Forty years ago in 1978, Rod McNicol moved into an old warehouse space in Smith Street, Fitzroy that was being vacated by the infamous Nightshift Theatre Group. Rod transformed this warehouse theatre into a unique, daylight studio-home, from which he has been working from ever since.
Right from his very first introduction to photography several years earlier at Prahran College, Rod had been drawn to a certain genre of photographic portraiture, one that was quiet and very direct to the camera. Rod was obsessed by the self-conscious stare back to the camera so evident in 19th century photography. So the course was set, Rod had both his obsession and the perfect studio to use to explore it. The first resulting exhibition, A Portrait, was shown in Melbourne in 1985, then Krakow, Poland in 1986 and finally in Paris in 1987.
For four decades now, Rod - who still lives and works in the same studio - has gone on to produce many different series of brazen but tender portraits, always drawing his subjects from the rich subcultural life around him, in that vibrant inner city area he terms his urban village.
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