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A couple of old mates on a serious mission

Tuesday, 8th February, 2011

Writer Jack Marx (left) and photographer Robin Sellick meet again in a familiar setting to discuss a pictorial book about Broken Hill Writer Jack Marx (left) and photographer Robin Sellick meet again in a familiar setting to discuss a pictorial book about Broken Hill

By Stefan Delatovic

Jack Marx wants to hear Broken Hill's best yarns.

Mr Marx is a Walkley-award-winning journalist and the author of three non-fiction books. 

He has written for Rolling Stone and Ralph, and he currently posts "The Jack Marx Affair" blog on News.com.au. 

He writes colourfully and directly, and his unflinching work has generated awards and howls of protest.

Mr Marx is an old friend of photographer Robin Sellick, who moved back to his home town of Broken Hill after spending time photographing Prime Ministers and celebrities. 

When they were both working in Sydney, Mr Marx said they kept being coincidently booked for the same jobs - he would turn up to interview someone and find Mr Sellick taking their portrait.

"One famous time I turned up at a hotel in Sydney to find Robin sitting at the bar, eating a big breakfast, and told me to order one for myself," he said.

Mr Marx was a staff writer for Ralph Magazine at the time, and his employers had booked a hotel room for him and Mr Sellick to produce a piece on Andrew Denton.

Mr Marx, thinking the room was being paid for by Mr Sellick's employer - whoever they may be - ordered a breakfast and enough alcohol to see out the day. Too late he discovered that the tab had been sent back to his boss.

Speaking from the front bar of the West Darling Hotel, Mr Marx said he had so far been impressed with the hotel and the shop fronts visible from the front bar

He was quick to add that he'd only landed in the city half an hour earlier, and had gone straight to the West Darling. 

Mr Sellick has been assembling a collection of portraits of a range of Broken Hill people. He hopes to assemble the work into a book that will show the breadth of Australian society.

Mr Marx is here to talk with Mr Sellick's subjects, with a short story planned to accompany each portrait in the book.

It was a hard question to ask, but Mr Marx said he was always looking for the biggest, existence-defining story his subjects had.

"Most people have got them. If it's not about them, it's about something their uncle did that everybody remembers and the town was never the same afterwards," he said.

Mr Sellick was delighted yesterday to his old mate on board. He said he had always wanted him to do the work and now he was, his words would be elevated to equal billing with the portraits.

"Jack is an amazing writer. He has a wonderful way of capturing a person, and there's a lot of stories in Broken Hill," he said.

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