C. Moore Hardy

As a feminist who’s just turned sixty I’ve got wisdom, I’ve got knowledge and I think I’m pretty fabulous for my age.

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I’m a professional perve. I’m a shutter slut. I’m a photographer.

I’m a subversive and a pervert. I like those labels.

As a feminist who’s just turned sixty I’ve got wisdom, I’ve got knowledge and I think I’m pretty fabulous for my age.

I consider myself a Sydney sider. I was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney – couldn’t be more queer. I had a Catholic upbringing with the usual indoctrination, and went to a proper Catholic high school for girls – Brigidine College. But despite all that, Catholicism gave me a social conscience, taught me to acknowledge the problems of others. Today for me the church has way too much money and spends too much time indoctrinating people in developing countries to produce more children.

I had a lot of boyfriends when I was young, but I suddenly realised I wasn’t getting a relationship, or not the kind of relationship I wanted and needed.

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My mother was a pharmacist and did not accept that she should obey my father. She instilled in us a sense of drive. It wasn’t about getting married, or having a family, it was about fulfilling ourselves. I never felt any pressure to be married, but when I came out to my parents they said; “you can do better than that.” So my mother in reality has always considered women as second rung on the ladder. She treats my brothers differently. She is still alive and I take care of her. She goes to church every day. She doesn’t do drugs and alcohol, she does God.

I’m blessed with great genes, my father being Lebanese and my mother being Irish. I’m a bit lipstick lesbian, a bit leather, jodhpurs in winter and shorts in summer. For me it’s all about being happy in my own body. We get these messages about how women should look, particularly older women, but if you don’t own the way you look and be proud of it then women will go on being unhappy with how they look and who they are. We are so indoctrinated with the adoration of the young body, the look of being younger – that expectation of looking twenty when we’re seventy. All botox and liposuction. In other cultures there is greater appreciation of the matriarch, which honours older women.

I’m the size of a man. I’ve never had to worry at night when I’ve been out by myself taking photos, particularly after taking self-defence lessons with Penny Gulliver. I feel empowered. I’ve always been confident, but I am also mindful of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m a big grrl.

I lacked images of strong women when I was growing up. I wanted pictures of lesbians. I started taking photos in 1979. I was involved in all kinds of politics from those days – women’s rights, animal rights, anti-nuclear, conservation, our natural heritage, gay and lesbian rights. I care deeply about the society I live in.

Art is my life blood. Photography is important to me because from an early age I’ve had a visual sensitivity, where I can see things that others don’t necessarily see. My timing is also fantastic for social documentary work. It’s almost like I can picture something just before it’s going to happen, or being there at the right time is such an asset. It is about a social conscience, timing and a visual language. I’m telling a story within each picture.

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Nowadays we see everything on Instagram and social media and there are so many dull pictures. But the ones that are interesting really capture something. Humour, pathos, wit and the politics.

I have suffered through lots of rejection as an artist. I’ve pitched my stuff to so many places who don’t call back. But you just have to keep at it. Unfortunately Australia doesn’t have a tradition of philanthropy or patronage. So you have to remain persistent. Work hard and believe in yourself. And support others around you. That’s why I always try to buy artworks by women.

 

I was always called aggressive, but I consider myself to be assertive. I love comedy, satire and humour. The wild things. The fabulous things. I’m also a bit of a bad feminist, as defined by Roxanne Gay.

My activism has been about recording our history. I’ve been on the board of Mardi Gras and the board of Pride. I documented so many of our events. It’s important to support events in our community, and to see what’s going on. What are our new challenges?

Really, I’m a bit of a sticky beak. But I do hope younger people understand that I put all those images out there for them to have as a history. I hope that they see what I’ve done as encouraging.

I try to document the subcultures. The celebrities. The families and couples. The drag queens. The drag kings. The perverts. The queers. The leather crowd. The Bears. Even the subcultures within the broader LGBTIQ community. The festivals. The parties. The outfits. Mardi Gras. The Gay Games. We need archives of our community. My pictures from the last thirty years are now available through the City of Sydney archivePix.

I’ve had many exhibitions of my work and I’ve worked collectively with other artists. Last year I curated an exhibition about LGBTIQ families at the Australian Centre for Photography. Next year I’m having a retrospective exhibition of my work, and I’m enjoying sifting through everything, choosing shots. The images that say something about the community.

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I used to be a commercial photographer. I studied at all three major art colleges in Sydney including the National Art School, Sydney College of the Arts and COFA. Through hard work and good contacts I had managed to build a good reputation in the community. I stopped being a commercial photographer just after my sister died. I lost my competitive edge in the new digital marketplace.

My sister was my closest friend, but she died when she was forty nine. When I lost her it was a massive jolt to my system. Then my father died. Those two deaths sent me downhill, and it took a few years to work my way back.

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So I’ve had to sacrifice a lot, often working as a registered nurse to fund my photography. It’s not like you can stop. But you have to sometimes take a break – you can’t look after somebody else unless you look after yourself first.

I’m in a twenty-four year relationship with the most fantastic person. Which is significant. I want to show everyone how happy that makes me. It’s great for other queers to see that it really can happen, we really can stay together. You don’t hear much about long-term relationships in our community. My relationship is the core of my life. My girlfriend inspires me. Gives me confidence. Gives me strength. Makes me laugh.

But some days I don’t consider myself a lesbian. I am in a relationship with the most amazing person. Why do I have to call myself a lesbian? What’s that all about?

As I get older I realise I don’t have enough time to do everything. I have to be more selective about what I do. There are so many things out there to do and play with, but I have to focus on the things that are really important and necessary. I’m a very energetic person. My garden gives me a lot of energy. I talk to the plants. I swim. I like to dance. I walk the dog. My health is good. Realistically I’ve had a lot of fun. You can see that in my pictures. I’ve seen so much.

I think I’ll be remembered through my photographs. And I’d also like to be remembered as a creative ratbag with a great sense of humour – there really aren’t enough of us.

I haven’t bought my headstone yet, but my girlfriend has.

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You can view C.Moore’s photographs here: ArchivePix: City of Sydney Archives digital photograph bank under the   ‘C.Moore Hardy Collection

Photography by Viv McGregor

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