Richard Butler Bowden is a South African born Melbourne based artist. He is also sweet polka family (if you are curious about the connection he is Marion's brother-in-law). It's how I came across his latest venture, a self published book, IMAGES FROM THE NON W.E.I.R.D, a coffee table book that I found on the coffee table down at Anglesea, where we were holidaying over the weekend. Even though I have known Richard for aaaaageeeees, and knew of his long-standing engagement in the Middle East, India and Africa through his own travel and involvement with migrant communities, I was not actually aware that he was a photographer, a really good photographer.
Meditating on the cover – two figures on a motorbike riding through an arid landscape – brought back the late 60s counter cultural cinema classic Easy Rider. It's worth mentioning because something of that spirit lives between the pages of this book. Richard has a bold sense of adventure; many of the places he visits are low on infrastructure. Many of the images, especially the streetscapes, are taken from a good distance and for this reason they reward careful study. Richard's observant eye is invariably drawn to the humorous, the poetic even the whimsical. He is interested in how people inhabit spaces and self organise.
I am usually put out by art travel photography because of its formal exactitude. In this genre of photography the human body is a dynamic prop that activates a space. What I liked so much about these photographs is that the subjects of the images are present in a wholly different way. Where some might find difference he finds friendship.
I honestly have no idea where you can find this book although Stevie Zee tells me MGA has a few copies in the bookshop.