Anna Madeleine’s Artist Statement description of the work in Uncharted is commendably understated, but misleading.
That she has employed a range of media is obvious. That she has layered elements to create images of far away places and unknown characters is incontestable. That she offers us glimpses of life in seemingly abandoned public places is perfectly reasonable. But the existential themes underpinning the work seem far too big, too questioning, too full of yearning for such a young artist.
Madeleine is immersed in the culture of her generation. She is a traveller, she is involved in music and performance, she is a designer, photographer, video artist and painter. Anna Madeleine is a searcher and innovator. She employs diverse techniques with no obvious regard for the generally accepted boundaries of artform.
Is this wide subject interest and anarchic creative behaviour something we can expect from artists in the future? Perhaps in Anna Madeleine’s case it foretells a committed, questioning and imaginative young artist destined to make a significant career in the arts.
Madeleine was chosen for a 2008 Emerging Artist Support Scheme (EASS) residency at PhotoAccess principally on the basis of video work presented in the ANU School of Art graduating exhibition in December 2007. That and other video work is included this exhibition. The main body of work is new, however, and therefore made out of a need to make art rather than a need to meet the course requirements for an academic award.
Obviously acknowledging the impact of her graduating exhibition work, Anna was also chosen for EASS awards by Canberra Contemporary Art Space, M16 and the Alliance Francaise. In 2008 she will have presented work in three solo and four group exhibitions.
So between travel and work to finance the necessities of life, Madeleine‘s year has been very full. Yet there has been time for expressing a complex personal iconography in challenging and technically virtuosic work that PhotoAccess is proud to present in the Huw Davies Gallery.
Georgina Smith’s Threads was shown in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY from 23 June to 25 July 2005. The series was donated to PhotoAccess and is now part of the PhotoAccess Collection; works from the Collection are shown in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY and our other Manuka Arts Centre rooms from time to time. We are very pleased to have an opportunity to show Threads again as part of the 2009 gallery program.
Smith’s life and work has taken a further turn since she showed with us in 2005, as she says in the Artist Statement that follows. People who know Georgina will be interested to hear her news but, like us, disappointed that she is not actively making photo based work at present.
The words that follow accompanied the HUW DAVIES GALLERY showing of Threads in 2005.
‘Georgina Smith is well known in Canberra through her work as an artist, as a PhotoAccess tutor, staff member in Photomedia at the ANU School of Art, and as owner and operator of the Criterion Café and Gallery in the historic Criterion Hotel in Braidwood.
With her family, Georgina moved to the South Coast last year. The sale of the Criterion meant the loss of an important exhibiting venue for Canberra photographers. Georgina Smith deserves warm congratulations and thanks for her work teaching and supporting the photo based arts in Canberra and the region.
PhotoAccess is delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge her contribution and show the Threads series in its entirety in Canberra for the first time.
A number of the works were included in Encapsulate, a group show with Nina Sellars, Ed Whalan and Kate Ford in the very new HUW DAVIES GALLERY at PhotoAccess fro 30 August to 28 September 2002. The entire series was shown at STILLS GALLERY, Paddington, in October and November 2003.
Threads, in Georgina Smith’s words:
... looks at the human condition in terms of our watery essence. Within the images the thread serves as a metaphor for our DNA, the umbilical chord and the thread of life; spun, measured and cut by the three sisters of fate.
DNA, the thread of life, was originally formes in pools of highly fertile liquid. Within our fleshy pods we begin our journey inside the watery womb. Then emerging from the nurturing yet constraining capsule as creatures formed of up to 70 per cent water.
The process of maturation an entropy consumes our brief, fragile lives—the human mind a vastly complex and vulnerable pilot. In this series of images this is symbolically expressed as a continual act of balance on and within the impartial medium of water. The thread is supporting, constricting, flowing, twisting, swinging, enmeshing and balancing.
The images are not manipulated, but printed as digital scans onto Epson archival watercolour paper with archival inks. To create and enhance the ideas behind the theme the images themselves were produced with the use of disposable underwater cameras, chosen for their imperfect optics, surprising distortions and subsequent graininess of the image.
We hope visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY will enjoy and be inspired by Georgina Smith’s Threads, just as many people have been touched and inspired by the artist herself over the years in which she made such an important contribution to the photo based arts in Canberra’.
After an interminably long wait the Bundanon properties and collection were accepted by the Australian Government in March 1993. Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s wish that Bundanon should become a living arts centre began to take shape. The Bundanon Trust is now a major national arts institution: its Bundanon Artists Centre hosts an important and diverse residency program for Australian and international artists; the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre at Riversdale is the focus for a full school visits program and both properties are venues for an impressive program of arts events.
In the years I was involved with Bundanon my photographs were mainly for brochures and annual reports. I took family photographs in the year we lived there but seldom took out my camera to respond to Bundanon’s landscapes, their majesty and mystery, in the way Arthur Boyd and so many others have done in paint and other art forms.
Fortunately the PhotoAccess group that visited Bundanon and Riversdale in July did take the time to respond creatively to the place. This exhibition is only one of the many good outcomes from a very enjoyable weekend away. We were lucky enough to get one of the few slots left for the year in the Education Centre designed by Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark, itself an internationally recognised work of art.
The group started at Riversdale on Friday afternoon with a low light portraiture workshop by Ed Whalan. Susan Henderson’s three beautiful portraits—including 'Tara' reproduced here—and Richard Scherer’s 'Jocelyn' (also included in the catalogue) were made at the workshop. On Saturday we visited Bundanon, including the heritage listed homestead built by Dr Kenneth McKenzie in 1886, Arthur Boyd’s studio, the Amphitheatre and the Shoalhaven River. All provided exceptional opportunities for making photographs. Ed conducted a panorama workshop on Saturday night where his outstanding 'Group portrait panorama' (reproduced in two parts here) was made. Tony Stewart, our board chair, was mysteriously absent when the panorama was photographed.
Bundanon staff helped to make our visit special and we acknowledge their generosity. Information about Bundanon and its programs is at www.bundanon.com.au.
Barbie Robinson coordinated the visit and this Huw Davies Gallery exhibition, the first coming out of a regular program of weekends away. The second weekend away will be a visit to Thredbo in March 2010.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 5 –22 November
When coincidence is met by an inquisitive, open mind the results can be miraculous. The history of photography is peppered with serendipitous moments leading to technical discoveries, or an occasional flash of inspiration that moves an artist in new creative directions.
Gene Bagdonas drifted away from pragmatic documentation into the world of Pictorialism by immersing himself in the work and innovative practices of the masters of landscape photography. There he began to see different possibilities for his own work. A significant result of that shift is 'Mist', Gene Bagdonas’ first solo exhibition.
From the mid 1880s the Pictorialists strived to create images that were more than straight photographs. Their images were carefully crafted impressions using filters or lens coatings, or heavily manipulated darkroom prints. Their dreamy interpretations of subjects paralleled the Impressionists and genre painters whose work was fashionable at the time.
Discovering historical photographic processes at the ANU School of Art introduced Bagdonas to the technical means to translate his new interests into the transcendent images shown in Mist. His introduction to and RMIT Honours work with the Ziatype, a contemporary process building on the traditional, was a further very important development influencing his work.
It was a discovery by Richard Sullivan—a photographer with a career background in information technology—little more than a decade ago that gave us the Ziatype. Begun part time by Sullivan and his wife in 1980, Bostick and Sullivan is a firm dedicated to materials for fine art photography. According to Sullivan the Ziatype was developed because he was looking for a way to control colour and contrast in palladium printing processes. The explanation he offers at bostick-sullivan.com suggests he may have experienced one or more of those serendipitous moments along the way.
Like Richard Sullivan, Gene Bagdonas has a background in information technology. Whether it’s a reaction to the clinical, logical processes involved in that industry or because of it, we can be grateful Sullivan and Bagdonis found one another. PhotoAccess and the HUW DAVIES GALLERY have not seen work like this before.
These are beautifully made images, carefully composed, full of mood and nuance. Wispy fronds and branches, bright bursts of light, solid black tree trunks. Graduated light filtering through trees or bouncing off water. All of these elements come together to make 'Mist' a memorable first solo exhibition for Gene Bagdonas, one we are delighted to share with visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY in the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 5 –22 November
Gino Zardo’s career trajectory is unusual in a number of respects. Taking an all or nothing approach the 22 year old Zardo, not content with steadily carving out a career in Australia, chose New York as his starting point. After more than a decade in the commercial world of fashion and celebrity photography he took time out for personal work on a long journey through India, Nepal and Papua New Guinea on the cusp of the new millennium. A further decade later, after his return to Australia and a new base in Canberra, Zardo is embarking on his first solo exhibition in the Huw Davies Gallery at PhotoAccess.
'Walking East' has had a number of iterations, first as the title of a successful CD and picture booklet released on the US Alluvial Recordings label in 2005. The CD and booklet were based on sound recordings and images made on Zardo’s 1999 journey. 'Walking East' now becomes the title of an exhibition of images and, further, a photographic sound portrait on DVD shown here for the first time. Zardo’s considerable personal investment in that long trek has given him plenty of scope for invention and reinvention.
Writing for The New York Times in its 8 October 2009 issue, Andy Grundberg said in his obituary for the legendary Irving Penn, who died the previous day aged 92: ‘Probably most famous for photographing fashion models and cultural figures, he seemed equally at home photographing Peruvian peasants or bunion pads’. Perhaps Penn’s creative dexterity, his moves into and out of the commercial world, and his wide ranging photographic interests will provide a template for Gino Zardo’s further career.
As Grundberg further writes, Penn’s ‘… models and portrait subjects were never seen leaping or running or turning themselves into blurs. Even the rough-and-ready members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, photographed in San Francisco in 1967, were transformed into the graphic equivalent of a Greek frieze.’ Conversely, Gino Zardo’s images have the wonderful spontaneity of the streets, roads and landscapes in which they were made. There is plenty of movement and blurring, an authentic evocation of the lives, the dust, the sweat and tears of the people and events he represents in these images. But there is also beautiful quietude and self assurance in his subjects, presented for their humanity rather than for any ethnographic intention.
We are delighted to give Gino Zardo this opportunity for his first solo exhibition. Visitors to the Huw Davies Gallery will enjoy his beautiful wall images and the colours and sounds of the 'Walking East' DVD showing in the Multimedia Room.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 15 October–1 November
In for life is the second exhibition presented as part of the PhotoAccess 25th Anniversary program. The first, HIY 2009, gave today’s PhotoAccess members an opportunity to participate in the anniversary celebration. And they did so with great enthusiasm: 60 members entered 170 works in what was our largest ever exhibition.
Like all community organisations we have lived through good times and difficult times. The place PhotoAccess occupies in the Canberra community is unique because it straddles the contradictory divide between excellence and access, as it has done consistently for 25 years. In that time the environment PhotoAccess operates in has changed dramatically and the organisation has had to change with it. Yet, somehow, we have never strayed much from the vision of the founders.
The distinguishing characteristic of PhotoAccess is the ‘access’. It is what makes us unique. As a core objective, we provide access to everyone, including the young, the aged, Indigenous groups and disadvantaged groups and individuals. What I like most is that we provide opportunities in the continuum from the individual holding his or her first camera to the emerging artist holding his or her first solo exhibition. We provide many other opportunities, but the basic idea that one can learn how to use a camera and some time later (usually after several years of development) have a solo exhibition is at the heart of our organisation. We help to build creative lives.
In 1984 when PhotoAccess began as a collective with social activist roots, Australia had been through 20 years of profound social change. But from 1984 to the present the change has been much more broadly societal and rapid or accelerating. 1984 was also roughly the year when the personal computer became widely used and mildly useful. Now we have the Internet. Our 25th Anniversary signals the early beginning of the digital age. We have had a few practice years. Cameras and software have improved to the point where they can arguably offer more than previous technologies. Film has also disappeared from common use although there are, and thankfully always will be, enthusiasts who continue to experiment with older and alternative techniques of photography.
My point is that we have just begun with digital photomedia and I suggest that its influence will permeate and modify art and society to an extent at least equivalent to the invention of photography and the later development of moving images in the 19th century. I would very much like a sneak preview of what a Chair of PhotoAccess might write on our 50th Anniversary.
Many people have been responsible for guiding PhotoAccess through the years. We have adopted a new constitution recently and this anniversary is a good time to acknowledge our life members. In for life celebrates their contribution to PhotoAccess and the important role it has in the Canberra community.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 24 September–11 October
When taking a journey by road our experience is generally of the wide view. On the road between Eden and Canberra, a road much travelled by Ruth Maddison in recent years, the geographical zones alter dramatically, from commercial fishing port, to dense forest, and into rolling dairy farms. From there up to the bleak and boulder-strewn Monaro High Plains. A dip into Cooma (gateway to the snowfields), then on to the nation’s 2-spired capital.
If travelling alone, we tend to a reflective state of mind. The windscreen-framed views take on a cinematic quality, a kind of mesmeric unfolding that can make it hard to pull over and break the rhythm. The landscape is also inevitably imbued with the emotional baggage we carry with us wherever we go: a stand of trees lit by late sun might seem merry or mocking, frost covered gullies promising or foreboding. But the wide view swiftly alters if we stop the car and step out. Immediately the scene changes. What had seemed smooth and homogenous is all bumps and tufts and roughness. The wind hits us, we smell the animals, the plants and the earth. The noise and rush of passing traffic is a confrontation.
In Ruth Maddison’s regular trips across the Monaro she stopped frequently to take photographs. She is drawn to the expansiveness of this unencumbered landscape, the way the opens up and seems to encourage something similar in ourselves.
“I drive across the Monaro and look at the sweep of the land and think about what was there and what has gone – time and time again. Stopping at small cemeteries scattered across the Monaro, passing through the dying towns, collecting bird and animal bones scattered all along the way, watching grass seeds blowing across the road. I am conscious of layers of history held beneath the surface of the land.”1
As she built up a collection of images themes emerged. As time passed these themes subtly shifted and changed. What had been a general feel for the past came into sharp focus as a reverie on mortality. Her forensic scrutiny of the carcasses that adorn the roadsides continued with the micrographia of hapless insects carried home on radiator grills, or those found, as if waiting for her, on the studio floor. In There is a time (2009) you will see flora and fauna common to Eden and Canberra that, like the artist, ‘cross the Monaro’.
Ruth Maddison’s attention helps us remember what we also may have noticed. Just as the microscope revealed a world formerly hidden to the naked eye in the 17th century, the artist can make us alert to things we do not consciously record. Having stopped her car Ruth Maddison looked death in the eye. She smelt the decay, heard the flies at work. She entered the abandoned cemeteries where the stone even crumbles, the statues tumble, and picked up pastel petals from the fabric flowers that –despite their dollar-shop foreverness – fade and scatter like the flowers they mimic.
History is writ large on this route. Small towns attest to times of brief plenty: the promise of gold, the economy of fleece. They are established at distances determined in an era when horses paced the daily work. Where rail provided a short-lived reprise. They are now towns that compete for us to “Stop Revive Survive” or to which some retire. In these empty places, Ruth Maddison finds comfort in quiet corners. She trains her camera on fine craftsmanship that has lasted the distance and the make-do that soon collapses.
“This new body of work is a departure from the people-focused documentary/portrait-based work that has informed my public practice for 30 years. This departure is the outcome of my social and professional isolation [in Eden], which I sought and have embraced. Yet I consider this work a documentary piece – I am documenting the passage of my life through a place and a time via photography and the problem solving processes it presents to me. I am documenting what it is that makes me want to go on and on with the work.” 2
One day, called to her hometown Melbourne, she collected every flower in bloom in her Eden garden. They formed an album of pressed flowers in counterpoint to the family album: a family that was about to experience loss, the album becoming more heavily laden with memory. She knew this as she walked the garden of the place she had made her home. In The day I left my garden (2009) the flowers keep their material presence on the photographer’s light box. They somehow defied representation, so they stay in this workroom place.
“Dried and pressed flowers become transparent. I thought of how I examine transparencies on a light box. Using a light box, an integral part of photographic history, strengthens the sense of presence and absence.”
Elsewhere in the exhibition, the region’s iconic Bogong moth flutters. On a soft sheer fabric commonplace3, petals write ‘dead to the world’. Ruth Maddison has taken the opportunity of this exhibition to push the boundaries of her photographic practice in content and in technique: sculpture, using fabric, etc. The digital darkroom as allowed her to extend her interest in camera-less photography as in All along the way (2009), direct scans of flattened insects, which give an extraordinary clarity of detail in the resulting glowing prints.
The movement of journeying has been captured in the video Crossing the Monaro (2009). This contemplative ‘land map’ linking Eden and Canberra across the Monaro reflects on her experience of slowly becoming a familiar with an unknown landscape.
Merryn Gates August 2009
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 5 September–20 September
Six people began work to turn a disused Kingsley Street building into a community photographic centre in September 1984. Before then PhotoAccess was a much discussed concept, but the reality of Canberra people sharing resources, skills and ideas in a place and an organisation dedicated to community involvement in photography began at that time.
In September and October 2009 we recognise the work and commitment of the many people who have contributed to PhotoAccess over the past 25 years. HIY 2009 is the first event celebrating the PhotoAccess 25th Anniversary. In for life, an exhibition of work by PhotoAccess life members, a commemorative print portfolio and a dinner on 15 October will round out the anniversary celebrations.
With more than 160 images from 57 participants, including very young members Eric Mandl and Max Pratten Helmreich, HIY 2009 has repeated the ‘bigger and better’ trend of members shows over the past few years. We are very excited to welcome so many first time artists to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY—including Gemma Walker, George Poulakis, Pat McNeil, Margaret Kalms, Angus Kendon, Katie Puttock, Marissa Bandharangi, Jenny Brown, Michael White, Erinn Blunsdon, Janet Ilchef, Ian Baird, Bernard Robertson-Dunn and Margaret Hathaway.
Just as pleasing is the presence of so many members who have shown with us consistently over the years, and Ed Whalan, Kerry Baylor, Payal Sehgal Mahajan, Tony Stewart, Suzie Edwards, Barbie Robison, Erica Hurrell, Stephen Best, Kathleen Fisher and Lyndy Delian who have all had recent solo exhibitions in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. Josh Wodak is a PhotoAccess artist in residence who will have his first solo exhibition with us in 2010.
HIY 2008 was the template for our very accessible Hang It Yourself shows. Avoiding the conventions and cost of framing and presenting work for more formal exhibitions, and confronting artists with the challenges involved in curating their own small show within a show, the HIY format looks like becoming a permanent feature of our gallery program. It has been a real pleasure to see artists in the gallery pondering the available wall spaces to ensure their work is presented to their satisfaction (or something approximating that often elusive state). Dane Donaldson took to the ceiling to make sure his Eucumbene pano. could be shown. We might have good news for panoramists next year.
The second part of the exhibition is a mass artists’ talk. We look forward to seeing all of the artists here to talk entertainingly and passionately about their work at Sunday in the Gallery on 20 September.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 12 September–19 September
PhotoAccess Multimedia Gallery
ANU Rural Medical Society. Postcards from the Territory showcases the experiences and work of medical students while on placements in remote communities in the Northern Territory. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the life, culture and landscape of Indigenous Australians living in the Northern Territory.
Most of the earliest images were portraits of the wealthy and powerful, or images celebrating their property, leisure and business interests. These through the lenses of commissioned photographers skilled in the arcane science that was early photography.
Subject choices expanded when dry plate processes freed late nineteenth century photographers— professional and amateur— to walk the streets. And so the tradition of street photography began. Photographers began to tell stories of the rich and the poor, the beautiful and the grotesque, sometimes for payment but more often in the name of truth and a visual aesthetic.
Australia has a significant street photography tradition. In the case of Sydney, also embracing its beaches. Max Dupain’s iconic Sunbaker and other beach images assert a proud, heroic vision of Australia. David Moore, whose long and influential career began in Dupain’s studio, photographed migrants and working class people, including workers involved in some of Sydney’s great building projects. Jon Lewis (a 2009 PhotoAccess artist in residence) produced playful and sometimes self-mocking images of people on Bondi beach in the mid 1980s.
Unlike the higher profile photographers, Frank Plicka is a quiet observer. After 31 years in Australia, Plicka has had only a small number of exhibitions and very little financial reward for his work. But he is a patient, honest and empathetic observer of the human condition and a skilful darkroom printer.
Andrew Gash summed Frank Plicka up in his Foreword to Streets of Sydney (Brandl & Schlesinger, Sydney, 2001):
Frank’s work is even more remarkable in that it is not the career work of a professional photographer with all the benefits that this brings, but it is the work of one who is totally committed to his craft. Frank was often working two jobs, with limited time for his photography and has never been paid to take a photo. His passion for photography is the purest of passions.
Frank Plicka is represented in the collections of the State Library of NSW and the Museum of Sydney.
We are very pleased to present Frank Plicka’s fine black and white work in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre. Gilbert Herrada’s assistance has been invaluable.
Talbet Fulthorpe’s 'Jangil (Homesick)' was first shown in the 2008 Graduating Exhibition at Photospace in the ANU School of Art. Installed in its own small room, the images shone brightly through the darkness. The work had the poignancy and gravitas personal significance and meaning can bring to art, but it was accessible and beautiful, taking us to the creeks, mangroves, lagoons and islands called up from his childhood on Queensland’s Gold Coast by the artist’s grandfather.
That earlier version of 'Jangil (Homesick)' was interactive, navigated from a games console. In a way it detracted from the seriousness of the story Fulthorpe was telling. There was a chance the technology would make people miss aspects of the story about his family’s culture, including the simple pleasure (or necessity?) of catching your own food. But its underlying theme, the exchange of natural places for the profit driven building and other excesses of modern Gold Coast life, shone through in the earlier version as it does in the version we are seeing in this HUW DAVIES GALLERY showing.
Fulthorpe accepted the invitation to show 'Jangil (Homesick)' in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY Multimedia Room as part of our 2009 exhibitions program. The version we see here is a development of the first, with the interactive elements of the first version built in. A voice track by his grandfather, Richard Ball, perfectly complemented by a soundtrack composed and performed by Skye Gallagher, work with Fulthorpe’s animations to make 'Jangil (Homesick)' an elegant, simple and evocative story about loss and profound change. As important as these messages are, Fulthorpe has chosen to tell the story in a pared back, understated way. Richard Ball speaks about catching sea mullet and black bream without bait, just jagging the fish with three pronged hooks: ‘… that’s how plentiful they were in those days …’ We know it’s not that way now.
Talbet Fulthorpe’s Jangil (Homesick) is a notable achievement in terms of technique and technology but, more importantly, a significant and telling work. PhotoAccess is very pleased to share 'Jangil (Homesick)' with a wider Canberra audience through this showing in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY.
Familiar Fable is Lauren Hewitt’s first solo exhibition, and her second exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at PhotoAccess. In February–March 2005 Hewitt and Madeleine Donovan, PhotoAccess artists in residence under the ANU School of Art’s Emerging Artists Support Scheme, presented Latent—the first exhibition shown in the redeveloped HUW DAVIES GALLERY. In my catalogue introduction I wrote:
'Lauren Hewitt had an earlier association with PhotoAccess as a diploma course student in 1998. Under the Mango Tree and Airmail, the work she presented in the ANU School of Art graduating show five years later, testified eloquently and beautifully to the success of her journey from craft to art. In Latent her interest in visually beautiful images persists, but there are also images suggesting mysterious goings on in dark gardens and other inhabited but unpeopled places. Drama laden night scenes—an unseen observer peering at light filled windows, peculiar shapes corralled by a backyard Hills hoist—contrast with atmospheric, exquisitely defined bare branches and wispy clouds threaded against many coloured skies.
Lauren Hewitt’s work is introspective, touching on the deep personal emotions most of us feel but can’t or won’t voice. The images in this exhibition evoke feelings of wistful contemplation, love of the small and the grand things in nature, and agonising loneliness'.
Familiar Fable continues Hewitt’s exploration of ordinary places suggesting real or imagined narratives. But this work moves into the streets, laneways and roads that are part of the world we share as a community. Hewitt says in her Artist Statement that she has attempted to ‘… explore the way the local landscape is represented in the imagination. Capturing locations where sometimes something has occurred, an event, or where there is a hint of a happening, and locations that harbour that potential’.
Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald of 4 July 2009, John McDonald reflected on two recent shows of new media art, including Shaun Gladwell’s Australian Pavilion work at this year’s Venice Biennale. The work received the ‘Worst in Show’ award from New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz. McDonald observed that:
'Standing in front of a work it should become pretty clear, pretty quickly, whether it captures one’s attention or not. If we are not amused or entertained, we may rightfully pronounce the piece a failure. This idea will horrify art snobs, who see boredom and obfuscation as the hallmarks of high seriousness … '
Lauren Hewitt’s work responds to places in a way that captures our attention and entertains our imagination. Her images are precisely drawn, dramatically lit by street and building lights or the last light of the day; dark areas are as meaning laden as the areas elucidated by light. The images demonstrate strong compositional skills that help organise spare visual elements into satisfying, powerful and evocative works.
Lauren Hewitt has made thoughtful, significant contributions to exhibitions at PhotoAccess over a number of years. A 2009 PhotoAccess residency assisted with the development of Familiar Fable, her first solo exhibition, in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Lyndy Delian is a remarkable artist in diverse media. A textile and glass artist, painter, writer and illustrator, she has now added photography to her creative repertoire. Lyndy is the second emerging Indigenous photographer supported by PhotoAccess with funding under the ACT component of the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy.
Lyndy’s 2009 NAIDOC Week exhibition 1200° has its roots in a Canberra Glassworks residency shared with other Indigenous artists and supported under the ACT Indigenous Strategic Arts Initiative. The exhibition includes images made in the course of the residency, showing artists at work in the exciting and pressured creative environment of the Canberra Glassworks hotshop. Through her images we share the exhilaration these artists experience in the heat of the furnace and the intricate demands of shaping molten glass. We are privileged to also show examples of Lyndy Delian’s work in glass, textile and paper prints and acrylics in this 2009 NAIDOC Week exhibition.
The diversity of Delian’s practice and the dimensions of her creative achievements are amply demonstrated by the recent exhibitions, commissions and awards listed in her biography. But not listed are the 42 exhibitions she participated in from 1999 to 2006. Lyndy is one of the busiest artists practicing in Canberra today, a tribute to her creativity and inquisitiveness, and the inspiration she draws from her culture. She is represented in the collections of the National Museum of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra Institute of Technology, and other public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Like the Canberra Glassworks, PhotoAccess is participating in the ACT Indigenous Strategic Arts Initiative, in our case with two photo based projects in cooperation with Billabong Aboriginal Development Corporation. These projects will culminate in a HUW DAVIES GALLERY exhibition next year. We acknowledge the farsightedness of the ACT Government in supporting Indigenous artists and allowing us to play a part in sharing their culture and unique perspectives with visitors to the Manuka Arts Centre.
We thank Neville O’Neill, ACT Indigenous Arts Officer, artsACT and the ACT Cultural Council for their assistance with this four-year emerging Indigenous photographer program. Ed Whalan and Barbie Robinson provided technical and creative support for this year’s project.
PhotoAccess is proud to present Lyndy Delian’s 1200°—a 2009 NAIDOC Week exhibition—in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 11 June–28 June 2009
Garema is Ian Copland’s third solo exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. Structures, shown in April 2007, was an outstanding first exhibition based on the architecture of three of Canberra’s national institutions.
Copland’s exceptional compositional skills and strong feeling for colour were also demonstrated in his second exhibition, People, shown in early 2008. Unlike Structures and Garema, People—which challenged us to consider the way we perceive people and difference—had no Canberra connection. In Garema, Copland has focused on a Canberra sacred site.
Garema Place has been more than a physical location for generations of Canberra people. Starting life as a very formal city square, it was dominated by Young’s department store and Canberra’s adventurous first cafes and restaurants. In the 1960s, before the trees were established, it was a sterile, exposed place, but also a venue for polite family outings on a Saturday morning. From the 1970s it was fertile ground for musicians and street performers, including three young smart ass guys with a guitar who appropriated the name of the then leader of the National Party and moved on to stellar careers in comedy and the media.
Copland’s Garema is Garema Place now, street photography reflecting the diversity and sheer untidiness of human activity in this lively and, at times, dangerous place. Compared to the early years the trees are fuller, the people are different and noisier, the cafes and restaurants are well established and well patronised, deals are more obvious, the birds are more aggressive, and skaters make no allowances for saunterers and immovable obstructions.
Garema is the least structured of Ian Copland’s three HUW DAVIES GALLERY exhibitions, which seems entirely appropriate considering the time and place of its making. To emphasise the diversity of activity and community, Copland has included with 40 larger prints Garema Collections 1 and 2, more than 150 randomly arranged post card sized prints giving us a comprehensive picture of this place many regard as the heart of Canberra.
Condemning the efforts of successive city managers to create Civic Square as a place for community focus and celebration, Garema Place continues as a magnet for lively activity, polite and very definitely impolite, at the centre of Canberra’s psyche. Ian Copland gives us a genuine feel for the place and its people, including significant moments and hints at some quite beautiful stories, in Garema.
PhotoAccess is delighted to show Ian Copland’s Garema in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 23 April–10 May
Artist talk Sunday 10 May at 2pm
David Bruce is relatively new to Canberra, which makes First Impressions, his first solo exhibition, unusual.
Unless they have been residents for many years, people making photographs in Canberra usually find the national capital icons irresistible. We see image after image of Parliament House, the two bridges and the lakeside institutions, Anzac Parade and its grand monuments all leading to the Australian War Memorial—possibly the most photographed building in Australia after the Sydney Opera House.
But David Bruce has gone beyond the grandeur and immediate visual pull of the Parliamentary Triangle to share with us a meditative and somewhat tranquil view of the city he now calls home.
He says of his work in First Impressions:
The idea of these images … is … not to document Canberra in any way, but rather to give impressions of it. This includes the colours and forms of both the natural and the manmade environment and, of course, some of the iconic buildings that are central to the very existence of Canberra.
These are little vignettes of Canberra, moments and places that are all small parts of the city and surrounding areas.
In the tradition of the Pictorialists, beginning in Nineteenth Century England and the United States and moving, inevitably later, to Australia through the work of Harold Cazneaux and some of his contemporaries, David Bruce is striving for something other than an objective visual record of the landscape. Even the national icons he has photographed are unrecognisable. This work, he says:
… reflects something of a new direction in my photography—away from a more literal documentary style of landscape photography towards a more impressionistic and artistic style.
PhotoAccess is pleased to provide this opportunity for David Bruce to introduce his work to Canberra in First Impressions, his first solo exhibition, in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Kathleen Fisher’s mannequins are no dummies. Without her intervention they might classify as dummies, but Fisher won’t allow her mannequins the luxury of gentle repose between gigs or the silent, sad, inevitable dismemberment and crumbling that comes with retirement.
The suggestive possibilities of mannequins—human replicas, mostly female and life size—have interested artists over many years. They appealed to the Dadaists and Surrealists, including Dali in paintings and installations and, in photography, Man Ray. Mannequins placed in fantastic settings referenced aspects of the human condition. Often with banal titles (Man Ray’s Mannequin with a moustache and wire over her head, for example) many expressed the artists’ fashionably nihilist views on art and life.
Kathleen Fisher’s images have evocative titles. There’s no shying away from the point of the image in her work, clever and witty anthropomorphic word play carrying a strong message about the use of the female image for commercial gain. As she says in the statement accompanying this exhibition (Fisher is a writer as well as a photographer; see www.tinypurplefishphotography.
You’ve probably noticed that most mannequins are female; in fact, this exhibition contains just one male, a young boy who looks like he’s in training to live in a Florida condo. In contrast, the females—whether ice-cold, overtly sexual, eerie or clownish—all exude a sense of tragedy or dissatisfaction. The result is a theme of femininity that is exaggerated and fake, perhaps reflecting the lifestyles these mannequins were originally manufactured to sell.
Mannequins interest contemporary artists worldwide. In May 2008 ABC News reported that
A mannequin perched on the toilet is vying with a cartoon cat to land the Turner Prize—the controversial British award that annually sparks a heated debate about the definition of art … Not a single painter made this year's short-list, which is dominated by filmmakers and video artists. … Cathy Wilkes displays shop mannequins squatting on the toilet and sitting with leftover bits of dried porridge at their feet.
It was the cartoon cat that took out the Turner. But, further illustrating the blurring of boundaries associated with mannequins and similar depictions of humans, The Guardian newspaper reported that ‘… the most controversial thing about this year's prize was its lack of controversy … The most that could be mustered was half-hearted tut-tutting over an exhibit featuring a naked mannequin on the toilet.’
Kathleen Fisher has made quirky and sometimes provocative contributions to group exhibitions at PhotoAccess over a number of years. We are very pleased to present the clever and rather eerie Dumb-founded, her first solo exhibition with us, in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
I wasn’t exaggerating last year when I referred to Access all areas 2008 as a blockbuster. With 93 works by 51 members it stretched the capacity of the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. I didn’t expect the new record to be eclipsed in a hurry, but here we are again!
With 120 works by 58 members, hanging Access all areas 2009 has stretched our ingenuity. Deciding to limit size was particularly prescient, although a small number of oversize works turned up and have been included in the show. As were quite a number that failed other conditions of entry. Rather than name and shame the transgressors, we encourage those members to examine their consciences to decide what penalty they should self-administer for their blatantly anarchistic behaviour.
Access all areas 2009 again represents PhotoAccess in all its diversity: new and longstanding members; board members and advisers (Bob Burne, Lauren Hewitt, Lisa Holmes, Belinda Pratten, Barbie Robinson Jocelyn Rosen, Tony Stewart, and former board member Carolyn Young); staff members; former staff members Tina Anderson and Jane Dempster; tutors—Richard Scherer in particular; volunteers (including Iain Cole, Roland Henderson, Susan Henderson, Andrée Lawrey, Alison Spence); artists in residence, and artists who have had solo shows or participated in group shows in recent years.
The continuing involvement of artists who have had solo shows is particularly pleasing: they include Kerry Baylor, Stephen Best, David Bruce, Suzie Edwards, Lauren Hewitt, Erica Hurrell, Bronwyn Jewell, Anna Madeline, Payal Sehgal Mahajan, Barbie Robinson, Susan Stayer, Tony Stewart and Ed Whalan. We are very pleased to welcome many to their first members show, including Tim Anger, Mark Burgess, Alan Charlton, Karen Coombes, Poppy de Souza, Dirk Guinan, Peter Drennan, Heidi Gill, Lisa Hansen, Virginia Hansen, Mark Hornby, Tara McCamley, Kevin Miller, Alex Moffatt, Scott Newman, Megan Olsen, Maree Philip, Katherine Purnell, Gabriel Spira and Josh Wodak. At 14, Eric Mandl is again the youngest member participating in the members show.
Last year’s People’s Choice winner, Simon Vellnagel-Dunn, took his camera to Greece to make this year’s entries. We thank Ted’s Cameras and BICA Photographics at Kingston for supporting the People’s Choice award.
Engaging and challenging work has become the standard for PhotoAccess members shows, and Access all areas 2009 continues the trend. It will be a highlight of the HUW DAVIES GALLERY program this year as we approach our 25th Anniversary in September.
It was at least 25 years ago and I can’t remember where, but seeing Paula Dawson’s 'There’s No Place Like Home', her holographic evocation of a living room in eerie shades of green, filled me with amazement and some bewilderment. When it was completed in 1980 it was the largest hologram ever made.
Holography was a very new medium for artists in the 1980s, holography itself becoming a reality only 20 years earlier. While it derives from photographic principles, a hologram—from the Greek holos meaning whole and gramma, message—records the intensity and the direction of light to produce a three dimensional image. Now we see holography everywhere in commercial applications but not so frequently in the galleries of Australia. The critical language for holography is still developing as a consequence of its recent take up by visual artists.
Kelly Gellatly from the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) wrote in 1999: ‘There’s No Place Like Home' shows us that if we look (no really look), the everyday objects around us can carry us to different times and places if we are willing to just let go.’ While a living room remains an everyday place in contemporary times, other places unimagined as recently as a decade ago are now part of everyday life for many people.
David Warren tells us something about the new everyday in www.MyWorld.com.au. His everyday includes the cyber world places inhabited by millions who ignore the physical barriers to communicating, travelling and doing business around the planet. A world of connection with strangers, richly enhanced by the ability to pretend and imagine. The titles of his works—including 'I Dreamt We Had Something To Say', 'The Gamer', 'We nd 2 tlk', 'Black Money, White Money' and 'Serial Bloggers'—reflect the up and the downside, the reality and the pretence, of this sometimes strange new world.
Not content with a successful career as a painter and photographer, Warren began his work in holography in the early 1980s. Pioneering work that has led to projects and exhibitions in Australia and overseas, and to a teaching position in Canberra that has allowed him to continue his original and insightful work.
PhotoAccess is very pleased to present www.MyWorld.com.au by David Warren in the Huw Davies Gallery at the Manuka Arts Centre. I hope visitors will be amazed and not too bewildered by these intriguing works.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 12 March–29 March 2009
Guys, Girls, Guitars is Andrew Mayo’s first solo exhibition and a small taste of a very large body of work. Over the last decade Mayo has photographed hundreds of local and international bands and musicians in live music performance. His lens traverses the stage and the audience to give us a feel for the excitement and abandon of live music.
There is energy and vitality in Andrew Mayo’s work. These are images where the viewer is part of the event, amid the excitement, fervour and heat of the performance. Mayo is not an opportunistic observer standing outside the event—he is very much part of the experience. He brings us the obligatory big moments and grand gestures of the concert, the theatre and the frenzy, but equally he gives us some very fine portraits—Daniel Johns, Patience Hodgson, Peter Garrett and Tim Rogers amongst them—of musicians working hard at their art and their livelihood.
Performers are deified by their admirers and demonised by their detractors. Very few people hold themselves up for critical appraisal the way live music performers do. The romantic idea that musicians live an idyllic life involving few hours on stage or in a recording studio ignores the very tough reality of their work—the grind, sweat and tears of finding acceptance and the genuinely hard work of performance. The musicians in Guys, Girls, Guitars are real people who have earned the right to be seen, heard and adored by their audiences in Australia and around the world.
In my view the important point of this exhibition lies in this rounding out of the story of music performance. The drama, energy and adulation associated with bands and the music they present in big stage concerts, diverse outdoor venues and pubs is given a human dimension in Mayo’s images. We see an intense but sensitive Tim Rogers in portrait and a manic, frenetic, theatrical Tim Rogers fronting You Am I. Musicians are people and Andrew Mayo’s work takes us into their world, a tough world too often misrepresented and misunderstood.
Guys, Girls, Guitars was supported by a grant from the ACT Arts Fund, support that is critical to the health and development of the arts. Many of the images are from live music performances in Canberra.
PhotoAccess is very pleased to present Guys, Girls, Guitars by Andrew Mayo, in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Jessie Boylan returned to Canberra in 2008 after several years in Melbourne. She joined us as Gallery
Program Coordinator and as a teacher in February, making a strong contribution to the work and spirit of
PhotoAccess. Unfortunately for us the pull of Jessie’s deep humanist convictions was too strong, and towards
the end of the year she left for the places and people affected by the Australian Government’s ‘Intervention’.
More recently Jessie has travelled to Israel where, through her images, she continues to bring to world
attention issues of intolerance, oppression and dissent.
While we miss her presence, AUtonomies is one benefit we have gained from Jessie Boylan’s departure. This
new work builds on the moving, very personal Inhabited exhibition—dispelling the myth that the centre of
Australia is an uninhabited and lifeless place—which showed in Melbourne and the Northern Territory from
2006 to 2008. Jessie worked with radio producer Bilbo Taylor on Inhabited, allowing Indigenous communities to
tell their stories in sound and images helping to protect their country and culture from the threatened disaster of
uranium mines and radioactive waste dumps.
AUtonomies is, likewise, intended to give voice to issues confronting Indigenous people, this time the
controversial Commonwealth ‘Intervention’, which continues to divide opinion more than 18 months after its
introduction. Emma King has been her collaborator, recording the stories of people who must be heard on the
subject if we are to understand the reality of their lives and the impact of too often remote decision making.
Jessie Boylan’s work is not typical of the documentary style of the concerned photographer. Although Jessie
and Emma are invisible players in AUtonomies, allowing only the voices and images of the people to tell their
stories, their presence is palpable. From the selection, naming and juxtaposition of images to the recorded
voices, the artists have created a platform for communicating the substance and complexity of lives many
Australians would generalise as unimportant and irrelevant—as did then Federal Minister Brendan Nelson in
2005 who said, when announcing a decision to establish a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory, ‘…
why on earth can't people in the middle of nowhere have low-level and intermediate level waste?’
Jessie Boylan’s return to PhotoAccess, albeit not in person, is very welcome. PhotoAccess is proud to present
AUtonomies, by Jessie Boylan with Emma King, in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Everyone will have a chance to show their work during the PhotoAccess 25th Anniversary celebrations, when the HUW DAVIES GALLERY will be the venue for the ultimate open access exhibition. A photomedia take on street art, HIY (Hang it Yourself) 2009 will show in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY from 1 to 20 September 2009.
There are a few rules for HIY 2009:
• the exhibition will begin on 1 September; images will be ‘hung’ by their creators over the three days 1 to 3 September, in time for the opening on Saturday 5 September. We will be open until 6.30pm on Tuesday 1 September to give members after hours time to hang their work
• white space can be claimed without curatorial, taste or other interference
• the images must be unframed and fixed with acid free mounting tabs (to be provided by PhotoAccess)
• up to five images can be ‘hung’ by each person; there is no restriction on subject matter but images should not be wider than 420 mm (overall paper size)
• creators are encouraged to participate in a mass artists talk on the last day of the exhibition, Sunday 20 September at 2.30pm, and should be available to take their work down on that day
• an entry fee of $10 per image will help us with the cost of the show and the opening and closing events
• only PhotoAccess members can participate; a concessional $20 membership fee is available to people wishing to participate but the entry form & membership application must be completed and submitted on line with payment by Monday 31 August
• images can be offered for sale; PhotoAccess takes 25% commission on sales