Engage08 (photo by Joel Alston)

Getting to know Dylan Smyth

Dylan Smyth is a graduate of Fine Art and Industrial Design from University of Newcastle who has a love for custom made books and the city of Newcastle.

Both his passions are set to collide with the launch of his latest project, 2hrsnorth, which celebrates the diversity of Newcastle in a limited edition photo book format.

To secure your own copy of some or all of the 2hrsnorth photobook editions, throw your support behind the project on Pozible.

Tell us about your background including what drew you into your area of study/interest.

I was born in Taree and spent my childhood there before venturing south to the big smoke of Newcastle for University. I grew up in a beautiful home being built entirely by my parents over about a ten year period which provided both great inspiration and hands on skills gained from helping Dad on the tools. I’ve always had a real love of design and architecture and that’s what lead me into my initial degree studying Industrial Design which I absolutely loved.  Oh and I lived on campus when I first went to University which was simply the best!

After studying I traveled and lived overseas for several years having an absolute blast and when I returned to Australia in 2010 I decided to start a new career path in Visual Art since I’m a geek and thought it would be a fun challenge to start out all over again. Its was a huge commitment studying and working full time for three years to get to where I am today but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I work in photography  as an exhibiting artist and bookmaker. My work predominately presents contemporary landscapes and the urban environment.

Engage07Dylan’s studio space within Renew Newcastle activated site, Wolfe Studio’s on Hunter Street Mall.

What’s been the most unexpected aspect of your work so far?

I make illustrations of Newcastle buildings when I’m a bit sick and tired photographing and editing work. I’ve been at it for a few years and one day I took a look and realized how many I have. It wasn’t really a plan but now I have a wall full of them in my studio and it makes for a pretty cool collection of Architecture throughout the city. When I find a minute I’m going to make more of an effort to share them with the world outside my studio I think.

newcastle architecture dylan smythNewcastle Architecture zine by Dylan Smyth

Do you draw on any people or resources (books / online etc) for inspiration?

I’m big on books, while studying I was constantly juggling a huge pile of art books; you know the ones the size of a tabletop. Do Libraries have loyalty cards? If so they must owe me lots of stamps and some sort of prize. I used to have a constant stack of about ten on my desk. Since graduating I lost library privileges and now I have to buy my books. Now that I think of it that’s probably what led me into my more recent interest in self publishing and artist produced photobooks which tend to be more affordable and very contemporary since they are quicker and cheaper to produce.

You have started the 2hrs North project. Can you tell us a little about how that came about?

So, 2hrsNorth is a project I had floating around my head for a few  months before I finally floated it online through my personal blog in about April. In honesty the idea was kind of only half-cooked at the time but after I received loads of interest right off the bat I knew I would have to make it happen, and that’s been what I’ve more or less been doing over the last few months.

 The project is about three key things:

1. Provide a free platform for local photographers to present their work to the public.

2. Allow photographers to collaborate, develop ideas and build ongoing working relationships.

3. Represent all the amazing and diverse communities and suburbs that make up the greater city of Newcastle.

It’s really about celebrating an entire city and not just focusing on the beach side and inner city suburbs. And what better way to do that then through the eyes of some very talented local photographers.

The format and funding for the project grew out of trying to best achieve these three points in an interesting way and after several adjustments I came up with the plan to release small and affordable photobooks intermittently over six months and also to crowd-fund the project through Pozible. I guess if you can come up with clear direction and goals you want to achieve after that its just a matter of finding the ways that will get you there and thats what I’ve been doing for the past few months. Forgetting all that though the project is only as strong as the work we produce and I’m really excited by the super talented bunch of contributing Artists assembled already and look forward to filling the few remaining spots I’ve left open for some more great photographers yet to be discovered. Anyone looking to be involved can contact me through the contact details they’ll find on the 2hrsnorth website.


Pages from 2hrsnorth, Volume 1. Curated by Dylan Smith, photos by Dylan Smyth

What’s been your proudest achievement to date?

Early this year I released my first photobook called Coal River. Basically its a contemporary take on coal export from Newcastle and the Hunter. Through the book I’m trying to give people a feel for the sheer size and relentless nature of an industry that’s happening right on our doorstep here in Newcastle. I’m petty proud of the final product which took many many revisions and several years of photographing. I ran a solo exhibition when I launched it and that was pretty sweet as well.

 What would be your dream project?

 Design and build my dream home, then the furniture inside it and then the art on the walls. Then I’d probably move out because I’d no doubt get bored with it.

coal-river-dylan-smythCoal River by Dylan Smyth


What’s your favorite Newcastle neighbourhood and why?

My girlfriend and I recently moved to Carrington and we love it. Such a nice village type atmosphere in amongst the huge industry of the port. But I’m making a project on all the suburbs of Newcastle, so clearly I love them all…and I actually do, they all have different charm and are unique in their own way.

What do you look forward to doing most in Newcastle in summer?

Swims at the beach before work, kayaking past massive ships in the harbour and afternoon beers in Honeysuckle or Merewether.

And winter?

Coffee and exploring awesome art, design type stores in Hunter Street Mall.

Where and what was the last greatest meal you had in Newcastle?

Delucas Pizza (159b Darby St, Cooks Hill) is this great small Italian family run place and man the pasta is good at that place. Yum!

Best place to getaway to?

Seal Rocks is hard to miss and the lakes around it are great as well.

Your #1 Newcastle insiders tip?

Walking into Burwood Beach and escaping beach crowds in summer.

Can you name a local hero?

Trevor Dickinson and Liz Anelli are locally-based artists that are well established and often work in local subject matter which I like a lot.

Engage042hrsnorth, volume 1 featuring  by Dylan Smyth

Do you know someone in our region making a difference? Let us know! engage@newcastle.edu.au

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