic as to transcend mere ugliness. It exalts the place, elevates it to the windswept plateau of the truly fugly.’

Brave and bold, poetic and beautiful, the text translates the spirit of Mischkulnig’s photographs. Smalltown is a masterful merger of the visual and graphic with language and words.

I suggested to my husband that Smalltown would be a great Christmas present for his brother and he looked at me and said softly, “No. I think we will keep this book.”



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