In 1978, CSR was the first company in Australia to commisison photographers to work as artists rather than as illustrators. Completed in 1985 and including the work of 23 Australian photographers it was exhibited extensively and given to the Art Gallery of NSW. David Stephenson was one of the 23 photographers. His panoramic photographs of North Queensland CSR locations continued his interest in the nature of human interactions with the landscape.
Stephenson’s affinity with the American New Topographic movement in the 1970s precipitated his fascination with the tradition of landscape photography. Pursuing new ways to represent the land outside the aesthetic strictures of the documentary approach, Stephenson’s work is, according to Daniel Palmer, ‘imbued with romantic sensibility’ 1 and confronts philosophical concepts such as the infinite and the unknown with a minimalist sensibility and poetic acuity. Discussing his landscape photographs, Stephenson alludes to the way they ‘refer to the history of landscape imagery, because to recall this history is to recall the history of human landscape consciousness.’ 2
1. Daniel Palmer, ‘David Stephenson’ in Blair French & Daniel Palmer (eds), ‘Twelve Australian photo artists’, Piper Press, Sydney 2009 p169
2.Susan van Wyk,' Sublime space: photographs by David Stephenson 1989-98', NGV Melbourne p 2