November 2024


Words: Jill Greig Images: Harold David

It was the 1980s when designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, first sparked fashion and portrait photographer, Harold David’s interest in Japan. But it was not until 2006, when David toured his last portraiture exibition, Tracksuits of St Marys, through Matto and Fujieda, that the he was finally able to experience Japanese culture first-hand and find inspiration for his next portraiture series. Shot during 2008 and early 2009, Uniform by Harold David portrays rubbish collectors, policemen, gardeners, nurses, house cleaners, bus drivers and even archers, in a completely new aesthetic context.

“I guess as a fashion photographer they just struck me as almost like Comme Des Garcons or Yohji Yamamoto in sense of clothing; and then as a portraitist it’s just really interesting to see about these people and their lot in life and what they do.”

“I was interested in the silhouette, the shape, the way that the people wear their uniforms, they wear them with such pride and dignity.”

“It’s such a hierarchical society and that also struck me. Everyone pays such respect to the lot above them in life, and yet every lot in life they have incredible uniforms.”

“I said to the curator in passing, ‘Man these uniforms here are unbelievable. As a portrait photographer and as a fashion photographer, that is a subject I’d really love to do’.”

“And you know it was in passing, he was interested, we talked about it for around half an hour. Next thing I knew, I didn’t put in a curatorial rationale or anything, he called me and said ‘Well we got some funding for that Uniform show you were talking about,’ I’m like ‘Oh Right! You’re kidding?!’ so, man I was stoked.”

“I went back in 2008. I went through both towns. They took me to where the garbage workers were collecting, the hospitals, anywhere I wanted to see.”

“I went to these places and said ‘I want to shoot that person, that person, that person’, knowing that I was going to shoot in a studio the following year, which was April 2009.”

“And I got everyone I wanted a year later in 2009, on the dot, on time: It was insane.”

Harold David

Uniform: Japan Photos by Harold David will run from November 14, 2009 until January 31, 2010 at Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest as part of the City of Penrith’s Sister City program.

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