Cica, Natasha. pedder dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a lost Tasmanian wilderness

University of Queensland Press,$59.95

The campaign to save Lake Pedder, arguably Australia’s first great environmental battle, was lost in what is now considered a regrettable tragedy.

The lake was flooded by Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission in the early 1970s, but images of its beauty remain. One photographer enamoured by Pedder was Olegas Truchanas, a Lithuanian émigré who arrived in Tasmania following World War II.

Truchanas’ images were used as part of the campaign to save Pedder; they did not persuade the government of the time. An image taken by Truchanas’ protege, Peter Dombrovskis, would later be used in another environmental battle: the iconic “Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend” became the pin-up of the campaign to save the Franklin River.

Sadly, Truchanas drowned while embarking on a canoeing expedition on the Gordon River in 1972, not long after Pedder’s pale pink quartz beach itself was drowned. His images were collated by a group of his friends and published as The World of Olegas Truchanas, a popular success selling over 40,000 copies.

Pedder Dreaming highlights Truchanas’ photography, his activism, and his place in the “Sunday Group” of Tasmanian watercolourists and artists. Cica has spent years researching Truchanas himself, and the artistic evolution of this exceptional island. Many of the images published have been reproduced from private collections. This volume is fittingly beautiful. Elegant design complements gorgeous Tasmanian images. These images are not all just serene wilderness; many pictures show figures painting, taking photographs, or merely enjoying themselves, conveying a warm human record. Combined with text that is respectful and considered, the result is a book which is both a celebration, and a cautionary tale.

 

Reviewed September 2011

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