Andrew Chapman is one of Australia’s foremost rural documentary photographers. He has been taking pictures of the wool industry in Australia and New Zealand for the best part of 40 years.
The first volume of Woolsheds, published by Five Mile Press in 2012, was a huge success, selling more than 20,000 copies. Now Chapman has teamed up with Ten Bag Press and Tim Lee, a hugely-respected reporter on the ABC’s Landline program, to release Woolsheds: Volume 2.
“Andrew Chapman forged a fine career as one of Australia’s foremost press photographers. Drawn to the human drama of politics and politicians, he photographed every Prime Minister from Gough Whitlam through to Malcolm Turnbull,” Lee writes in the introduction to Woolsheds: Volume 2.
“What’s more, he got to know them as people. So, his portraits are more than mere images. They capture and convey the character of the person and often at critical, historic moments. It might be the adulation of electoral victory or the dejection of defeat.
“However, the wool industry has captivated him more than any other subject. When time and finances permitted he’d seize any opportunity to head to the sheep districts. Especially at shearing time.
“I’ve often watched Andrew at work – on the remote, dusty plains of Western Queensland to the lush green fields of Western Victoria and countless points in between. I’ve seen him work his charm on reluctant subjects.
“Often, he’ll even convince the whole shearing team to stop for a group portrait.”
Woolsheds: Volume 2 is packed with stunning pictures and engaging stories about woolsheds, woolgrowers, shearers and rouseabouts in Australia, along with an additional section on New Zealand.
“Andrew proudly calls himself a documentary photographer,” Lee adds. “As such he is obsessed about recording subjects truthfully, with all their grit and candour. You can see that best in his portraits of shearers and shed hands.
“Shearing is physically taxing at the best of times. In an eight-hour day it’s estimated a shearer can expend as much energy as a marathon runner.
“Try to imagine spending a working day in a corrugated iron shed in unrelenting 40 degree plus heat.”
Chapman is proud to have shone a spotlight on one of Australia’s great rural industries.
“As the number of sheds is dwindling, we need to dwell a moment on the woodshed’s future,” he writes in the book. “Is natural attrition a foregone conclusion and the loss of our wool heritage only something we will grieve about once it has come to pass?
“Robotic shearing may be developed, but I figure that with all the dexterity required to shear the sheep, humans will be toiling away for years to come. As for the sheds themselves … hopefully I have recorded them well enough so future generations can appreciate the wool heritage we once had.”
CLICK HERE to pre-order a copy of Woolsheds: Volume 2 from this website.
The book will also be available from bookshops around Australia from mid-November.