Girt by Sea exhibition showcases epic Aussie coastal adventure

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Photographers Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon AO have announced a new exhibition opening in Sydney this week, Girt by Sea, showcasing a striking collection of 100 large-format aerial images of the Australian coastline captured over 31 days.

Speaking of the images, Hewitt said it had been a childhood dream to circumnavigate and photograph Australia in this way.

“I knew that only a privileged few had explored Australia’s breathtaking coastline to any significant degree from the air. So, I got to wondering what an adventure it would be to experience all of it in one go; to capture and reveal its magical, ever-changing beauty,” he says. 

“Girt by Sea started as an ambitious dream and now it’s a lived experience. More than that, the collection means that we can now hold the understanding of those three words in our hands.”

Over 31-days Hewitt and fellow photographer Denis Glennon AO captured the coast in stunning detail.

“As Helen Keller famously said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much'.

The journey

Commencing and finishing at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia, the voyage took an anticlockwise flight path allowing both photographers to shoot simultaneously through front and rear portside windows of the Cessna 210 light aircraft which generally tracked just off the coast.

“This was never a documentary trip; it was a voyage of discovery akin to the explorers of old,” says Glennon.

“There’s lots of planning and preparation with a trip of this scale but ultimately it’s instinct and curiosity that led to us taking the images in our collection.

We had an expectation of what we might see courtesy of Google Earth, but what we actually saw when we got there blew us out of our seats every time.”

Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon AO

The challenges

Following extensive research of historical weather patterns, especially for the more remote southern and northern regions, April was selected as the optimal time of the year to complete an aerial circumnavigation of the coastline in one go.

The decision proved a good one and the pre-planned schedule was adhered to, despite challenging weather on several days.

“We had to complete the trip in 31 days so planning had to account for the journey and photography time and we had to provide the pilots with the way points ahead of each leg. We could delay take-off or get out early but we had to stick to time,” says Hewitt.

“Planning can get you so far but we had to constantly account for variables such as tides, weather conditions and just the unexpected marvels that we would find when we were faced with a location for the first time.”

The Collection

“The collection expresses what Girt by Sea means to us – it’s the emotional response to what we saw a point in time captured in beautiful, large-format images,” says Glennon. “It’s the result of our daily decision to focus on what we actually find, not on what we expect to find – that’s the spirit of exploration!”

“I hope people share the same emotional response of ‘Wow – look at that!’ that we did when we encountered these places,” says Hewitt.

“It doesn’t really matter where it is. What is so striking is the texture, colour, and shape of our coastline. We have in our minds a hard line dividing land from sea, but it’s actually a much more fluid transition."

The exhibition

What: Girt by Sea, presented by Canon Australia
Where: Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford Street Paddington, NSW 2021
When: Saturday 16 June – Wednesday 27 June 10am-6pm
Entry: Free

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