Monday, November 8, 2010

Meet Your Maker: Anthony Scibelli

Anthony Scibelli is one of those characters you find in Daylesford: unique, eccentric, artistic with an individual sense of style, quite possibly jettisoned in from some other era via time machine...

Mr. Scibelli’s ‘era’ could just as easily have been the 1920s (such is his dapper appearance) as it could have 1970s new wave New York (where he was a regular with his camera at the iconic Mudd Club.) Or even 1960s counterculture America (yes, he was at Woodstock too…)

The New York native transplanted to Australia in 2000, taking up residence just outside of Victoria’s ‘spa capital’, Daylesford.

A veteran photographer who has worked in design, fashion, documentary, corporate and fine art photography right across his career – across several continents too – Anthony Scibelli pops up in the most unusual of places: Meredith Music Festival (his exhibition of the famous Mud Races ‘The Gift’ featured at Daylesford Art Works), country debutante balls (see his latest documentary essay 'Debut') or in the wilds of Mount Franklin, where he photographed the popular, eerie nature series ‘A Brief Life’ featuring a fantastic fox (on display and for sale at Stockroom.)

Splitting his time between Daylesford and Melbourne (he has studios in both), Anthony Scibelli is a busy man. He kindly took time out of his schedule to tell us a little bit more about his story…

Stockroom: From New York to Daylesford.. From the Mudd Club to the Palais even..! How did this come about? A snapshot of how you made your way to Daylesford?

Anthony Scibelli: I had been traveling extensively for 10 years with my then Australian partner, Fiona Brook and a visit to her home was long overdue.

So I am a Spousal Emigrant to Australia who holds an Italian and US passport as well. I was looking for a change from NYC and found it here.

SR: How and when did you get your start in photography? And then as a professional?

AS: My first job was for a small New York newspaper shooting events and accidents in black & white for $5 per photo. Then a large catalogue studio in Manhattan came next. But I must mention that my father, Andrew Scibelli is a great photographer and built us boys a darkroom at home in which we worked as a hobby. My first two cameras come from my father.

SR: Can you tell us about some of your favorite jobs? And not-so favorite?!

AS: Travel photography is always a photographer's favorite way to get paid to visit other countries. And back in NYC I was always very busy with the catwalk/fashion scene for major magazines.

Once I was commissioned by Good Weekend to photograph the famous Australian author Peter Carey. He was arch and vindictive enough to call Sydney from his tax haven in Manhattan to complain about my "attitude"..!

Above, 'I Am Near' from 'A Brief Life' series, Anthony Scibelli.

SR: What do you love about photography?

AS: Everything! Going to cameras at a young age was the best thing for me. A blend of the technical and expressive creates a new type of art.

SR: What do you love about working in the Daylesford region?

AS: I enjoy a great deal of freedom and privacy. And it is quiet after being in NYC.

SR: What was the inspiration for the ‘A Brief Life’ series?

AS: The fox is an introduced species much like myself. Not a lot to engage my energies in the local Australian bush for excitement.

I have been combining bushwalking and nature photography my whole life. All life is precious, both the hunters and hunted.

SR: They are a popular series of pictures.. What do you think it is that the audience is responding to?

AS: At first the images were truly hated by the locals here. And were rejected by the Daylesford Foto Biannual. But when it was brought out by Jason & Magali at Wolf at the Door [their makers space in Hepburn Springs prior to Stockroom] it seems a different audience was on hand and it has been received much differently.

SR: Where have you shown your work?

AS: Melbourne, New York City, Bridge-Hampton New York State, Albany New York State, Santa Fe New Mexico, Rome and Positano Italy.

SR: Have your ambitions or goals of being a photographer changed, over the years?

AS: I do not think so... the investigation continues.

I began using a camera as a child simply to see how things in my world looked, and still do.

SR: What's the best compliment you've ever been paid about your work?

AS: That would have to be the two occasions my photo art was obtained by a child for their own room.

SR: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be doing instead?

AS: A film actor would suit me. And cameras would be involved.

Above, 'Memento Mori. from 'A Brief Life' series, Anthony Scibelli.

Pictures from 'A Brief Life' are for sale at Stockroom. Visit Anthony Scibelli's website and read more about 'The Gift'.

Words: Megan Spencer. Thanks to Anthony Scibelli for the interview. Images courtesy of Anthony Scibelli.