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​Island Symmetries


Laura Pannack - island-symmetries06.jpg

Laura Pannack, Island Symmetries, courtesy the artist

According to travel psychology, the appearance of similarity between any two places is directly proportional to the distance between them. What is nearest seems absolutely dissimilar, totally foreign. Often the most striking similarities are ones we find clear on the other side of the world.

Inspired by this notion I focused my attention on two communities either side of the Earth to continue my constant exploration of youth. Keeping my focus tight I positioned myself at the key meeting place where young people would flock to socialize. The Cracker in Tipton, UK and Topside in Gagebrook, Tasmania. The uncanny often-subtle parallels are a stark reminder that youth is universal and growing up in a tight nit community brings often-predictable trends, relationships and behaviors.

We begin in Tibby. Through a narrow alleyway you enter the Cracker; rolling grass lined with blackberries and stinging nettles. Motorbikes, peds and quads bark loudly everyday and at all times. On the adjacent side lies ‘The Lost City Estate’. Most of the boys meet at Jack Barrett’s bars (a metal fence that lies to the opening of the field). They perch and exchange stories, cigarettes and zoots alight referring to each other affectionately as ‘Mush’.

Laura Pannack, Island Symmetries, courtesy the artist

Aurélie Scouarnec, Feræ, courtesy the artist

10873 miles away I found parallels with The Cracker, in a small island state at the farthest end of the globe. Gagebrook—’Gagey’ to locals—a small community in Tasmania. The kids are on the edge of adolescence. The tipping point. They’re bored, wild-eyed. They ride BMXs and watch as low-slung, red and metallic Holden Commodores growl and screech into ‘burnouts’. Dirt bikes roar through the playgrounds, their helmet-less riders pulling wheelies.
Just like on the Cracker, the kids swig back energy drinks. Dilated pupils and excited squeals follow. Small cross body pouches and the latest trainers are boasted. The fickle and intense friendships are identical on both sides of the world. The air is filled with tension, drama and aggression. Someone is threatened with a knife. A forming and promotion of one’s strength and dominance. Mostly these kids are still soft, polite. Sometimes they call me ‘miss’.

Laura Pannack


Laura Pannack is a London based photographer. Renowned for her portraiture and social documentary work, she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer. Her work has been extensively exhibited and published worldwide, including at The National Portrait Gallery, The Houses of Parliament, Somerset House and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Her artwork has received much acclaim and won numerous awards, among which are the John Kobal Award, Vic Odden prize, World Photo Press Awards, Juliet Margaret Cameron award and the HSBC Prix de la Photographie prize.
Driven by research-led, self-initiated projects, Pannack seeks to fully understand the lives of those she captures on film in order to portray them as truthfully as possible. Perceiving “time, trust and understanding” to be the key elements to achieving this, many of her projects develop over several years, helping her achieve a genuine connection between herself and her sitter and allowing her to capture the intimacy, shared ideas and shared experiences of this relationship.

Laura Pannack - island-symmetries11.jpg

Laura Pannack, Island Symmetries, courtesy the artist

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