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I'm in a dead-end street in Melbourne's inner northstanding at an ivy-draped brick wall and a towering gate. Behind the gate lives Bill Henson, one of Australia's greatest, and most controversial, photographers. I press the buzzer, thinking of what Henson's friend, Barry Humphries, said about this palmshaded compound: a visit, he wrote, is "always a great event".

Moments later, Henson — sinewy, with a long bare forehead and thinning, greying collar-length hair — appears from a mid-compound door, a black Staffordshire bull terrier menacing ahead. Inside the gate a stillness falls instantly. The rest of the world — the city, Trump, Brexit, everything — fades and I slip into something I now call the Bill Bubble.

Bill Henson self-portrait, inspired by a Cicero quote: "If you have a garden and a library you will want for nothing.

In the bubble, art is king. Like inwhen then-prime minister Kevin Rudd condemned Bill henson controversial girls pictures of nude adolescents as "absolutely revolting", and the nation debated whether he was a pornographer masquerading as an artist, or worse, a paedophile.

Henson leads me up some steep stairs — dark, like his work — into an open-plan kitchen area. It's dark here, too. Bill henson controversial girls walls of this 19th-century converted warehouse are brown-black, but like everything Henson does, this is a considered choice: a Bristol paint colour called Bill henson controversial girls Marley, devised Sexy indian story in urdu the artist Henson suggests galleries use it before hanging his work.

As my eyes adjust, I see painter Louise Hearman, 53, Henson's long-term partner, walking towards me. With a big smile, she checks that Henson has offered me a drink Bill henson controversial girls bustles about fetching me a sparkling water. Pictured in Paddington, Credit: Ben Rushton. The two met in at the Victorian College of the Arts. Henson was guest-lecturing Bill henson controversial girls photography students. In his typically oblique fashion, the lesson involved playing obscure classical music in the darkroom.

Hearman was upstairs in Bill henson controversial girls painting room, and the music, says Henson, "drew her down". Long hair with shaved undercut styles never had any Bill henson controversial girls And Mr Pigs.

By any measure, Bill henson controversial girls Henson is a major international talent. His first solo show was inat the National Gallery of Victoria. He was Incrowds flocked to his retrospective at the nation's major public galleries. Over a year career, he's exhibited in New York, London and Paris. But for many outside the art world, he's famous not for his darkly beautiful renderings of nudes, landscapes, crowds and ruins.

Nor for the exploration of his favourite themes: the potency of adolescence, mortality, longing, beauty and love. It's the controversy that brought Henson true national fame. The furore ended in a whimper: no charges were laid over Henson's photographs of a nude year-old girl in his show at Sydney's Roslyn Oxley9 gallery.

The Classification Board rated the images PG — "mild" and safe for children. Henson went on to exhibit adolescent nudes in four commercial shows with no fuss. The artist himself wishes we would all stop talking about it: "The general public will be deeply bored by this," he sighs during one of our interviews.

But anxiety about Henson's work — and child protection more broadly — is always there. Like a cold sore, it erupts to the surface given the right conditions. And that's what happened three years ago. But in Septembera South Australian policeman, Michael Newbury, wrote to Premier Jay Weatherill urging him to "take a stand against the sexual exploitation of children".

Henson had not decided which images — nudes, landscapes or architecture shots — he would exhibit. In other words: no particular image offended Newbury. It was just the idea of Henson exhibiting at all. News Corporation's Adelaide newspapers backed Newbury. When, inhis work had attracted Bill henson controversial girls attention, what Bill henson controversial girls was a national debate — the law was tested, the work classified safe.

Inthough, Henson just seemed to roll over. In London at the time, he was briefed Bill henson controversial girls the brewing storm in Adelaide and withdrew from the Biennial. Speaking for the first time about the incident, Henson tells me he could see the media ramping up its rhetoric, the government nervous.

He didn't want to jeopardise the gallery's public funding. His show next month at the National Gallery of Victoria is Henson's first in a large, publicly funded gallery to include adolescent nudes since We sit by a window in a corner of Henson's dark study, in front of his computer. The sun, filtering through wind-tossed leaves, is dancing across the desk and Henson's trousers. It's like one of his photographs: mostly dark, with a small amount of light beguiling the eye. He clicks through pictures for the forthcoming Melbourne exhibition.

He chose the collection, taken between andfor philanthropist Bill Bowness, who gifted them to the gallery. Some images have featured in previous commercial gallery shows. The young nudes with cadaver-white skin are there, as well as dramatic coastlines and a stunning volcano rising from the sea. Henson begins to talk about the images in a conversational style he calls "discursively wandering off".

I call it a master class in art history. And that's very much the dynamic between us during this visit: Bill henson controversial girls and student, the latter expected not to interrupt too much. To give you an idea of how Henson's brain works within the Bill Bubble, take his explanation of one image: a nude boy, maybe 13, with a dreamy look on his face and a young girl leaning over him from behind.

The boy, Henson says, could be imagining the girl; like a gender-reversed depiction of death and the maiden a common artistic trope of a semi-nude woman and the angel of death. He cites Austrian symbolist painter Alfred Kubin, who produced a particularly good death and the maiden, then quotes French sculptor Auguste Rodin on the beauty of destroying the beautiful.

He follows up with a reference to wabi-sabi, the concept of imperfection in Japanese aesthetics. And finishes his answer citing the best musical version of the "sweet potential of life in the grip of death", composer Alban Berg's Violin Concerto.

Henson takes me on a tour of his collection of rare books, which Humphries once described as "one of the most interesting and Bill henson controversial girls private libraries in the southern hemisphere". There are novels by the late Irish writer Forrest Reid. There are tomes on Rembrandt, a Nabokov collection, the poems of W. Most of the books have "Bill Henson" pencilled inside, except a volume on Egyptian architecture, which reads "Billy Henson".

I picture the serious nine-year-old Billy, his head filled with the wonders of a land so far and foreign to south-east Melbourne's Glen Waverley, back then a place, he recalls, of Bill henson controversial girls roads, orchards and dairy cattle".

Henson was closer to his mother than his furrier father, whom he describes as "a little bit mystified by this odd, art-obsessed child". They divorced when he was a teenager. His sister, Elizabeth, is five years younger.

We head down the dark stairs and into the studio where Henson works, sometimes for years, on each worthy negative. It's where he "tickles" out the images from a giant 1.

Framed prints — centimetres wide by centimetres tall — are stacked on trolleys, piling up like "sedimentary layers", he says. We leave this room, emerge into the sunlight, and walk across some white gravel to a large, open-door shed. It's here that he brings his young models and their parents. He works with each model for years, as their teenage bodies transform. He photographs adolescents, he says, because "it's a floating world of growing independence and exponential growth; pregnant with meaning and Bill henson controversial girls for things to go well or not so well".

The Age art critic Robert Nelson says: "It's probably fair to say he's obsessed with young bodies. One of his models, from early in Henson's career, is now approaching Looking out from the open door of Henson's studio, Bill henson controversial girls admire his magnificent walled garden, with palms and ferns nodding over a rectangle of white gravel.

At the garden's end is a gate that leads to a backstreet. In the eye of the storm, with the media parked outside for days, this was one of his escape routes. His neighbours were helpful, too. When they saw one of the media's white station wagons in the street, they phoned him: "Incoming! On my second visit Henson is dressed more casually : grey jeans and a faded black T-shirt, whose sleeves run snug across taut biceps his personal trainer turns him into "human paste" three times a week.

I tell him there appears to be a parcel shoved in his letter box, which Hollywood actress hot realsex pic retrieves. This time, up the stairs and into the darkness, we sit opposite each other at a wooden table.

A piece of thick paper has been attached, like a skirt, to the light above us, muting it. The effect is like a Cold War interrogation setting, which suits my plan: this visit, I am not going to let him "discursively wander off". I've read everything about the controversy — including journalist David Marr's book The Henson Case — and I still had many questions.

An image called Untitled 30 — chosen by Henson — was featured on the invitation. It was of a girl who became known as N, a year-old whose nipples were just budding into breasts and whose waist was still quite girl-like. As Marr writes, it was the budding Bill henson controversial girls — "rarely seen and almost never celebrated" — that initially caused such a fuss.

Henson had been photographing young nudes for years, and controversy had wafted around him, but this time it hit him with full force.

Senator Derryn Hinch, then a Melbourne radio presenter, fretted that the image of N would be "drooled over by paedophiles".

Sydney shock jocks went into overdrive. Police raided the gallery, seizing 32 images. The NSW Labor government, recovering from the sentencing of former minister Milton Orkopoulos on child-sex and drug charges, denounced him.


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