Photographer puts Bob Dylan's fame in frame

23:18, Aug 10 2014
Mark Hamilton,
DYLAN ON SHOW: Mark Hamilton, a local commercial photographer displays a series of Bob Dylan song inspired portraits in the backstage area at Claudelands Event Centre, in Hamilton.

Work by a Hamilton photographer was under the nose of Bob Dylan at the weekend.

Mark Hamilton created a series of portraits inspired by Dylan's music which were displayed in the Claudeland Events Centre - perfect timing for the singer's two shows at the venue at the weekend.

The portraits, which artistically show different characters from Dylan's songs, are on display in the venue's backstage area, which Dylan used to enter and exit the stage.

"It's just an opportunity that's presented itself," Hamilton said last week. "I've got no idea whether he'll see them or not. If he does, that's good. For me it's just getting the work out there for people to see. If the man gets to see them himself, that's great."

The subjects of the portraits, shot over the past two and a half years, are framed with dark and often surreal landscapes.

The intent is for people to view the images and wander across this fantasy landscape, randomly stumbling across the characters.


Some are central to Dylan's songs, such as Hollis Brown from the ballad of the same name, while others are inspired by as little as a single line.

In one portrait, a young man stands in a dilapidated basement, apparently preparing drugs. The scene comes from a lyric in Subterranean Homesick Blues: "Johnny's in the basement, mixing up the medicine."

The portrait is the professional photographer's favourite.

"Everything came together, the light's nice, the colour's nice, the detail's nice, the concept worked. They're all favourites, but if I had to stick one on my wall, that would be the one."

The 53-year-old hopes Dylan will at least recognise the characters, but is not desperate to receive recognition from the singer.

"If his Bobness was to sign a portrait that would be nice.

"It's not that it needs validation, but it would mean that he'd seen it."

Despite being a Dylan fan since 1977, Hamilton is happy to joke about the singer's potential reaction.

"Imagine if he didn't like it, if he retires after seeing those pictures!"

"At the end of the day they're my interpretations and that's art. It's even like Bob Dylan himself, he reinterprets his music all the time. He'll record it for an album but he'll never play it the same again."

Mark Hamilton's next project is a series of portraits inspired by Australian songwriter Nick Cave's album Murder Ballads. ■ Louis Houlbrooke is a communications student at AUT.

Waikato Times