Beneath the Surface explores the concept of otherness in the central Queensland community of Rockhampton. Rockhampton has been labelled a town of intolerance, racism, homophobia, and rednecks. Photographer Lisa Clarke confronts and challenges mainstream understanding of regional Australia, in particular, a region predominately known for being Australia’s beef capital.
Rather than focus on generalised stereotypes, the photographer actively sought to document the different cross-sections of Rockhampton’s population, each going about their everyday lives.
University-educated sex workers; former bikies turned antique store owners, and part-time drag queens offer an alternative vision from the view mass media projects of this town and its people - rarely showcased in a positive light. It’s an exhibition challenging the viewer to reassess their own initial prejudices. Living in this Queensland community between 2012 to 2016, Lisa gained a much greater understanding of the locals – people from which she initially felt completely isolated.
She learned the expectations, hopes and dreams of those she documented were not inherently different from those who’ve had the opportunity for higher education, further career opportunities and access to wider intellectual stimulation – those opportunities readily accessible in Australia's capital cities.
Perhaps most surprising was Lisa’s discovery that this community has a greater understanding of itself as a whole than most would realise, and doesn’t seek outside approval.