On Albatross Island


Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. Stories are what move us, make us feel alive, and inspire us. Ultimately, as a documentary photographer, I want my work to be a part of the conversation in geopolitics, social issues, and the environment. To engaged with the world on a deeply serious level. The price of admission to this amazing life is that you have to go all the way out there, come back and show the world what you saw. If you take that responsibility seriously it’s a difficult task.

From the moment I heard about Albatross Island I wanted to go there. Access is highly restricted, It took around a year of negotiations. Often projects start with the answer no, and grow from there. I knew there would be incredible images and the story of the birds and the scientists that live and work amongst them had never been told. What I didn't expect was to find a place quite so extraordinary and unlike anywhere else I had been in Tasmania. Albatross Island is not an easy environment to work in, it is visually overwhelming and the weather can be severe. The commitment of the scientists to their work and the compassion they showed not only to the birds, but to each other in the field was inspiring and not at all common.

My aim with this work is to tell the story of the island, to produce images that are more poetic in nature than pure documentary might suggest, whist not turning away from the fact that I am there to bare witness to a place that very few people see. It is entirely conceivable that what I have photographed may not exist in only a few generations. I want you to care about the scientists and the birds as much as I now do. I want to wage war against all those stories in the world today that tell us that these things aren't important.

This project is a collaboration between two artists and a scientist that all took risks and leaps of faith in order to see it realised. The process was not always easy, but things that are truly important rarely are. Science must find new ways to communicate with the world. Facts alone are not enough in the struggle for the public’s hearts and minds. Together we seek make connections with an audience that is unable to visit the island for themselves. Ultimately we believe that when people are informed they will care.

Matthew Newton
September 2015

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