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‘And I believe in Love’

 by Sophie Howarth 


Looking back over the years, Nick Cave has been the perfect subject to photograph. My one personal encounter with him was outside the Duxton Hotel in Perth; the day after his 2011 Big Day Out show.


Nick Cave’s presence holds a significant place in my photographic archive. At different times, he was often at the Big Day Out festival. At festivals and music venues alike, he emerges from my photographs alive, present to the moment – stepping out or allowing us to step in; communicating.



A Nick Cave show is known to have this quality. To me it feels a spiritual quality that says we ‘are captured one more time’ - again and again.


At home, my world has been saturated with his music; creating mood, enhancing what mood exists — the soundtrack to a moment that needs a kind of religion; often one song over and over again.

It is in the live performance that I reflect upon deeply here and how we can be transported into a feeling of otherworldliness, away from our daily life. Within the experience of sound and performance we can, and do, disappear into and reappear from an essence. Immersed together – the feeling, the performance, the performer, the room, the festival, the dark, the sunshine – the mood of the time represented; all these elements show up in the performance and performer/s — allowing a photograph to live in a dynamic way.

Of his talent, Nick Cave has said that writing allowed direct access to his imagination, to inspiration and, ultimately, to God. He has said “…that through the use of language I was writing God into existence. Language became the blanket that I threw over the invisible man, which gave him shape and form. The actualizing of God through the medium of the Love Song remains my prime motivation as an artist.’

Passages such as these have given me creative inspiration and confidence. So, when I was contacted by Support Act, I was excited by the offer to create a T-Shirt for Aus Music T-shirt Day 2023. It’s a favourite initiative of mine that supports those who have fallen on hard times/doing it tuff in the Australian Music Industry. For me, it was a chance to pay homage to Nick Cave and to the industry that has given me such a rewarding and nourishing career.

Nick Cave’s lyrics and writing have taken me to places inside myself, lighting a path of understanding within about universal matters.

His book ‘The Complete Lyrics 1978 – 2001’ discusses the loss of his father and the connection to his writing. He explains his personal growth and understanding through suffering and loss. He says he used writing a tool of healing - life giving and sustaining. Through this very direct connection he made and shared, I began to understand the importance of art. I began to understand, and truly believe, that art has the possibility to function on very deep levels.

Making sense of our emotions, spirit and life force; art gives me a profound framework for understanding and meaning in my inner world.

So much of the themes and life philosophy I felt drawn to during my teens and formative years at Art School, began through art. They became part of my work. As I continued with these thoughts, elements integrated into my art practise. Like Nick Cave, I too felt ‘…touched by the hand of that which is not of this world.’ (Nick Cave ‘The Complete Lyrics 1978 – 2001’).

I began using words into my artworks. See how an artwork from my book ‘Peace Love and Brown Rice a Photographic History of the Big Day Out’ places ‘Into My Arms’ lyrics combined with an extract from Nick Cave’s essay ‘the Secret Life of the Love Song’.

‘But I believe in Love

And I know that you do too

And I believe in some kind of path

That we can walk down, me and you’ p.265

‘The Love Song' is the sound of our endeavours to become God-like, to transcend the earth-bound and the mediocre. I believe ‘The Love Song' to be a sad song; possibly the noise of sorrow itself.

Many of us experience what the Portuguese call ‘saudade’, an inexplicable longing. An unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul. For me ‘Saudade’ is the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world. 'The Love Song' is the light of God; deep within, blasting up through our wounds.’

My first experience of working with Aus Music T-shirt Day came about in 2021 when I aligned with The People Vs. It was during the pandemic, and we were all seeking connection. This year’s collaboration draws on my 2021 tee, which showed the Big Day Out crowd.

Nick Cave, as a starting point, inspired Bec at Support Act. Searching my archive with her brief in mind, my starting point was an image of Nick and Kylie from 1997, and Nick Cave at a Big Day Out performance. Once I began my archive search, he was popping up in all the places I had forgotten - Lollapalooza, more BDO’s, The Enmore, with the Bad Seeds, Dirty Three, and Grinderman. In all these performances, I see him embody the tension between the divine and the everyday - blasting out Love.

A timely and relevant collaboration, I see Nick Cave as a “Support Act” to our inner selves, the “saudade” he understands through a life lived. Nick Cave has not turned away from his pain and suffering but faced it with humility, curiosity and the softness of a caring parent. Love, in all its ways, is a constant need in our life journeys.

In Nick Cave’s words ‘…ultimately the Love Song exists to fill, with language, the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.’

I believe the camera has the same opportunity. My hope is that the Love of Nick Cave blasts out through this T-Shirt; reaching out, inspiring acts of love and support!!

Trading as Sophie Howarth Photography

@sophiehowarthphotography (Meta)



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