From Sharne Wolff…
It seems incredible now but it was only in 1973 that The Hon. Gough Whitlam led the first diplomatic visit to China by an Australian Prime Minister. Making Change is an exhibition that marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and celebrates the continuing ties that flowed from that initial visit. This exhibition – comprising photography, film and video – was first shown last year at the National Art Museum of China and has travelled to Australia with their support, together with that from the College of Fine Arts (COFA) at UNSW and the Australian Centre for Photography.
Making Change includes archival photographs of Whitlam’s two visits to China – the first was as Leader of the Opposition in 1971. A team of curators has considered artists who’ve been ‘change makers’ and progressive thinkers with the intention of revealing a different side to their work. Images of Whitlam’s visit are displayed alongside that from photojournalists and documentary makers Mervyn Bishop and Ricky Maynard. Both have covered many history-making events from Bishop’s photograph of the pouring of sand by Whitlam into Vincent Lingiari’s hands in the Northern Territory in 1975 (symbolising the return of traditional lands to Indigenous Australians) to Maynard’s compelling images of the Wik people from the western Cape York Peninsula. Amongst the 24 artists included are Nici Cumpston, Tracey Moffat, Jason Wing, Richard Bell, Bindi Cole, Gordon Hookey, Fiona Foley and Judy Watson.
It’s a stirring thought to note that since Whitlam’s historic 1973 visit to China every subsequent Australian Prime Minister has followed his lead.
Until October 5
Galleries UNSW, College of Fine Arts (COFA), Paddington.
Pic: Mervyn Bishop Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, NT, 1975 Colour Lambda print, 120 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist and Josef Lebovic Gallery, Sydney.