The culmination of a four-year project documenting sporting courts and fields across the globe, Courts, the debut book by Australian photographer Ward Roberts, is filled with colour-drenched images that operate as both playful documentary studies and intriguing formal propositions.
Tracing similar thematic ground to Paris-based photographer Giasco Bertoli, whose book Tennis Courts(Nieves, 2009) described abandoned courts amid European woodlands and suburbia, Roberts instead hones his focus to the dense urban landscape. Whether set against a backdrop of Hong Kong’s pastel high-rises and smog-filtered light, London’s manicured garden beds and quaint architectural details, or the concrete and brick palette of Melbourne and New York, Roberts’ photographs prove striking for their linear properties and architectural contexts.
At the core of the work, however, Roberts frames the court as a kind of “neutral zone” – a site of “shared experience and understanding” that harbours the potential to transcend cultural and socio-economic circumstance.
Ward Roberts was born in Australia before spending much of his childhood living in Hong Kong. He relocated to Melbourne in 1994, where he graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Arts in photography (2008). He has since garnered national and international recognition as an emerging artist. He won the Xto Photography Fine Art Award (2009), was a finalist in the New York Photo Festival (2009) and has exhibited widely in Australia, the United States and Asia. Ward is represented by The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong.