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Affinities in difference

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News

By Rayannon Innes

Belonging. It’s that innate sense of peace with who and where you are as a human being that we all attempt to pursue.

One particular woman, a linguist and self-trained photographer by trade, is exploring this sentiment for herself through the photographic documentation of her community’s people. Four years ago, Natalie Testorelli decided to collate her black and white portraiture of Newcastle’s refugee community into an expanding body of work which she has found to reveal as much about herself as the diversified individuals being captured. Having migrated to Australia at a very young age, Natalie has found locating her own sense of belonging to be a persistent journey. With her collection of portraits now exceeding two hundred, the act of photographically archiving her community has in turn made her herself feel established within Newcastle both geographically and emotionally;

“The process of gathering images and thinking about the project, has me feeling as if I too belong… we all love this place and we all just want to get along and find our way through life.”

With the intent of highlighting how diversity and otherness subsequently unifies us, Natalie has been volunteering her time to photographing anyone willing to sit, state their name, and share their postcode. In the formalities of consent, Natalie’s subjects join the myriad of portraits illustrating Newcastle’s distinctly diverse community. With her subjects’ postcodes, Natalie envisages developing a visual map built from the portraits of each participants’ postal zone.

From volunteer cooks at the local community centre to a young couple requesting to pose with their son’s beloved dog, Natalie’s documentation of the strange and wonderful in the everyday is testament to her project’s core premise, “I think that’s belonging; knowing there are other people who are really different to me, who still feel the same way as I do”

If you don’t come across Nat’s photo booth at a community event, you can make an appointment over the phone or by email to have your photo captured for the project at her studio space in Hamilton’s Clocktower Studios.