In his wonderful 'Canberra' (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2012) writer and journalist Paul Daley considered the national ambivalence towards, if not distain for the national capital and what might be done about it in this centenary year. He concluded that:
'No end of patient explanation or inclusive celebration of the centenary will destigmatise the place in a hurry.
Canberra has no real option but to get over itself—to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks'.
As he then conceded, ‘Easily said.’
In 2013 PhotoAccess is presenting a number of opportunities for people to bring their aesthetic and observational skills to look at the contemporary face of Canberra through photography. Our major project, the '100 Views of Canberra' exhibition and book, assisted by the Community Centenary Initiatives Fund, will be launched on 1 August.
Roland Henderson and Mark Mohell were thinking about present day Canberra and pondering some of the questions raised by Daley when they decided in 2012 to step out into Canberra’s suburbs in the pre-dawn hours. Theirs was not an attempt to defend Canberra to outsiders, clearly they shared Paul Daley’s view, but an exploration of the place and where it stands many years after its early planning and development. As they suggested in their 2012 exhibition proposal:
'Looking more closely at Canberra’s suburbs, their laneways, parks and public spaces reveal their development and societal changes over time. Early suburbs rose up without back fences and with clear and easy access to public space. This contrasts strongly with the suburbs constructed and planned in the later part of the century, which have dwellings built to the edge of the clearly defined property line, and no sense of community'.
'Verge' is one result of this exploration, Mohell and Henderson in the fine tradition of flâneurs making seemingly objective street based work with aesthetically attuned observation. They don’t propose definitive answers to questions in these 26 images made in near dark, people-less places. But on the cusp of day and night ‘… in Canberra’s streets we experienced quiet, soulful and inspiring moments.’
While they may not have set out to defend Canberra against its detractors, by making and showing this beautiful work Roland Henderson and Mark Mohell have contributed to the growing body of evidence that the city where we live has soul, meaning, strong community and, unfortunately, problems like other places in Australia.
PhotoAccess is delighted to present 'Verge' in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Image: Brayshaws Hut 1 (Karen Dace)
'Huts, Heritage and Homesteads' is no preachy old history lesson. Although Karen Dace and Eleanor Cotterell aimed to give voice to the some of the pioneering stories of Canberra and, as they have said, ‘… dispute the view that Canberra lacks history …’, their exhibition is designed to seduce viewers, stimulate interest and, they hope, move people to get to know about the lives of our pioneers in the building of a region that had settler life well before Canberra became the national capital.
Karen Dace and Eleanor Cotterell made many trips to familiar and out of the way places over the past year—including Tuggeranong and Belconnen, the foothills of Mount Pleasant at Duntroon and hard to access areas of the Brindabellas—to give us a privileged look at important icons of the ACT’s built heritage.
They found beautiful bush and landscape settings in the Orroral Valley, captured the isolation and magnificence of Brayshaw’s Hut in an early morning frost, produced visual evidence of age and decay at Rock Valley Homestead and made images introducing us to the evocatively titled Nil Desperandum (‘no need to despair’—optimistically named by George Green and George Hatcliff in the 1890s). The modest and the grand buildings that preceded the building of the national capital are evocatively presented together, perhaps for the first time, in 'Huts, Heritage and Homesteads'.
While they were transported by the beauty of the places they visited, Dace and Cotterell were surprised by the sparse living conditions of our early pioneers. The photographs in 'Huts, Heritage and Homesteads' demonstrate the visual grandeur of the ACT region and suggest something of the lives of the people who dwelt in some of its rarely seen and visited huts and homesteads. Many of the places shown in this exhibition have been given heritage protection status by listing on the ACT Heritage Register and by active conservation by ACT Government agencies.
Although the information to research the stories is not conveniently available in one place, a Google search will open up many possibilities, including information about how to access some of these places through programs offered by the ACT Government and local community organisations. Detailed information for places listed on the ACT Heritage Register can be found at www.environment.act.gov.au/her
PhotoAccess is pleased to present 'Huts, Heritage and Homesteads' in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY as part of the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival and Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
The project was supported with funding made available by the ACT Government under the ACT Heritage Grants Program and the Capital Insurance Brokers Grant Award from the Capital Arts Patrons' Organisation (CAPO).
Image: John Boyd Macdonald, Urambi Hills
For me living in Canberra is a privilege, not because it’s the national capital—although few of us would be here otherwise—but for a host of other reasons: like the beauty of the place, the closeness to bush, the extraordinary bird life in my garden, the diversity of cultures and cultural opportunities. 'Postcards from Canberra' suggests we see our lives in Canberra in different ways, but we all seem to have found something to celebrate in this our first members’ exhibition for 2013, Canberra’s Centenary year
Entries for our major Centenary project, '100 Views of Canberra', have now closed; we look forward to sharing a very exciting exhibition and book with you in August.
In more than 350 'Postcards from Canberra' members have ranged wide: big landscapes (John Boyd Macdonald, Helen McFadden, Paul Jurak), backstreets (Josie Alexandra, Bess Laaring), performance (Barbie Robinson, Anne Rosenzweig, Sally-Forth Heaney-Garzoli), the city at night (Brian Rope, Kate Travis), faces of Canberra people (Ulli Brunnschweiler) and not people (Kerry Baylor, Stephen Smith, Paul Livingston). There are familiar places and abstract interpretations of places. It’s a kaleidoscope—like Canberra itself, a place that’s easy to love despite its occasional bad press.
Image: Monique Butselaar, 'Splitting headache' (winner Access all areas 2012 peoples choice award)
Our major members exhibition this year is Access all areas 2013 from 23 May to 9 June. Entries close on Wednesday 15 May.
The rules are different again this year to keep you thinking creatively
You may enter enter as many works as you like but you can only occupy a maximum wall width of 130 cm. So if, for example, you want to enter two or more panoramas of 130 cm we will hang them vertically down the wall. You could present a mini exhibition of smaller works as long as they can be accommodated between the floor and the ceiling and within your maximum 130 cm wall width.
As always, we will decide how to and where to hang the works.
We will not accept framed work this year.
The entry fee is $35 for any number of works from one upwards.
We reserve the right not to hang work if it is likely to disadvantage others or if we deem it unsuitable.
We encourage members to show new work and so images should be made no earlier than January 2011.
Works may be for sale: our commission on sales is 25%.
Entries must be made and paid for online by Wednesday 15 May.
Entries may be delivered to PhotoAccess from 10 am 7 May to 4 pm 17 May
We will be hanging your work on 21 and 22 May for the opening at 6 pm on Thursday 23 May.
Unsold work may be taken on Sunday 9 June at 4 pm or within a fortnight of the closing date.
Sean Davey's 'Dog Food & Oysters' is a self-published book of images made in America some years ago. He says:
'This book is not necessarily a narrative about the US during this time, but looking at a lot of the images, I do see significant references to a country at war. Soldiers on the front page of the New York Times (p.19); pro-war supporters flying flags on a street corner in Nashville, Tennessee (p.79); soldiers departing for Germany on their way to Iraq (p.45), and tourists looking at The White House through a chain link fence during renovations to restrict public access to the area (p.85). There are undeniable signs that suggest conflict, but that certainly was not my intention in making the photographs. I was more interested in photographing for myself, to learn how to see things that did not require a written or verbal explanation'.
Sean's launch of the book on 2 May 2013 is accompanied by a showing of selected works from the 'Dog Food & Oysters' series in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY Multimedia Room. Copies of the book and images from the series will be avaiable at PhotoAccess until 19 May.
Image: Damascus t@-minus 12 days before the storm broke
The United Nations estimates that 70,000 people have lost their lives since the start of the conflict in Syria in March 2011. One million refugees have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Cities, homes and schools destroyed, streets deserted.
Josh Wodak has packed an extraordinary amount of activity into the last few years, including a visit to Syria on the eve of the mid March 2011 events which presaged the bloody, incomprehensible atrocities that are now daily fodder for the world media.
March seems to be a significant month for Wodak. His first PhotoAccess solo exhibition, 'Sense of Surroundings', in March last year followed his involvement in a number of our group exhibitions in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. We are pleased to welcome him back to the gallery with 'Semblance of Stability', an eerily beautiful series of images that suggest the disaster to come.
Wodak places the 'Semblance of Stability' work in a philosophical context in his Artist Statement:
'All photography embodies loss—whether as a sense of nostalgia or memory—as every photograph is a miniscule moment in time that only ever increases in distance from the present. Semblance of Stability draws on this lament that photography encapsulates, though it draws the focus onto the contemporary crises of Syria, and whether a life anything like that depicted in this series can be regained'.
What we see here is a mirage: there are discordant elements in these seemingly peaceful pre-war images, a sense of things off balance implied by their composition, figures moving out of frame, wistful and sometimes suspicious looks into the distance, eyes downturned, children juxtaposed with bloody carcasses. As ever Josh Wodak’s work challenges our emotions and provokes inspection. We are delighted to share 'Semblance of Stability' and its strong humanist message with visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY.
Image: Mud Stoves
Images of electrical goods are painted crudely on an earthy pink wall. Is it a lie or a statement of aspirations? Caitlin Welch calls it false advertising because there is no power in this place. Can a bare scrap of land with grazing animals really be a community kitchen? What does the intriguing philosophical assertion on the wall in the Katete District Health Office mean and how does it promote good health?
Caitlin Welch is asking us to see and think about people and places far removed from our own lived experience. Presumably far removed from her own experience before 2011, when she went to Africa:
'… the cradle of civilization, with my camera in hand. This was where my quest to be a documentarian became very real. So many crazy, beautiful, breathtaking moments just waiting to be captured and shared'.
Caitlin Welch was greatly moved by Africa. The images and short film that make up Develop, her first solo exhibition, convey a strong sense of her experience there and engage our interest and curiosity in Tikondane, a ‘… sustainable, loving community’ in the district of Katete, in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Like people the world over the people of this community work, rest and play, but they do so in ways few of us will ever experience first hand.
The images in Develop are sensitively observed and well crafted, getting to the essence of Welch’s subjects and conveying a sense of achievement and optimism in the lives of these people. The video takes a tour of the community, examines current issues in the Katete district and looks at how people are starting to become more empowered to make change and grow with the help and framework provided by Tikondane. Welch is so committed to this organisation’s good work that money made from exhibition sales will go back to Tikondane to help further build the free community school.
We are delighted to share Caitlin Welch’s Develop with visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY.
One of the commercial television channels recently presented as news a vox pop on the subject of climate change. The people interviewed were all big city residents; the hook for the story was our recent bout of record breaking hot weather and nation wide extreme, in some places catastrophic, fire conditions. History will tell that the concerns of the forecasters, who cautiously referred to climate change, were well founded and that, miraculously, few lives were lost.
Perhaps I missed the critical part of it (I hope I did) but I didn’t hear any real science on the subject. The subtext was that climate change is a hoax. One ‘well’ informed man summed it up succinctly: ‘I’m a huge sceptic!’
It’s reassuring to know ignorance is tolerated in modern Australia. We can’t all be perfectly well informed. But it’s not so reassuring that the media, most obviously radio, thinks it’s okay to present the sad views of a few just to get a story; or maybe there’s a more sinister explanation? Thank heavens for artists who take an interest in and want to speak about the cold reality confronting us and, more cruelly, future generations.
Ursula Frederick is an artist whose conviction based work draws our attention to issues many people seem happy to ignore. In 'Sleepwalker' she turns her attention to ‘… the cyclic disorder of consumption and waste …’ Unlike the Australian Social Realist artists of the 1940s and 50s, though, she is less strident, less obvious, more deeply thoughtful in her condemnation of the problems she observes. As she says in her Artist Statement, ‘Like the somnambulist oblivious to its surroundings, we are dreamily aware that something is wrong but we haven’t quite woken up to our condition’.
The images in 'Sleepwalker' are deceptive. At one level they have a strong decorative impact: carefully composed pattern and colour, some with tricky optical properties. Looked at more closely they reveal evidence of human habitation. Thought about they are pretty unsavoury—stains and other relics of people and the time spent in their beds. It’s a very intimate look. As Frederick says ‘…each and every imperfection in the mattress is a reminder of human frailties and our shortsightedness.’
It’s not too surprising to learn that Ursula Frederick has a background in archaeology, and that her current doctoral research explores such themes as value creation, the everyday, obsolescence and transformation. Thankfully she is committed to sharing her thoughts through her art and we welcome the opportunity to show her work in the challenging and intriguing 'Sleepwalker' in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY.
In his catalogue introduction for the August 1992 'Spirit Series' exhibition at Sydney’s Stills Gallery, Huw Davies touched on themes that ran through the work and, undoubtedly, his own life at that time:
'soul – essence – love – unity – enigma – alchemy – apparition – figment – thought – death – remain – flow – change – transform – sprite – siren – sage – fool – demon – god – mad
There are spirits within us all and I offer these views. The pictures are untitled so that you may name them. Please leave a comment in the book'.
His last exhibition, 'Some questions of belief', was shown at CASA (Consolidated Artists Studio Association) Gallery, Rozelle, in October 1993. It was a mix of black and white and hand coloured works that built on the Spirit Series themes but also—in a group of portraits inscribed by his subjects with statements about their beliefs—brought into play the principles, in particular respect for others, that drove Huw’s extensive community work.
Three months later Huw killed himself during a period of acute depression. He told his sisters that he feared his mind had split into a good part and an evil part, which were warring. He feared his evil mind would force him to kill his mother. He saw suicide as his only alternative
This small survey of late works by Huw Davies is one of our two first exhibitions in Canberra’s Centenary year. Huw was a significant contributor both to PhotoAccess and to documenting and developing community in Canberra during the 1980s.
From 1984 until he left for Sydney in August 1988 Huw Davies was involved in all aspects of PhotoAccess. He continued his involvement until late 1992 through projects, a PhotoAccess Kingsley Street showing of the 'Spirit Series', and as a contributor to group exhibitions and fundraising.
Huw Davies’ life took many interesting turns. 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.
With the support of his sisters Branwen and Jocelyn PhotoAccess presented 'Huw Davies: Everything under the sun' in September 2008. It was the first survey of Huw Davies’ work and life, an overdue tribute to an artist with a strong creative drive and significant influence as a teacher, organiser and visual artist. The catalogue for 'Huw Davies: Everything under the sun' can be accessed below.
This selection of works from the PhotoAccess Collection and on loan from Branwen Davies also pays tribute to Huw and illustrates the themes of love—celebrated and despaired of—spirit, self, sexuality, connection, respect, questioning and landscape, consistent threads of his work and life.
PhotoAccess is pleased to receive proposals for exhibitions in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY—Canberra's contemporary photographic gallery—at the Manuka Arts Centre.
If you are thinking of submitting a proposal you should read the Exhibitions Program Information and then contact PhotoAccess to enquire about the best time to begin discussions about your exhibition project.
Our 2013 program is now fully committed