Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

Into the Mystic is a series of performance portraits of Australian singer/songwriters. Unlike most live performance rock photography, by eliminating the clutter and paraphernalia of the stage environment, and honing in on just faces, Stuart Spence has seized upon something intensely intimate, almost other worldly. 

Spence wanted to capture the places artists go to when they are lost in their art form.

In many ways, this can be a truer kind of portrait, one where the camera disappears in the exchange, eliminating the kinds of secret walls that often slide up when subjects become conscious of the camera.

The photographs are witness to a level of intimacy not often associated with the musicians pictured within them.

Paul Kelly throws a Caesar-like desperate glare into the black, Clare Bowditch convulses in cosmic pain, Holly Throsby claps to her own secret beat. All are immersed in something, private scenes, good, bad, tormenting, celestial, and all in public.

In a back flip from his production spectaculars of the past, Spence produced Into the Mystic almost completely without the knowledge of his subjects, preferring instead to photograph unobtrusively from the wings at gigs with a tiny little point-and-shoot camera.

His intention was to simply feel the moment, unencumbered, connecting to the emotion playing out in front of him, in a way, moving into his very own mystic.