CHER MIN TEO
// Cher Min has been a photographer for 30 years, starting as a teenager, initially with film and then transitioning to digital photography. The photo series he shared with us is a documentary of the mixture of the vibrant art life found in Adelaide´s public spaces, including both musicians and artworks.
Along the way, life intervened and it was difficult for Cher Min to find inspiration amongst family and work life. But he eventually decided that life was too short and finally gathered enough motivation to get back into photography and re-explore the sense of self expression that he had found in it a long time ago. He now shoots both analogue film and digital photos. “The combination of film and digital photography allows me to get back into the essence of seeing and expressing the vision in my mind.” Cher Min´s favourite quote about art is by Sir John Lubbock, the 19th century author of The Pleasures of Life.
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colours flowers, so does art colour life.”
What draws you to the arts?
“Art fulfils the need for self expression and self reflection. My professional work requires me to be logical and make business decisions and this can be emotionally draining and exhausting. Engagement in the arts, be it watching a performance, going to a museum or engaging in doing art myself through photography, allows me to step away and express myself and reflect on who I am as a person and not be encumbered by the daily grind of life. It is a form of escapism.”
What impresses you most about the arts you find in public spaces?
“The series of photographs are really about the spontaneity of street art and music. In some of the photographs you see people just engaging with the art and music spontaneously, but in others you see them just walk past it with nonchalance. What I like most about it is the normality of it all.”
What Is A Real Aussie? Street artist Peter Drew tackled national identity in a poster campaign. The artist went through the Australian national archives looking for images of past Australians and found photos of cameleers from a century ago, who came from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and helped explore the outback and to establish rail networks.
Cher Min explored some real Aussie street art and street music in his home town Adelaide, where art in public places forms a rich part of the arts scene. Some of his photos show art by well-established artists (to see what´s what click on the images in the gallery, the file name will appear below each image). One of these are the bronze pigs who won the Adelaide City Council’s Rundle Mall National Sculpture Competition. They were made by the South African-born and Sydney-based sculptor Marguerite Derricourt.
The city also hosts the Adelaide Fringe arts festival every year. Part of this is Adelaide Fringe’s Street Art Explosion program, which commissions some of Adelaide’s most promising and some globally established artists to create new public murals and street art installations. During the festival, art installations and musicians can be seen around town.
A striking exhibition was Luminarium: Daedalum, created as a walk-in sculpture in South Australia at the 2020 RCC festival at the University of Adelaide, by Architects of Air Founder and Designer Alan Parkinson. The artist wants his sculptures to transport a sense of wonder at the phenomenon of light. As photographers we can certainly relate to this.
Another interesting Adelaide art initiative was a 2020 “outdoor museum” exhibition, which started on Bastille Day 2020, with prominent walls along North Adelaide transformed into an outdoor museum, displaying reproductions of historic European art pieces. The idea was to connect with local shops and cafes during the Covid-19 pandemic through art, and allow people to enjoy art outdoors safely.
“It is”, Cher Min says, “easy to dismiss public art, but its whimsical nature makes it an integral part of life in cities. City living can be incredibly isolating but street art and music adds to the rich tapestry of the human experience.”
We hope you enjoy his public art sampler from Adelaide.
Images may be cropped for layout. Click on the photos to see the full images.
ALL PHOTOS © CHER MIN TEO
Visit Chermin´s Instagram gallery for more photos.