37 Degrees SFO-MEL, 2021
Nov 2021 - Feb 2022
Atrium Promenade, Level 35, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Photographer Jon Rendell honed his art under icon Athol Shmith (1914-90) at the Prahran College of Advanced Education and followed with a Bachelor of Education at the University of Melbourne.
At 37, Rendell left Melbourne to live the next 25 years in San Francisco, returning permanently to Melbourne in 2019 and this exhibition contrasts images of San Francisco (37º above the equator) with recent images of Melbourne (37º below the equator). Both cities are both economically significant ports perched upon vast bays and much of their early wealth and expansion came from simultaneous gold rushes and with that, expansive Chinatowns. Melbourne’s Chinatown is notable for being the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world, only because San Francisco’s Chinatown was destroyed briefly by the 1906 earthquake and fire. San Francisco has cable cars, we have our trams. Both cities are enveloped by renowned wine growing districts. Both cities present remarkable atmospheric displays by way
of their characteristic fog, San Francisco’s in summer, Melbourne’s in winter.
37º is also the temperature of the human body and in the early 1990s Rendell’s was diagnosed with HIV at a time when there was no cure or treatment; it was a death sentence. He decided to leave Australia and see the world in what he believed would be the short time he had left. Since then extraordinary advances in medicine and changes in social attitudes transformed the world and he returned to Australia 25 years later with a husband in tow and a successful career as an artist.
Rendell’s photographs are a banquet of light, strewn with reflections and luminous shadows. They take us from a magnolia blossom in Carlton Gardens to a mysterious fog enshrouded waterfront in San Francisco, Jon’s photos admirably portray the inherent beauty between these two cities by great bays as he explains;
“When I returned permanently to Melbourne in 2019 I found it born anew, an arts
filled epicurean paradise. I’d always been in awe of her stately gold-rush enriched
architecture, upon my return I was met with an international skyline of sleek
skyscrapers and a city filled with an even more diverse mix of cultures. U.S. friends
often ask if I miss San Francisco and I always reply that I found more than enough in
Melbourne to keep me captivated and enthralled.”
Rendell has exhibited widely in Australia and the USA, and is represented internationally in various collections.