# 42959

Robert ASHTON (1950- )

Bush chapel

$2,750.00 AUD

Ambrotype (wet collodion positive on glass), mammoth plate format, 230 x 300 mm (9 x 12 inches); signed and dated 2024 by the photographer verso; housed in a custom handmade protective box.

One of the sixteen unique ambrotypes that form renowned Australian photographer Robert Ashton’s latest body of work Ghost Camera, for which he returned to the bush along Victoria’s southwest coast, an environment he has been drawn to for several decades, to extend his previous explorations of the compositional and textural possibilities of one of the earliest photographic processes. The images in Ghost Camera are characterised by their haunting luminosity and multilayering. Through the use of an idiosyncratic superimposition technique, or by the introduction of “lost” objects – at first glance as aleatory juxtaposition – these creations of shimmering beauty on glass achieve a poetic resonance. Magic realism, yes; but also real magic.


Robert Ashton, Ghost Camera

Robert Ashton, with his self-built mammoth plate camera,

in the silence of the bush on Wadawurrung country.

A meditant in this natural temple,

like the ghost of Buguet*, summoning all that has past, from here, and from there;

and beckoning all that might come to be:

for now these two worlds breathe together in the glass, in latent volatility.

Jonathan Dickson, 2024

*Édouard Isidore Buguet (1840-1901), medium and spirit photographer


The AMBROTYPE: a 19th-century photographic process

The ambrotype – from the Greek ambrotos, “immortal” – is created using the wet plate collodion process developed by the English inventor Frederick Scott Archer, which came into vogue in Europe and North America from around 1854 as a cheaper alternative to the daguerreotype. A glass plate covered with a thin layer of collodion, then dipped in a silver nitrate solution, is exposed to the subject while still wet, then developed and fixed. When the reverse of this negative image is coated with a dark emulsion such as varnish or paint, the resulting image appears as a positive. The process requires the expertise and experience of a professional photographer. Every ambrotype is unique.


ROBERT ASHTON studied photography in the 1970s at Prahran College under Paul Cox and Athol Shmith, and first exhibited his work at Brummels Gallery of Photography (Australia’s first gallery devoted specifically to photography) in 1973. Since that time he has been exhibiting continuously and has work held in many of the public collections in Australia including National Gallery of Victoria, Art gallery of NSW and National Gallery of Australia. His work is also held in private collections in USA and Europe. His main area of practice has been in landscape and particularly the local landscape along the west coast of Victoria, where he has been living since 1982. His work embraces a range of photographic mediums from digital to large format analogue, in particular photogravure printing and more recently wetplate collodion.



1973         Faces and Places   Brummels  Gallery, Melbourne

1974         Into the Hollow Mountains   Brummels  Gallery, Melbourne.

1976         Between Light and Dark   Centre for Photography,  Sydney, Brummels Gallery, Melbourne

1976         Between Light and Dark   Brummels Gallery, Melbourne

1979         Adventures in Paradise?   Church Street Photographic Centre, Melbourne

1979         Adventures in Paradise?   Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney

1987         Photogravure Images   United Artists Gallery, Melbourne

1990         What are you Doing?  What are you Saying?  Luba Bilu  Gallery, Melbourne

1993         Hidden Things   Qdos Gallery, Lorne

2000         Life Sanctuary   Patricia Autore Gallery, Melbourne.

2001         Different Dreams-Same Reality   Patricia Autore Gallery, Melbourne

2003         Evidence   Little Malop Gallery, Geelong.

2005         Visual Instinct   Libby Edwards Gallery , Melbourne.

2006         Recognition   Pigment Gallery, Prague.

2007         Snapshots from the Edge   QDOS Gallery, Lorne

2009         Photographs from The Edge   Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne

2012         Postmortem  Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne.

2013         Interior/Exterior    Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne.

2014         Into The Hollow Mountains  Colourfactory Gallery, Melbourne

2014         Interior/Exterior + Postmortem gravures  Black Eye Gallery, Sydney

2015         Thin Air   QDOS Gallery  Lorne , Colourfactory Gallery, Melbourne

2021.        Bush Theatre  QDOS Gallery, Lorne

2023         Everything Is True. QDOS Gallery, Lorne



1982         Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane

1988         The Thousand Mile Stare, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

1998          Waterproof-Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon Portugal

2003          Australian Photographic Portrait Prize, Art Gallery of NSW

2007          Ulrich/Schubert Photography Prize , Gold Coast Art Gallery.

2007, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017,2018, 2023     Bowness Photography Prize, Monash Gallery of Art.

2023.         Everything is True.  Ballarat photo Biennale

2023          Everything is True.  Pingyao Photo Festival, Pingyao China



1974         Into The Hollow Mountains – a Portrait of Fitzroy

1981         A Day in The Life of Australia

1988         The Thousand Mile Stare

1990         Twenty Contemporary Australian Photographers

1992         Sites of the Imagination

1999         Waterproof : water photography since 1852

2003         Trace : Photos & Poetry (with Gregory Day)



National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; Phillip Morris Collection; Melbourne City Council; Waverley City Council; John Sands Collection; Charles Darwin University, as well as many public and private collections in Australia, USA, Malaysia and Czech Republic.