The Photograph and Australia

Art Life , Exhibitions Mar 23, 2015 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Rather than presenting a chronology of Australia’s photographic history, the stated aim of The Photograph and Australia is to “investigate[s] how photography invented modern Australia”. Under four themed headings there’s enough cherished icons on display to keep everyone happy while the show canvasses the development of the photographic medium through evolving techniques and many less familiar images.


Kicking off with one of Australia’s earliest daguerreotypes by professional photographer, George Goodman, this penetrating study of photography’s development begins in the mid 1800s. A number of posed portraits on carte de visite (albumen prints on card) depict women, men and children over the following decades. Natural landscapes, architecture and urban scenes of the nineteeth and twentieth centuries demonstrate new techniques in image construction and the changing face of the nation. The exhibition also provides a welcome focus on Indigenous Australians as they’ve emerged from being viewed as passive subjects into new roles as photographic historians and artists.

Alongside Max Dupain’s Sunbaker, Olive Cotton’s Only to Taste the Warmth, Carrol Jerrems’ Vale Street and Mervyn Bishop’s symbolic 1975 portrait of Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari, 120 artists are represented by more than 400 images. They include Morton Allport, Richard Daintree, Paul Foelsche, Samuel Sweet, JJ Dwyer, Charles Bayliss, Frank Hurley, Harold Cazneaux, Sue Ford, Tracey Moffatt, Simryn Gill, Robyn Stacey, Ricky Maynard, Anne Ferran, Patrick Pound and many others.

Until June 8
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Pic: Charles Bayliss Group of Aboriginal people, Chowilla Station, Lower Murray River, South Australia 1886 from the series New South Wales Royal Commission: Conservation of Water. Views of scenery on the Darling and Lower Murray during the flood of 1886, albumen photograph. Courtesy the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sharne Wolff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.