(More than) 10 Questions: Award-winning Graduate Bernie Kaeding

This latest chapter features a recent graduate, Bernadette (Bernie) Kaeding (CCP Diploma 2014), who has since become pretty much a permanent fixture here at the CCP.

At least, Bernie is always present through her generous support of our exhibition openings in the Light Gallery with her wine label Red Art. And that’s as good a time as any to mention that Bernie will be supporting the upcoming CCP faculty exhibition, this year titled “Frame”. We will have a Red Art 2012 shiraz and 2011 petit verdot during all night long for your enjoyment.

Red Art is a collaboration with Bernie's partner in life Sam Kurtz and both are now both warm friends of the community that is the CCP.

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This dynamic duo have lived in Tanunda ever since I have known Bernie as a student. I was always so impressed that Bernie would make the drive down (and back after her classes finished at 10:00pm weekdays), often twice a week and sometimes more when Bernie broke the back of her Certificate IV. I remember all this was happening while working the winery full-time!

I recall Bernie first enrolled at the CCP just to complete a few subjects here, being Introduction to Photography to learn how to operate her camera and then Camera Portfolio 1 for a bit of conceptualising, so she could simply make images for her wine labels.

This was in 2010 and Bernie just kept going, completing her Certificate IV within a year. Bernie was hooked on photography and she kept coming back until graduating in 2014 with the final subject for her Diploma of Photo Imaging being Photography for an Exhibition, an intensive class we only run every couple of years.

But Bernie wasn’t quite done… the next term we asked if she would be interested in Portrait Photography 2 as an extra subject. This final subject fascinatingly enough provided the germ of an idea which went on to become an award winning book titled “True Stories - Portraits of Barossa Winemakers”.

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The book was relaunched here at the CCP with an exhibition and of course a delightful degustation featuring a wonderful selection of Red Art wines. As an aside, Bernie runs similar dinners semi-regularly and I would highly recommend you attend!

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Never one to sit on her laurels, Bernie is always developing her artistic projects and of course her wines have won numerous awards and as I tell anyone who will listen that I “bathe in this stuff” as often as I can! Most of all though, I really love the meshing of Bernie’s photographic vision with her passion for wine making. Just recently Joanna and I hung yet another one of Bernie’s images from her latest portfolio in our ever growing art collection at home, and as such we get to share in this vision every day.

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Now a firm friend of ours, it gives me great pleasure to illuminate today’s post with more than 10 questions from Bernadette Kaeding. Over to you Bernie:

MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS: Bernadette Kaeding

Photograph (c) Milton Wordley

Photograph (c) Milton Wordley

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

When I was in high school I had the opportunity to choose Photography as one of my elective subjects.  I had been quite fascinated by photography.  I was always keen on art, but felt the traditional drawing and painting was not suited to me.  This was confirmed by my year 9 art teacher who so eloquently wrote in my report card “she lacks the ability to draw”. Not one speck of constructive or positive feedback.  Just that one statement.  As you can see, I was able to let that slide and not hold on to any ill feelings.  Anyway, during the photography class, we were given little film cameras (this was back in the 80’s, so no digital) to photograph around the school and at home.  Once we got in the darkroom to process the film my love of photography materialised.  

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Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

After school I completed a Commerce Degree and entered the workforce, soon ending up in the wine industry. My partner Sam and I ended up purchasing our own vineyard and built a small winery.  I wanted to incorporate my love of photography into our business, initially through label design. I had my eye on the CCP for a few years.  Living in the Barossa, working and having a child, meant that it was difficult to get to the city and commit to any study.  When my son started school I decided it was time to squeeze the CCP into my life.  I liked the look of the CCP compared to other institutions because while it provided qualifications, there seemed to be flexibility and most importantly a strong sense of creativity.

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Are you making personal work?

Yes, I have started work on a new series which will be exhibited in my winery for an event in April 2017. I am only just into it, and I think the direction is going to change, so you’ll just have to wait and see where it ends up.

What inspires your work at the moment?

Stories and emotions.  My environment.  Light and shadow - it’s called Chiaroscuro - a term I learned when I first went into the studio as a student.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

I continue to work at my winery (with my partner Sam) which involves everything from grape growing, making wine, selling wine, and label design and so on.  I incorporate photography into my business through design and promotional imagery.  I also display my work in the winery and at consumer events.  It is a big part of my business.  My most recent completed project was a book and exhibition “True Stories: Portraits of Barossa Winemakers”.

Edit: here Bernie neglects to mention that in the 2016 Gourmand world cookbook awards, her “True Stories” won best wine book in Australia, and third in the world. If one does make it into this top three they may use the sobriquet "Best In The World".

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How has photography changed your life? 

It has given me so much joy, relaxation, happiness.  It provides me with the creative outlet I need, a different way of communicating and balances my business brain.  It has been extremely satisfying incorporating my two loves in one business; art and wine.

How have you changed since you were a student?

I have become a lot more confident in photography and in getting it out there.  My studies gave me skills, inspiration and a sense of direction.  Using that since study, and even while studying, has allowed me to use photography in my chosen areas (and not the areas that I don’t choose).

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

I know he was not a photographer, but since I was a teenager my biggest influence has been Rembrandt, purely because of the lighting and the drama, emotion and story telling his paintings invoke.  In the summer holidays after finishing year 12 I worked in an art gallery called the Hahndorf Academy.  We were exhibiting a Rembrandt etching series.  I spent those holidays reading every Rembrandt book we had in the gallery shop. My most influential photographer is Sally Mann, particularly her “Immediate Family” series.  Whenever I am looking for inspiration I pull out my Sally Mann books.

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

I didn’t know I could publish a book!  That was a real surprise.   

Edit: Did you know that you can purchase this piece of the Barossa history for just $35.00

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Research as many artists as you can.  Look in all areas because you never know where new inspirations can come from.  Take risks with your photography and don’t pigeon hole yourself; allow yourself to follow any direction.  

Further reading: Please take the time to read this fabulous interview with Bernie elaborating on her relationship to the wine industry... Cheers!