Photographer Richard Hedger captures Mardi Gras memories

A new book from photographer Richard Hedger celebrates 40 years of gay liberation in Australia by capturing some of the LGBTI communities most intriguing and colourful members.

As the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marks it’s 40th year, Hedger set about photographing 40 queer folk to capture their stories of floats, fun, fantasy and fortitude.

The images are of the familar, famous, unsung heros, local and international faces sharing their experiences, thoughts, reflections, memories and insights into the significance, impact and relevance of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Richard Hedger spoke to OUTinPerth about the project.

Where did the concept for ‘Telling Tales’ come from?

Having exhibited three times now during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival I really wanted to create something special for the 40th Anniversary. I decided six months ago that I would photograph, and interview, forty individuals of our LGBTIQ community and produce a self published book.

Who did you shoot for the book, who was the first to come on board?

The first on board was Michael Kirby, also featured in the book is  Faustina Agolley, Mark Alsop, Rafael Bonachela, Steph Sands, Fran Bowron, Jayson Brunsdon, Aaron Elias Brunsdon, Tom Campbell, Morgan Carpenter, Casey Conway, Teddy Cook, Andrew Creagh, Joel Creasey, Brendan de la Hay (pictured above), Peter de Waal, Melinda Dimitriades, Robert Tait, Angelo Doulgeris, Robert French, Jackie Braw, Vicki Harding, Brenna Harding, Alex Greenwich, Victor Hoeld, C.Moore Hardy, Manda Hatter,  Nic Holas, Bettina Holmes, Marc Kuzma aka Claire de Lune, Jane Marsden, Les McDonald,  Jenni Millbank, Jonathon ‘J.Mo’ Moran, Tommy Murphy, Justin Koonin, Joy Ng, NORRIE, Ian Roberts, Sally Rugg, Teresa Savage, Vanessa Wagner aka Tobin Saunders, Colleen Windsor, Garry Wotherspoon, Annie Wright, Danling Xiao and Kevin ‘Kabi’ Yarwood.

Norrie captured by Richard Hedger for his book ‘Telling Tales’

Is there any particular person or story in the book that moved or inspired you more than the others

78er Peter de Waal recalls the very first Mardi Gras of 1978 in a raw and personal account, he truly is a pioneer of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Has collating these stories and images left you with a different impression of our current society, after delving into what is was 40 years ago?

I feel compelled to tell their stories and these stories need to be heard. Listening to people’s stories my impression is that the Mardi Gras has and continues to be a significant and symbolic celebration of identity and inclusivity.

Is there a lesson you hope audiences take from the book?
I don’t think there are lessons to be learnt from Telling Tales. Together we are sharing personal stories that I think many people can relate to. The LGBTIQ scene is ever evolving and this is a celebratory snapshot of the last 40 years.

You’ve discussed the importance of letting peoples voices be heard, do you see this book as a device for you to have your voice be heard?

I’m a visual storyteller. In a change from my previous bodies of work these portraits were shot using natural light in private domestic surroundings. I feel my portraits and their stories compliment each other to form Telling Tales.

Sally Rugg captured by Richard Hedger for his book ‘Telling Tales’ 

Do you have a particular hope for ‘Telling Tales’?
With Telling Tales I have already had an incredible journey on this project. From the overwhelming response of its sitters, to its crowdfunding campaign supporters and now from the media coverage here (and overseas). I am very proud of it.

After putting this book together, would you say that Sydney’s Mardi Gras is still relevant?
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is as relevant now as it’s ever been. 2017 was a particularly challenging year for the LGBTIQ community but ‘Love is Love’ shone brightly. The fight for equality within our community continues.

The creation of the book as been supported by a GoFundMe Campaign. Show your support for the project. The book will be launched on Thursday 1st March. 

Davis Burke, images Richard Hedger.  

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