Keeping stories and memories alive through photography
When Belle Tweedale thinks back on where her love for photography came from, moments spent with her father as he developed family photos in their bathroom darkroom spring to mind.
From the first time holding her own camera, a Minolta Hi-Matic S, Belle knew it was a passion that was only going to continue to grow.
“As time went by, I travelled extensively and had children, all the while my passion for photography increased,” she said.
“I have always known photography was something I wanted to pursue, however back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I was encouraged to study maths and science, and ended up working in IT security.”
Choosing to take a leap and look into pursuing photography through schooling, Belle completed an eight-week People and Portrait Photography course at RMIT which led her to becoming a member of the Melbourne Camera Club (MCC).
From this, and through the encouragement of a friend she met while entering MCC’s competition and exhibitions, Belle went on to study an Advanced Diploma of Photography at PSC.
Now in the last semester of her fourth year, she said she had “never looked back”.
It is this drive and determination that has seen her turn a hobby into something much more.
“I am known as an energiser bunny who is fiercely determined to succeed and will not stop asking questions and researching until I am satisfied,” Belle said.
“I have a thirst for knowledge and experience, and I would love to run my own business and assist like-minded people in the industry.”
This fierce nature and passion for finding answers has not gone unnoticed in her latest body of work, when it led Belle to discover that her third great grandfather, Henry Warne Merrifield was murdered.
As a miner who was walking home one night with a parcel of gold to take to Bacchus Marsh, Belle’s grandfather was murdered in the “most foul and atrocious way” by two drunk men.
According to court records and newspaper articles, Henry was classified as an unknown man.
In addition to this, no photographs were attached to the documents and it led Belle to question if this made her grandfather’s story less memorable than if it was visually communicated through the newspapers of the time.
Of this work on The Unidentified Man, Belle said it “focuses on the relationship between memories and photographs, while paying respect to my third great grandfather.”
“If memory is the way people keep telling their stories, then photographs are one of the ways people keep these stories alive,” she said.
“We can’t underestimate the importance of memories. They make us who we are and allow us to actively participate in the world around us.” •