Sophie Howarth is an Australian photographic artist. She's teamed up with Support Act for this year's Ausmusic T-Shirt Day with an iconic shirt for the campaign.
Looking back over the years, Nick Cave has been the perfect subject to photograph. My one personal encounter with him was outside the Duxton Hotel in Perth the day after his 2011 Big Day Out show.
Nick Cave’s presence holds a beautiful/special place in my photographic archive. At different times, he was often at the Big Day Out festival. At festivals and music venues alike, he emerges from my photographs alive, present in the moment, stepping out or allowing us to step in, communicating.
A Nick Cave show is known to have this quality – to me, it feels like a spiritual quality that says “we are captured one more time” - again and again.
I’ve lived with his music at home, and again and again; my world is saturated with the essence of that spirituality, creating the mood, enhancing what mood exists, the soundtrack to a time that needs this kind of religion. Often, it’s been one song over and over again on repeat.
It is in the live performance that I reflect upon deeply here, on how we can be and are transported into a feeling of otherworldliness, away from our daily life. Within the experience of sound and performance, we can and do disappear into and reappear from an essence. Once dissolved together – the feeling, the performance, the performer, the room, the festival, the dark, the sunshine, the mood of the time represented, all these elements captured then show up in the body of the person at the microphone. The photo lives in a dynamic way.
When I was contacted by Support Act earlier this year, I was excited by the offer to create a t-shirt for the Ausmusic T-Shirt Day Premium Range. It’s a favourite initiative of mine that supports those who have fallen on hard times and are doing it tough in the Australian music industry. I feel this is an opportunity to pay homage to both Nick Cave and the music industry, who have given me the opportunity to create such a rewarding and nourishing career.
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The photograph featured on the Nick Cave t-shirt was a process of an archive search. Once I began the search of all the photographs I’ve taken of him over the years, Nick started popping up in all the places I had forgotten - Lollapalooza, more BDO’s, The Enmore, The State Theatre, with the Bad Seeds, Dirty Three, Kylie Minogue, Grinderman. In all these performances, I see Nick as the embodiment of tension between the divine and the every day - blasting out love.
I feel this collaboration is timely and relevant. Nick is a “Support Act” to our inner selves, the “Saudade”(an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul); he understands because of a life lived. Nick Cave has not turned away from his pain and suffering but faced it with humility, curiosity and the softness of a caring parent. Love, in all its ways, is a constant need on our life journey.
As Nick Cave writes, ‘But ultimately, the Love Song exists to fill, with language, the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.’ I believe the camera has the same opportunity as a tool that can be used as a medium of profound communication.
My hope is the love of Nick Cave blasts out through this t-shirt, reaching out and inspiring acts of love and support.
You can follow Sophie Howarth’s work here.
Sophie Howarth is an Australian photographic artist widely known for a rock and roll archive that has become an important document of Australian and international music culture. She was the official photographer for the legendary Big Day Out music festival and a photographer for Rolling Stone Australia. Her work has been featured in exhibitions such as Unpopular - Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (2022-2023) and We Could Be Heroes, Newcastle Art Gallery (2020-2021).