Here for the Birds.

At 83-years-young, Bob ‘Bushy’ Semmens is definitely no fly-in-fly-out, tick-the-bird-off-your-list, Twitcher, but a dedicated and devoted Birder.

Bushy grew up on a farm at Sedgwick, in Central Victoria, and it was on the childhood farm and cherry orchard that his now lifelong passion for birds was cultivated by his father. It’s also where Bushy inherited the family’s beloved Leach’s Bird Book.

As a retired National Park Ranger, Bushy’s entire life has been dedicated to birds, wildlife and bush conservation. In 2015, Bushy was awarded the ‘Distinguished Service Award’ from Bird Life Australia for his lifelong outstanding contribution to bird conservation.

Here For The Birds is an intimate and humble story of Bushy’s day-to-day life birding in the bush surrounding his Mallacoota home, as documented by Rachel Mounsey.

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Rachel is a photographic artist also based in the East Gippsland seaside town of Mallacoota. At the bottom of her backyard Rachel creates magic in her caravan, come darkroom, to tell the stories of the people, land, spirits and animals, both real and imagined, which surround her. (Sounds like a creative, photographic fairy to us!)

Her photographic journey began as an itinerant 20-something traveller – lugging a Polaroid camera, dictaphone and a typewriter around the world. Leaving her hometown of Moe, with her freshly acquired Bachelor of Arts in Performance Studies, Rachel headed o to collect a suitcase full of stories. Her adventures had her working on a road gang in Outback Australia, exploring the forests in Far-East Gippsland, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Poland and more, before she finally settled into a self-sufficient lifestyle in the Spanish Pyrenees with her partner, Jose.

Unfortunately, her camera entered hibernation as it hid in a drawer while kids were raised and life was lived. In 2010 Rachel’s love of film and visual storytelling rekindled her passion for photography – be that wet plate, analogue, camera-less, digital or darkroom photography.

As Rachel describes her varied method: “The process I use is a mixture of photographic techniques. Sometimes they stand-alone and other times I mix them all together to tell the story.

“I know it may be cliché to say that a photograph is to capture the spirit, but that’s exactly my intention. I’m interested in the human story and personal connections to the earth, natural elements and the spirits and how all of these elements combine to drive the human to be who they are.”

Rachel’s work has been exhibited alongside major Australian photographers in Australia and overseas. Her current projects include a Botanical Women exhibition involving other wet plate women photographers and capturing the stories of people in the local Mallacoota and Genoa Communities.

With major projects being released in 2017, Gippslandia hopes to showcase Rachel’s talents in the future. To stay in the loop with the wide array of Rachel’s work, please visit rachelmounsey.com.au and follow @lolalunadog on Instagram.

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