The Sand That Ate The Sea

The Sand That Ate The Sea is a series of photos I shot documenting the South Australian Opal mining town, Andamooka over the course of 3 years:

The South Australian desert is a mystical place - millennia ago it was an ocean, and opalised aquatic dinosaur fossils are still found in the dirt there today. It is home to an arid land, and deep, old magic. A land of endless sweeping salt flats, and undulating flat red earth. This is where the frontier is, and the last of the great Australian frontiersmen call it home.

The series was shot over the course of 6 months on and off with the community in the mid-northern desert of Australia and was all shot on 120mm (Hasselblad 500cm) and 35mm (Olympus Om1-n) except for 3 digital images that snuck in there (Canon 5d), on mixed stock (Potra 400 & 800, Rollei infrared 400, ill ford delta 3200, ill ford hp5 400, and tri-x 400).

The photos were taken in conjunction with the making of a mythic film I wrote and directed in the town, and try to capture this unspoken magic of the Australian land - and it’s impact on the people who live there. The town has a great conflict within it - a conflict between the hard, realism of the working man’s world (and the unforgiving climate of the that land), and this innate magic of the endless horizon of the Australian red dirt.

I have found that my work (quite unintentionally) is often focused around people and land. And in my travels and practice, I feel I have always been exposed to this truth, that it is not us who work upon the land - changing it and shaping it - but the land that works upon us, moulding us into people in its image. We are a reflection of the land itself, the chaotic heat and vast stillness of the Australian desert is within us - forcing us to feel time in a different manner. Slowing our lives, and shaping our form.

I think the photos are an expression of that in some way,

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The Sand That Ate The Sea by Matthew Thorne

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