DerekHenderson2001
Credit: Derek Henderson/Courtesy of the artist

In 1999, the photographer Derek Henderson did as many creative émigrés living in Bondi before and after him have done. He went to Icebergs.

“A bunch of us turned up. I remember we were a bit rowdy back then, but Maurice” – that’s Maurice Terzini, restauranteur behind the iconic establishment – “was the amazing host he is and has always been and just took it in his stride.”

“We immediately connected on a creative level,” Terzini also recalls of that fateful first meeting, “and I knew that we would have a long term working relationship.”

Henderson, a New Zealander by birth, first moved to the beachside locale in 1990. “It was a lot different back then to how it is now,” he observes, “but the one thing that has stayed the same [is] the beach.” Later, the two would reconnect through a mutual friend, the late Scottish-born artist and designer David Band, whose design and branding work largely defined the restaurant’s visual identity and those of many other establishments in both Sydney and Melbourne. That second encounter would prove to be a most fortifying one.

Soon after they met, Henderson and Terzini began working on the images of the Bondi horizon in motion that have, in part, become synonymous with the restaurant through its menu covers. In one image, sea and sky merge seamlessly in the crepuscular light; in another, the breaking dawn diffuses the frame with the kind of glow many dream of capturing but ultimately proves to be elusive in less skilled hands.

DerekHenderson20022
Credit: Courtesy of the artist
DerekHenderson1999
Credit: Courtesy of the artist

“We have been working on these images together since 1999 and have always had the idea that one day we would show them at Icebergs. It just felt right to do it now”, says Henderson, who will open a show focused on his landscape photography next week. In each of the ten photographs being exhibited, there is no obvious dominant focus – which is not to say that they aren’t striking, vivid works within their own right. Instead, each part of the composition commands equal weight. The photographs, taken between 1999 and 2017, “really showcase the true beauty of Bondi Beach, and give a fresh perspective on the ever-changing landscape”, adds Terzini, who is staging the exhibition in collaboration with Ten Pieces, the utilitarian label he co-designs with his partner Lucy Hinckfuss.

When Henderson started out working in the neighbourhood that has come to capture much of what defines Australia’s collective cultural output, the nature of the suburb itself was largely discordant with the prevailing school of thought that it has come to embody today. “You could walk down Hall Street at about 6pm [on] any night of the week and it was dead. But I do remember the band Nirvana stayed at Ravesi’s in 1992 as their album Nevermind was being released in America and they were hanging out with the locals at the pub and down the beach”, Henderson says. “It’s a bit more of a shopping [and] restaurant scene now, that’s for sure. I don’t mind it, it employs people and that’s a good thing.”

And unlike the skyline, both natural and manmade, Henderson says his friend Maurice has remained much the same over the years. “I mean, he has always been full of energy and strives for perfection with whatever he is doing. He nurtures young talent from all walks of life. I’ve seen him help out a lot of young artists who are now very successful. He’s also a very generous person and we both have partners and kids. It’s all good, I love the guy.”

Ten Photographs x Derek Henderson will exhibit from June 5 until August 6 at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, Bondi Beach from 12pm. More information is available here.

Tile and cover image: Derek Henderson/Courtesy of the artist

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