Toytown: photograph by Russell Brown
RUSSELL Brown is an Aussie newspaper photographer.
He and I have worked on the same newspapers, the Pine Rivers Press and the Northern Times for more than a decade and we live in neighboring suburbs in the Pine Rivers district of Australia.
Because he is Australian, Russell has been honored with the nickname, Rusty.
Rusty may seem like a strange nickname but even Russell Crowe is known as Rusty by his Aussie acting mates. There used to be an Australian actor call Chips Rafferty but I doubt Rusty Crowe would have enough gravitas to headline the big screen or to receive an Academy award.
The other Rusty, of the Brown persuasion, is quite the artist, too.
Last year, Russell’s work was included in the Salon de la Photo exhibition in Paris.
Silent Sorrow was a Russell Brown exhibit at Salon de la Photo
Our little piece of home turf is not Paree but Russell was featured in two exhibitions at Pine Rivers Art Gallery last year.
The gallery is also why Rusty’s photograph Frosty Morning II adorns the cover of my novel Iraqi Icicle.
Every year for the past 12, I have covered the Moreton Bay Regional Art Awards, held at the gallery. Our papers send a photographer along and, for many of those years, it has been Rusty.
A few years back, we were doing our jobs when Rusty pointed out one photograph in the exhibition. It was his.
Rusty did not win. The winning photographer, who also won a major prize with his pic, had collected hundreds of dead insects, put them on the ground among some leaves and snapped the winning pic. Neither Russell nor I could figure out how that was an exemplary photo. But there you go and that probably explains why they do not ask us to be judges of art contests.
I had just completed a draft of Iraqi Iciclewhen Rusty’s photo was robbed at the art contest. I turned to Rusty to say his artwork deserved international recognition and I would like it for the cover of my novel. He agreed.
Rusty took the photo on a winter morning at Dayboro in Pine Rivers. It looks rural but Dayboro is but 20 kilometres from suburban Petrie.
I see Frosty Morning II as evoking mystery with a hint of menace. As with many great photographs, the viewer can see in it traces of people who are compelling because of their absence.
Rose Revisited I: photograph by Russell Brown
I was toying with the idea of having a different cover for Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition to emphasize the humor in the book. I envisaged a clown with a flower on his chest squirting water into the face of a “femme fatale” as she shoots him in the temple with a water pistol.
In the end art triumphed over marketing and Rusty’s photograph will forever be on the cover of Iraqi Icicle.
The eBook of Iraqi Icicle is out now HERE
The print version is out on January 26. You can win a pre-launch copy but you must enter before January 9. HERE
And here is another Rusty. I do not know if it’s winter, but there’s snow.