(Image from Huw Davies’ photographic history of the first months of PhotoAccess. Left to right: Sue Ferrari, Kerry Ruth, Babette Scougall, Annie Jacobs, Gerry Orkin, Huw Davies, Margaret Newton)
A brief history of PhotoAccess
PhotoAccess Community Photographic Centre was converted from a derelict building in Kingsley Street in 1984. Following an initiative by Lesley Goldacre, a lecturer in photography at the Canberra School of Art, Huw Davies, Sue Ferrari, Sef Geale, Annie Jacobs, Margaret Newton and Kerrie Ruth established PhotoAccess with support under the Commonwealth Government’s Community Employment Program. Gerry Orkin, Babette Scougall and Iain Dawson were among others instrumental in the founding of PhotoAccess.
Their aim was to make low cost photographic facilities available to the community; encourage the use of photography in areas of personal and political growth; provide a non-competitive cooperative environment where anyone could learn and practice photography; offer workshops, courses and seminars on aesthetic and technical aspects of photographic practice; support the development of community arts, and work with other community arts organisations to further common aims.
PhotoAccess has contributed to the arts and community life of Canberra for 30 years. In that time countless numbers of people have learned, talked about and shown photography in our two locations: first at the now demolished Kingsley Street, Canberra City premises and then, from 2002, in the Manuka Arts Centre.
From 1984 until he left for Sydney in late 1988 Huw Davies was involved in all aspects of PhotoAccess demolition, building and fit out work, as a member of the management collective, the editorial collective for the PhotoAccess magazine Against the Grain, as a tutor, supervisor, exhibition curator, project coordinator and artist. His involvement continued until 1992 through projects and as a contributor to exhibitions and fundraising. Huw Davies died in 1994. Although PhotoAccess was a relatively brief stop along the way, it was a measure of his contribution to its continuing philosophy that PhotoAccess named its exhibition space the HUW DAVIES GALLERY when it moved to the Manuka Arts Centre in 2002.
(Image: Huw Davies at PhotoAccess, Kingsley Street c. 1984)