Peter Dombrovskis

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Peter Dombrovskis was a born Tasmanian. That he was actually born of Latvian parents in Wiesbaden, Germany, and arrived in Australia with his mother when he was three years old, means little; it is not so much where you are born as where you are shaped that counts. Tasmania shaped Peter Dombrovskis. He did what so many local-born people failed to do: he loved his home. Passionately. Peter's perambulations into the remote Tasmanian wilderness shaped his love for, and affinity with the natural world - and as a consequence, it also helped to shape ours. The photos that he brought back spoke of a magic land: a place of mystery, a landscape largely unknown; with delicate natural gardens and unbelievable trees; of wild rivers and ragged mountains. In a continent largely modified by humans, the island of Tasmania was seen, rightly, as primeval. It still is.

As fewer and fewer people engage with the natural world, our perceptions of it are based largely on what we see through pictures. That so many in our community have so little contact with Nature, yet somehow still know of its importance, is a measure of the power of the photograph. Peter's image of Rock Island Bend used so successfully in the 1980s campaign to stop the Franklin River from being dammed, is a classic example. There is no dispute that images such as these were instrumental in preventing the Franklin River from being dammed. In the early 1980s when conservationists were beginning to organise themselves to prevent the damming, almost no photos existed of the river. It was Peter who began to gather the images he knew would be crucial to saving the river. And fine images they were. Peter made numerous trips down the Franklin, Gordon and Denison Rivers - which would not only help raise the consciousness of a nation towards the endangered rivers but would also coalesce into what is probably his finest work: the book Wild Rivers (1983).

But Peter didn't just highlight the importance of remote and wild landscapes, crucial as they were, he also drew our attention to the value of places closer to home. Over the last years of his life Peter devoted much of his time photographing Mt Wellington, culminating in his book, On The Mountain (1996), published after his death.

Many people remark on the detail in Peter's photographs, stemming from his use of large-format camera, as if this itself was important, yet it was the way he expressed Nature that's the crucial thing in the evaluation of his work. Great cameras don't make great photographers; it is the way the photographer sees that does. Peter's contribution to Nature photography is enormous: the way Tasmanian's now see their island and its wilderness is due, in no small way, to this quietly spoken man.

- Chris Bell, 2014, adapted from and article written for Australian Geographic in 1998.

 

The work of Peter Dombrovskis is synonymous with the Tasmanian wilderness. Peter photographed using a 5 x 4 inch large formate view camera to capture images from the expansive to the smallest detail. These images were used to produce some of the finest printed publications of their time including the calendars and diaries, books, posters and cards under Peter's imprint, West Wind Press.

For conventional offset printing Peter's images were drum scanned, and over many years and multiple scans the original film stock became damaged and abraded.

To create the Dombrovskis - Wild Vision exhibition 13 of those original scans have been digitally re-mastered. This involved many days of skilled and painstaking repair and retouching to remove scratches and the impressions of embedded dust. Colour has been restored and the images resized and sharpened. The resultant master files can now be repurposed for various print sizes.

This is the first phase of a re-mastering process that is intended, in time, to preserve and create a comprehensive, high resolution, digital archive of Peter's work.

The Dombrovskis - Wild Vision exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Liz Dombrovskis, who herself managed and published Peter's work in the period after his untimely and tragic passing. We are indebted to Liz for enabling the continuance of Peter's vision, and for her encouragement and guidance.

 

All Dombrovskis prints are produced on an Epson pigment ink printer using archival Canson Platine Fibre Rag (100% cotton) paper. The prints are made to museum standards and have a print life, under glass, in excess of 100 years.

All prints are available in various sizes. Framing can be arranged. Please contact us for more information and framing options.