Manscapes exhibition - raising awareness of men’s mental health

Byron Bay-based artist John Bortolin’s passion for landscapes and male nudes has come together in an exquisite photography exhibition to raise awareness of men’s mental health and building support for men in need.
Date and Location
Saturday, October 21, 2017 - 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Suzanne O’Connell Gallery
93 James Street
New Farm QLD 4005

His new exhibition opens at the Suzanne O’Connell Gallery* in New Farm at 4 pm on Saturday 21 October. It will include a live nude model and the launch of his 2018 Manscapes Calendar to raise money for charity.
John’s love of photography developed when he studied at the QLD College of Art in the 1980s and was honed as a freelancer shooting weddings, portraits and landscapes, as well as celebrity magazine shoots and VIP red carpet events in Sydney.
In January 2015 he published a book of male nudes against amazing landscapes called
Manscapes, to worldwide acclaim. He’s now working on Manscapes ll, to be released in late 2018.
When John first started the Manscapes’ project, he never guessed how far it would take him –
personally, creatively and professionally.
“I’m drawn to the beauty of the landscape around Byron Bay, and decided to combine it with the power and vulnerability of the male form,” he said. “Over 25 men had the courage to reveal themselves to my camera lens, including farmers, tradesmen, uni students and personal trainers. “These are ordinary guys who hadn’t been professionally photographed before,” John said.
But in October 2015, tragedy struck when one of his models took his own life. It was a shock to all who knew him. Rhys McNaughton was a handsome, generous young school teacher with a seemingly perfect life. John felt honoured to have spent time with Rhys. “When I looked at his photographs, I felt the hurt that he must have been feeling but was unable to share,” he said. In honour of Rhys and to try to make a difference to young men aged 18 - 25 as they transition from boys to men, John decided the next Manscapes project would raise awareness of men’s mental health issues. As a result, part of the profits from his 2018 Manscapes Calendar will go to the charity A Chance For Change. “In many ways getting naked in front of a camera is symbolic of a stripping away of ego and fear, John said.

“If I can make a difference to any of these young guys or people who look at the book, I’ll be
honouring Rhys and others who feel trapped and unable to express themselves.” John’s chosen charity, A Chance For Change, raises awareness of men’s mental health problems
and helps builds support for men in need. Their slogan is ‘Speaking Up Is Manning Up’. The not-for-profit organisation was born out of a desire to make a change in men’s fight against depression by challenging stereotypes of what it means to be a man in today’s world.
John hopes he can empower men to open up emotionally through his work. ENDS
*Suzanne O’Connell Gallery breaks the mould with Manscapes exhibition Suzanne O’Connell is an established art consultant and dealer specialising in sourcing fine Aboriginal art from Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.
Set in a traditional Queenslander, Suzanne’s private gallery is known for showcasing high-quality Indigenous art from across the country. Works generally range from painting and sculpture, to ceramics, works on bark and fibre objects. She even showcased traditional Indigenous art in a six-month exhibition in Monaco in 2016, titled Defending the Oceans at the Heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art.
So why has she decided to host an exhibition by John Bortolin – a white man from Byron Bay?
Suzanne said while she’s committed to and passionate about Indigenous art, showing John’s
photography appealed because of its mix of amazing Australian scenery and incredible images of the sculpted male body. And one of the subjects is Aboriginal. “I cut my teeth in the area of performance art, and I couldn’t go past John’s fantastic portrayal of the male body,” she said.
“I know I may raise some eyebrows for hosting this exhibition, but it’s an extension of my
dedication to high quality Australian art and my love for photography, as well as on opportunity to show work which aims to expose men fully, in a way not usually seen,” she said. Suzanne said she expects the exhibition to attract attention, given the content (nude males) and her temporary change of focus.

Contact Details
Contact Person: 
John Bortolin
0413 526 276