Saville Coble - 'Summertime'

Wednesday 1 - Saturday 18 March 2023


This is a vision of summertime, but not one you have seen before.

With this unique project, Saville Coble takes us on a personal journey that stretches from the ever changing chaos of city beaches to the peaceful and serene seaside towns of Victoria. From bustling urban shores to wild and rugged seascapes of the southern peninsula, it is a personal snapshot of a Victorian summer from many viewpoints.

While all summers are special in their own way, this one was different. This was the summer we needed after battling bushfires, floods and a pandemic. This last summer came at a time when everyone was exhausted and desperate to get back to the beach and bask in the sensuality of the season.

While some images radiate with the power of the baking sun casting deep summer shadows, others offer a wistful, lyrical interpretation of the coast and its many waterways, all of them transporting us back to the summer of 2022.

Summertime is a quiet reflection of the season and a time when Victoria emerged from the challenges and lockdowns of the previous years into the golden light of summer once again.


Individual works featured in the exhibition


The pandemic left its mark on all of us, particularly in Melbourne, and a big part of returning to life after long stretches of time in isolation was the pleasure and inspiration of getting back to the sea.

For me, this image shot at Port Melbourne has elements that take me back to the iconic photograph Sunbaker by Max Dupain, especially given its themes of youth, innocence, and freedom, things we associate with hot summer days at the beach.


These days it’s rare that we get to experience a real sense of ‘total freedom’ — fortunately I was in the right place to capture one of them.

During one of my travels around Port Phillip Bay I found this lone person on Frankston beach without a care looking up to the sky — a kind of ‘happy accident’ in terms of timing. The sense of the lone figure in landscape set against the beautiful tonality of the serene sky is striking.


Whilst its more famous neighbour Wilsons Promontory has a distinct and unique geography, so too does Walkerville with its beautiful craggy islands and rocky shoreline. On this day, after exploring secret caves we were greeted by this dramatic landscape. The sun was shining yet, in the distance, a powerful summer storm was brewing and provided this memorable composition.


This image was captured at Beacon Cove and what caught my eye was that this young girl appears totally content to be enjoying this moment of summer by herself, in a spot that is a little unusual compared to the beach nearby. She exudes a quiet confidence and a connection to the nature around her. What adds to the shot is the wonderful contrast between the pattern of the giant breakwater rocks and the calmness of the water. 


Two girls striking a pose for a photographer, swimmers in conversation, sunbakers and merchant ships on the horizon; a snapshot of a normal summer weekend in St Kilda as a world within a world unfolds, all set against a wonderfully textured sky.


This image reminds me of the kinds of shadows captured by a young Olive Cotton many years ago, yet with a contemporary twist as those little round tactile safety tiles sparkle underneath on the Elwood Esplanade. 

It is also interesting that the shadow itself becomes a story within the picture and gives a sense of not just location but what might be about to happen.


There’s nothing quite like Wilsons Promontory, whether it be the dramatic boulder-topped mountains or on a smaller scale, the ever-changing shorelines that reveal new patterns with each turn of the tide. This abstract image of sand textures is a graphic moment in time because, in Prom Country, there’s always change to come.


There is a Mediterranean feel to this image, highlighting the built urban environment that borders the sea at a number of points around Port Phillip Bay. The compelling lines of the old rail lines speak to the history of the old Port Melbourne piers and ship terminals while the boys, oblivious to this, only have another courageous dive into the water on their minds. 


Ironically, this is the first image I captured for what would be this project and exhibition, yet I knew it would be the last in the exhibition and it works as a kind of full-stop or bookend — the sun disappearing behind the clouds is a metaphor for summer coming to an end for another year.