Posts Tagged ‘Australian photography

20
Mar
22

Exhibition: ‘Birdlike’ by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th March – 2nd April 2022

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Birdlike' by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Birdlike by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne showing at left, Ground dweller 4, 2020-2021 (see below)
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

 

A quick text today as I am very sick with bronchitis and not feeling very well.

I have always liked Ferran’s performative creations starting with her body of work titled Box of Birds (2013) followed by Align (2015); Flying Colour (2016); Open Book (2018); White Against Red (2018); and now her most recent series, Birdlike (2020-2022)

While conceptually based (as with much contemporary photography), her bodies of work have an elemental quality to them that keeps them grounded and present even as they reference a historical past, a “felt” (pardon the pun since Ferran uses felt material) response to a present day conundrum.

The new work Birdlike “continues the artist’s practice of photographing female performers as they improvise with lengths of coloured felt … [which] allows for complex and nuanced interpretations” in response to the initial proposition, in this case Ferran’s wish “to summon the return of a small ground-dwelling bird, the Plains wanderer, Pedionomus torquatus, to a place that it vanished from long ago.”

These birds “are surprisingly distinct from any other species on the planet, they are the last family on their evolutionary line,” the only representative of family Pedionomidae and genus Pedionomus. They are threatened by agricultural practices such as cropping and grazing, and so they are at risk of habitat loss, as well as other threats such as flooding, feral predators, pesticide use and their small population size. With their ground-nesting habits, poor flying ability, and the tendency to run rather than fly from predators, the birds become easy prey for the fox. Now listed as a critically endangered species the bird makes a haunting return, a form of speculative reappearance as Ferran puts it, to a place in which it was once common – that of Wiradjuri country, near Narrandera NSW.

These beautiful, conceptual, improvised photographs are not only about the here and now, but are about present and past (a longing for a quixotic past?), about presence and absence… and about death and loss. Every thing contemporary photography is good at – that is, unpicking the threads of history and reassembling them – is here grounded “in the flatness of the landscape, the vastness of the sky and the colours of the lengths of felt the performer is manipulating.” In other words, grounded in light, colour and the red soil of the Australian landscape these re-imagined birds are captured in a fantastical performance / sublime dance (of death).

I love these photographs. They possess a sublime mystery that makes me stop and question how little the human race has learnt and how much we have lost. With species extinction, climate change and ocean pollution ongoing, this is only the beginning of the desecration of Mother Earth.

Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis (all things change, and we change with them).

But not necessarily for the better.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Sutton Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All images © the artist and Sutton Gallery. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Birdlike' by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Birdlike by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne showing at left, Ground dweller 4, 2020-2021 (see below)
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Birdlike' by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Birdlike by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne showing at left, Plains wanderer 1; and at right, Plains wanderer 3 both 2020-2021 (see below)
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Birdlike' by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Birdlike by Anne Ferran at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne showing at left, Field haunter 1, Field haunter 3, and Field haunter 2 all 2020-2021 (see below); and at right, Hiding 1 2020-2021 (see below)
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Field haunter 1' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Field haunter 1
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Field haunter 2' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Field haunter 2
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Field haunter 3' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Field haunter 3
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

 

In Birdlike I aimed to summon the return of a small ground-dwelling bird, the Plains wanderer, Pedionomus torquatus, to a place that it vanished from long ago. Once common over vast areas of southern NSW and Victoria, its existence is now threatened, and birdwatchers like me will go to great lengths to see it just once in their lives. In these photographs, made on Wiradjuri country, near Narrandera NSW, the Plains wanderer makes a form of speculative reappearance, via signs as indirect as the flatness of the landscape, the vastness of the sky and the colours of the lengths of felt the performer is manipulating.

I came to this way of working a few years ago. Its two key components are my collaboration with a performer – here it is Kirsten Packham – and her improvisations with lengths of dyed and painted felt. I choose the performer carefully, as so much depends on her sensitivity to her surroundings and her ability to transmit it through her physical body. With its inherent density, softness and weight, the felt can amplify and enhance her movements and gestures, while exerting a strong presence of its own. I never know what will emerge from these sessions, only that it will be something new, arising out of that moment, that performance and that situation.

Until now I have preferred to work in the familiar environment of a photographic studio. Decamping to the landscape introduced many small and some not-so-small considerations: the texture of the ground underfoot, the ever-changing effects of early morning or late afternoon light, whether it was hot, cold or blowing a gale at any one moment. Small trees crept into the frame and started acting like performers themselves. As the photographs began to accumulate, I thought I could see an out-of-place, almost alien quality emerging. This was unexpected, but on reflection it seems consistent with the displacements that have already happened in this place, as well as with those others that may come in the future.

~ Anne Ferran, 2022

 

Each image is available in two sizes: 65 x 50cm Ed. of 5 + 2APs and 144 x 104cm Ed. of 3 + 2APs

Performer: Kirsten Packham
Lighting: Frances Mocnik
Assistant: Brittany Hefren

This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW, and the Cad Factory, Narrandera.

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Ground dweller 1' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Ground dweller 1
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Ground dweller 2' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Ground dweller 2
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Ground dweller 3' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Ground dweller 3
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Ground dweller 4' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Ground dweller 4
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Hiding 1' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Hiding 1
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Hiding 2' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Hiding 2
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Hiding 3' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Hiding 3
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Plains wanderer 1' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Plains wanderer 1
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Plains wanderer 2' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Plains wanderer 2
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949) 'Plains wanderer 3' 2020-2021

 

Anne Ferran (Australian, b. 1949)
Plains wanderer 3
2020-2021
Pigment print on cotton rag paper
© the artist and Sutton Gallery

 

 

Sutton Gallery
254 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy 3065
Victoria, Australia
Phone: +61 3 9416 0727

Gallery hours:
Wednesday – Saturday
11am – 5pm, or by appointment

Sutton Gallery website

Anne Ferran website

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16
Jan
22

Photographs: ‘Australian cartes-de-visite, Melbourne’ 1860s-1880s

January 2022

 

Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1864-1875 (recto)

 

A. Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (recto)
c. 1864-1875
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

My friend Terence lent me his family photo album. It contains a lot of wonderful cartes-de-visite from photography salons in central Melbourne and country Victoria all in remarkably good condition. There are some unusual cards: family groups, twins in identical chequered outfits, a Latino woman, casual portraits with the sitter relaxing with their knees crossed and even an outdoor photograph of a dirty young vagabond with a chair. There is also a rare card, not strictly a cartes-de-visite, that lists when Omnibuses leave Hoddle Street (late Punt Road) and Toorak Road for St. Kilda via Chapel, Wellington, and Fitzroy Streets.

Several cartes-de-visite seem to have been taken at the same session but with different props: witness the Benson & Stevenson cards Untitled (Standing boy), Untitled (Seated woman) and Untitled (Seated woman holding book) where the background remains basically the same but the tablecloth has been inverted – probably son, mother and grandmother. Another Benson & Stevenson pairing Untitled (Seated wife and husband) and Untitled (Family group) possibly show the grandparents and their extended family.

Two cards by the Paterson Brothers, Untitled (Standing man holding a hat) and Untitled (Standing man) show the same backdrop but with a different width, height and design of column attached to the end of the colonnaded fence… perhaps to accommodate for the different height of the subjects. Were these two photographs taken in the same photographic session? Did the men know each other, were they brothers, or business partners?

A most beautiful card is that by an unknown photographer of Mr and Mrs Ritchie (1868, below). Against a plain backdrop and standing on a patterned piece of linoleum, the couple stand frontally facing the camera, her body slightly titled to the right while his lanky frame in oversized coat and lanky trousers is positioned to the left of the frame. The most striking thing about the photograph is Mrs Ritchie’s voluminous striped dress which takes up two-thirds of the pictorial frame, encroaching on Mr Ritchie’s space and obscuring his left foot. Her petite hand is nestled in the crook of his arm while his hands seem massive in comparison. He stares resolutely at the camera while she stares wistfully off camera to her right, mimicking the positioning of her body. This, as the back of the card observes, is the “likeness” of Mrs Alex Ritchie and a memory of her. Alex. Alex. Alex. What was your life like? What happiness and sadness did you endure that we remember you now, revisiting your likeness, bringing you into our consciousness, our hearts and thus into our memory – loved as you were by God & highly esteemed by all that knew her.

The more I reflect on these early photographs, the more I consider the moment that these people had their photographs taken – in those days, those several seconds that they had to remain still for the exposure – and the performance that led up to the capturing of their image. The appointment (if they had one), the entry into the gallery, the greeting, the seating, the waiting for the room to be available, the preparation of the attire, the combing of the hair, the direction by the photographer, the posing of the figure(s) and the exposure of the plate.

Some people would have been annoyed at the process, irritated at how long it took and how long they had to keep still for. I suspect others were imbued of the magic and the theatre of the photographic gallery… and that those few seconds of stillness could become like a period of extended time, like a car crash, where time slows down.** A brief abeyance of the laws of physics becomes an extension of the time of the spirit. The “presence” of the man in A. Archibald McDonald’s cartes-de-visite (c. 1864-1875, above) is a case in point: the low depth of field; the casual placement of hands on thigh and back of chair; the high-buttoned coat, chequered shirt, and top pocket handkerchief; the magnificent beard and the coiffed hair; but above all that penetrating gaze, as though he is staring off into the space of immortality.

Everything in balance, in focus, in stillness.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

** What I am encouraging you to think about here is that the time freeze of the photograph, the snap of the shutter, can be defeated in the physicality of the image, and in the space of the exposure – by a distortion of the witness’s felt temporality.

I am using Paul Virilio’s observation:

“‘No’, Rodin replies. ‘It is art that tells the truth and photography that lies. For in reality time does not stand still, and the artist who manages to give the impression that a gesture is being executed over several seconds, their work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image in which time is abruptly suspended …’ The sharing of duration (between art and witness) is automatically defeated by the innovation of photographic instantaneity, for if the instantaneous image pretends to scientific accuracy in its details, the snap-shot’s image freeze or rather image-time-freeze invariably distorts the witness’s felt temporality …”

Paul Virilio. The Vision Machine (trans. Julie Rose). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, p. 2.

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1864-1875 (verso)

 

A. Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (verso)
c. 1864-1875
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873)

Archibald McDonald was a professional photographer, son of Hugh McDonald and Grace née McDougal, was born in Nova Scotia where his father was a planter. He came to Melbourne in about 1847 and was in partnership with Townsend Duryea by 1852. Their daguerreotype portraits and views in the 1854 Melbourne Exhibition were awarded a medal (which McDonald was still citing in advertisements in 1866). At the end of 1854 Duryea and McDonald were in Tasmania announcing that they would open a daguerreotype studio on 11 December at 46 Liverpool Street, Hobart Town. Still enough of a novelty to require promotion and explanation, their daguerreotypes were labelled ‘Curiosities as works of art – puzzles to the uninitiated – studies for the contemplative – pleasing reflections – historical records – pocket editions of the works of nature which “he who runs may read”‘. The partners had gone their separate ways by the following July when ‘Macdonald & Co., late Duryea & Macdonald’ began to advertise from Brisbane Street, Launceston. Archibald visited Launceston in July and again in November, in the interim making short tours to Deloraine (August), Longford (September) and Campbell Town (October).

Afterwards he continued the Melbourne firm of Duryea & McDonald possibly with Sanford Duryea , Townsend having relocated to Adelaide. By 1855 Thomas Adams Hill was the other half of the partnership at 3 Bourke Street, East Melbourne, but Hill soon left the studio to set up on his own. The young Charles Nettleton had joined the firm in 1854 and, according to Cato, then took over the outdoor work while McDonald concentrated on studio portraiture. The business flourished and by 1858 Duryea & McDonald had two Melbourne studios. McDonald set up a studio in his sole name in 1860 at 25 Bourke Street. In 1861 a case of his daguerreotype portraits in the Victorian Exhibition was awarded a first-class certificate and his photograph of the Albion Hotel received an honourable mention in the supplementary awards. Both his untouched and ‘Mezzotinto’ portrait photographs gained honourable mentions at the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition.

Having moved to St George’s Hall at 71 Bourke Street by 1864 McDonald was advertising extensive additions, including a new gallery, in 1866. His studio, he predictably claimed, was now ‘second to none in Europe or America and far surpassing anything in the Colonies’. The fire of March 1872 that destroyed the Theatre Royal, located directly behind his studio, also damaged his premises, but they were soon repaired and McDonald was at this address when he died the following year. His death was reported in the Illustrated Australian News on 4 December 1873…

Staff Writer. “Archibald McDonald,” on the Design & Art Australia Online website Jan 1, 1992 updated Oct 19, 2011 [Online] Cited 04/11/2021.

 

Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1864-1875 (recto)

 

B. Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (recto)
c. 1864-1875
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1864-1875 (verso)

 

B. Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (verso)
c. 1864-1875
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of a child)' c. 1867-1882 (recto)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of a child) (recto)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

This could be the sister of the twin boys below. Notice the same backdrop and the same table and cover to the right. In this image a chair has been used as a prop while in the image of the twins it has been removed.

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of a child)' c. 1867-1882 (verso)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of a child) (verso)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)

One of the pioneers of early photography in the 19th century along with his stepfather Thomas Bock, Alfred Bock also pursued a number of other interests including botany, painting and engraving. Mostly a resident of Tasmania, Bock also spent time in Victoria and New Zealand. …

With Thomas, Alfred had practiced photography commercially from its beginning in the daguerreotype form and he was concerned in every stage of development of the technique in Australia, undertaking innovative work in connection with the wet-plate process. Davies states that Bock introduced the carte-de-visite to Hobart Town in 1861, its first appearance anywhere in Tasmania. In 1864 he himself claimed to be the only person in the colony using the genuine sennotype process, a technique that gave a rich three-dimensional effect to portraits by overlaying a waxed albumen print on a normal photograph. The claim led to a lengthy controversy with Henry Frith, aired in the press from April to July. In the Mercury of 3 September 1864 Bock advertised that he had ‘succeeded, after a great number of experiments, in producing ALBUM PORTRAITS, by a modification of the SENNOTYPE PROCESS, retaining all the relief, delicacy, and lifelike beauty of the larger pictures’. He became most expert at the process and introduced a variation for cartes-de-visite in 1864. He continued to advertise sennotypes and ‘every description of Photograph from Locket to Life-size, executed in the most perfect manner’ until he left Hobart Town. His repertoire also included oil portraits painted over solar-enlarged photographs. His painted photographs of J. Boyd , civil commandant at Port Arthur, and ‘the late Captain Spring’ were commended in the Mercury of 14 July 1866. …

In 1867 Bock moved to Victoria and settled at Sale where he again conducted a photography business, producing not only the popular cartes-de-visite from his studio in Foster Street but also enlarging hand-coloured photographic portraits of Gippsland notables. At the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, Sale Borough Council was exhibiting two Alfred Bock watercolours, Redbank, River Avon, North Gippsland and On the Albert River, South Gippsland , possibly painted earlier. Bock himself showed his work at various exhibitions – the London International Exhibition (1873), the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition (1876), the Sandhurst (Bendigo) Industrial Exhibition (1879), the Adelaide International Exhibition (1887) and the Paris International Exhibition (1889) – and gained several awards.

In 1882 Bock advertised the sale ‘of the whole of his portrait and landscape negatives as well as those by the late Mr Jones and others, to Mr F. Cornell of Foster Street, Sale’ and went to Auckland, New Zealand. The family was back in Melbourne by 1887 where they remained until about 1906. Then Alfred retired from business and settled near Wynyard, Tasmania. He died there on 19 February 1920, survived by his second wife and a number of his children.

Plomley, N. J. B. and Kerr, Joan. “Alfred Bock,” on the Design & Art Australia Online website 1992 updated 2012 [Online] Cited 04/11/2021.

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of twins)' c. 1867-1882 (recto)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of twins) (recto)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of twins)' c. 1867-1882 (verso)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of twins) (verso)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1867-1882 (recto)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (recto)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' c. 1867-1882 (verso)

 

Alfred Bock (Australian, 1835-1920)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (verso)
c. 1867-1882
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Not dated, but photographers’ flourish dates for Elizabeth St. address: 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing boy)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Standing boy)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Notice the same floral basket on the table as in the photograph of the seated woman below: same background, inverted covering to the table, perhaps mother and son.

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated woman)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Seated woman)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated woman holding book)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Seated woman holding book)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Again, the same background, table covering and floral basket as the seated woman in the photograph above: this could be the grandmother.

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Notice the same painted background with the column as the image of the seated woman above, but with different props: one a covered table, the other a colonnade

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Mrs E. Thornton' c. 1872-1880 (recto)

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Mrs E. Thornton (recto)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Mrs E. Thornton' c. 1872-1880 (verso)

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Mrs E. Thornton (verso)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Seated man)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated wife and husband)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Seated wife and husband)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

This could be the grandparents of the family in the cartes-de-visite below.

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian) 'Untitled (Family group)' c. 1872-1880

 

Benson & Stevenson (Australian)
Untitled (Family group)
c. 1872-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

John Botterill (Australian born England, 1817-1881) 'Untitled (Standing man)' 1872-1874 (recto)

 

John Botterill (Australian born England, 1817-1881)
Untitled (Standing man) (recto)
1872-1874
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

John Botterill (Australian born England, 1817-1881) 'Untitled (Standing man)' 1872-1874 (verso)

 

John Botterill (Australian born England, 1817-1881)
Untitled (Standing man) (verso)
1872-1874
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

John Botterill (Australian born England, 1817-1881)

John Botterill, miniaturist, portrait painter and professional photographer, was born in Britain, son of John Botterill and Mary, née Barker. John junior was working in Melbourne from the early 1850s, advertising in the Argus of 12 April 1853 as a portrait, miniature and animal painter and offering lessons in landscape, fruit and flower painting in oil, watercolour, ‘crayon’ or pencil. …

Botterill appeared in Melbourne directories from 1862 to 1866 as an artist of Caroline Street, South Yarra. Between 1861 and 1865 he was also working at P.M. Batchelder ‘s Photographic Portrait Rooms in Collins Street East, Melbourne, ‘engaged … to paint miniatures and portraits in oil, watercolour or mezzotint – these deserve what they are receiving, a wide reputation’, stated the Argus on 22 November 1865. In 1866 he became one of the proprietors of Batchelder’s with F.A. Dunn and J.N. Wilson, but the partnership lasted only until the end of the following year. For the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Melbourne in November 1867 Botterill painted a 4 × 5 foot (121 × 152cm) transparency to decorate Batchelder’s. The Argus described this in detail, noting that it represented four of England’s chief naval heroes (Drake, Blake, Nelson and Collingwood) as well as Prince Alfred, an Elizabethan galleon and the Galatea , with the motto ‘England’s naval heroes and her hope’. Two coloured photographs by Botterill, Portrait of Sir J.H.T. Manners-Sutton and Portrait of Lady Manners-Sutton, were lent by the Governor Manners-Sutton to both the Melbourne Public Library and Ballarat Mechanics Institute exhibitions in 1869. From 1870 to 1879 Botterill operated his own Melbourne photographic studio: at 19 Collins Street East in 1872-74 and at 12 Beehive Chambers, Elizabeth Street in 1875-79. He died on 25 July 1881 and was buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.

Staff Writer. “John Botterill,” on the Design & Art Australia Online website Jan 1, 1992 updated October 19, 2011 [Online] Cited 04/11/2021.

 

A. W. Burman (Australian, 1851-1915) (active 1869-1889, photographer) 'Untitled (shirtless man with arms folded)' 1878-1888 (recto)

 

Arthur William Burman (Australian, 1851-1915) (active 1869-1889, photographer)
Untitled (shirtless man with arms folded) (recto)
1878-1888
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

A. W. Burman (Australian, 1851-1915) (active 1869-1889, photographer) 'Untitled (shirtless man with arms folded)' 1878-1888 (verso)

 

Arthur William Burman (Australian, 1851-1915) (active 1869-1889, photographer)
Untitled (shirtless man with arms folded) (verso)
1878-1888
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Undated but photographer’s flourish dates for this address: 1878-1888

Arthur William Burman was one of the nine children of photographer William Insull Burman (1814-1890), who came to Victoria in 1853. Burman senior worked as a painter and decorator before establishing his own photography business in Carlton around 1863. Arthur and his older brother, Frederick, worked in the family business which, by 1869, operated a number of studios around Melbourne. Arthur is listed as operating businesses under his own name from addresses in East Melbourne, Carlton, Windsor, Fitzroy and Richmond between 1878 and his death in 1890.

 

F. C. Burman & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' Nd (recto)

 

F. C. Burman & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
Nd
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

F. C. Burman & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' Nd (verso)

 

F. C. Burman & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
Nd
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1873 - c. 1890 (recto)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Standing man) (recto)
c. 1873 – c. 1890 at Foster Street, Sale, Gippsland, Vic.
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1873 - c. 1890 (verso)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Standing man) (verso)
c. 1873 – c. 1890 at Foster Street, Sale, Gippsland, Vic.
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Frederick Cornell arrived in Melbourne in 1854 from England aged 21. He was joined in Melbourne by his brothers, and they ran a number of shops there. By 1865 Cornell was taking and exhibiting photographs, and in 1867 relocated to Sale. He was then variously at Bairnsdale and Beechworth until he finally settled at Sale in 1875. He travelled throughout Gippsland at various times, and set up temporary studios. Frederick Cornell died at Sale in June 1890.

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1873 - c. 1890 (recto)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
c. 1873 – c. 1890 Foster Street, Sale, Gippsland, Vic.
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1873 - c. 1890 (verso)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
c. 1873 – c. 1890 Foster Street, Sale, Gippsland, Vic.
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' Nd (recto)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (recto)
Nd
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) 'Untitled (Portrait of a man)' Nd (verso)

 

Frederick K. Cornell (Australian born England, c. 1833-1890) (active 1865-1890)
Untitled (Portrait of a man) (verso)
Nd
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1862 - 1870 (recto)

 

William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882)
Untitled (Standing man) (recto)
c. 1862 – 1870
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1862 - 1870 (verso)

 

William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882)
Untitled (Standing man) (verso)
c. 1862 – 1870
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

William Davies (Australian born England)

English photographer William Davies had arrived in Melbourne by 1855. He is said to have worked with his friend Walter Woodbury and for the local outpost of the New York firm Meade Brothers before establishing his own business in 1858. By the middle of 1862, ‘Davies & Co’ had rooms at 91 and 94 Bourke Street, from where patrons could procure ‘CARTE de VISITE and ALBUM PORTRAITS, in superior style’. Like several of his contemporaries and competitors, Davies appears to have made the most of his location ‘opposite the Theatre Royal’, subjects of Davies & Co cartes de visite including leading actors such as Barry Sullivan and Gustavus Vaughan Brooke, and comedian Harry Rickards. Examples of the firm’s work – portraits and views – were included in the 1861 Victorian Exhibition and the London International Exhibition of 1862; and at the 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition the firm exhibited ‘Portraits, Plain and Coloured, in Oils and Water Colours’ alongside a selection of views for which they received an honourable mention.

Sandie Barrie’s book Australians under the Camera refers the user to an entry for Davies, William & Co. who operated as a photographer between 1855 and 1882 and then in April 1893 as a travelling photographer.

 

William Davies was a professional photographer who established a number of studios in Melbourne between the 1858 and 1882. Davies was probably born in Manchester, UK and arrived in Melbourne around 1855. He began his photographic career in Australia in the employ of his friend, Walter Woodbury (inventor of the Woodburytype) and the Meade Brothers. Davies purchased the Meades’ business in 1858 and opened his own studio, William Davies and Co at 98 Bourke St, specialising in albumen photography of individuals and local premises. This address was opposite the Theatre Royal, and Davies took advantage of the proximity by selling cartes de visite of famous actors, actresses and opera singers. In 1861, Davies’s firm showed a number of portraits and images of Melbourne and Fitzroy buildings, often with the proprietors standing outside, at the Victorian Exhibition, and then at the 1862 London International Exhibition, where they received honourable mention. Along with actresses and buildings, the company also specialised in carte de visite portraits of Protestant clergymen posed in the act of writing their sermons. From 1862 to 1870 the firm was located at 94A Bourke St, where they shared the premises with the photographers Cox and Luckin.

Text from the Art Gallery of New South Wales website [Online] Cited 05/11/2021

 

St. George's Hall Photographic Co. / William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1862 - 1870 (recto)

 

St. George’s Hall Photographic Co.,
William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
c. 1862 – 1870
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

St. George's Hall Photographic Co. / William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1862 - 1870 (verso)

 

St. George’s Hall Photographic Co.,
William Davies & Co (Australian born England) (active Australia, 1855-1882)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
c. 1862 – 1870
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Ezra Goulter (Australian born England, 1825-1899) Untitled (Standing woman) c. 1876 - c. 1893 (recto)

 

Ezra Goulter (Australian born England, 1825-1899)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
c. 1876 – c. 1893
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Ezra Goulter (1825-1899) was born in England and arrived in Australia with his new wife Sarah in 1860. He had previously visited Australia in 1849. Goulter was a professional photographer who worked in various studios around Melbourne. From 1863-1871 he worked in Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne), then he had a brief period at 57 Collins Street East from 1866-1867, and from 1876-1893 he was based on Chapel Street in Prahran. He focused on portraiture and produced cartes-de-visite in both black-and-white and hand-coloured formats. He exhibited his portraits at the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition where he received an honourable mention.

Text from the Monash Gallery of Art website

 

Ezra Goulter (Australian born England, 1825-1899) Untitled (Standing woman) c. 1876 - c. 1893 (verso)

 

Ezra Goulter (Australian born England, 1825-1899)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
c. 1876 – c. 1893
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) Untitled (Vignette of a man) c. 1866-1880 (recto)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Vignette of a man) (recto)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) Untitled (Vignette of a man) c. 1866-1880 (verso)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Vignette of a man) (verso)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Charles Hewitt was a professional photographer, was a foundation member of the Council of the Photographic Society of Victoria formed at Melbourne in 1860. Ran his own studios in various Melbourne locations until 1899 when he moved to Stawell, Victoria.

Not dated but a Hewitt worked at 95 Swanston Street, Melbourne between 1866-1880. Ref.: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) Untitled (Oval of a man) c. 1866-1880 (recto)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Oval of a man) (recto)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) 'Untitled (Oval of a man)' c. 1866-1880 (verso)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Oval of a man) (verso)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) 'Untitled (Oval of a woman)' c. 1866-1880 (recto)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Oval of a woman) (recto)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 - c. 1899) 'Untitled (Oval of a woman)' c. 1866-1880 (verso)

 

Charles Hewitt (Australian, 1837-1912) (active c. 1860 – c. 1899)
Untitled (Oval of a woman) (verso)
c. 1866-1880
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

E. E. Hibling (photographer active c. 1873 - c. 1877) Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905) 'Untitled (family group)' c. 1873 - c. 1877 (recto)

 

E. E. Hibling (photographer active c. 1873 – c. 1877)
Johnstone O’Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905)
Untitled (family group) (recto)
c. 1873 – c. 1877
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

E. E. Hibling (photographer active c. 1873 - c. 1877) Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905) 'Untitled (family group)' c. 1873 - c. 1877 (verso)

 

E. E. Hibling (photographer active c. 1873 – c. 1877)
Johnstone O’Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905)
Untitled (family group) (verso)
c. 1873 – c. 1877
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Not dated but a Hibling worked at 7 Collins Street East, Melbourne between between 1873-1877. Ref.: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002.

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co was founded in Melbourne in 1864 by Henry James Johnstone and a photographer known as ‘Miss O’Shaughnessy’, who had previously been in partnership with her mother in their own photographic business in Carlton. The firm exhibited photographs at the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1866, where the ‘special excellence’ of their work was noted by the judges. By the mid-1880s, when the firm moved from their Bourke Street address to purpose-built premises in the section of Collins Street known as ‘the Block’, Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. were arguably Melbourne’s leading portrait photographers, their services sought by governors, visiting royalty, politicians and other prominent members of society. Examples of Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co.’s portraits were included in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1875 and the 1888 Melbourne International Exhibition. They expanded to Sydney during the 1880s, but the firm’s fortunes declined during the economic downturn of the following decade.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website updated 2018 [Online] Cited 08/11/2021

 

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co was a leading photographic studio located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It was active from 1865 to 1905.

Henry James Johnstone was born in Birmingham, England, in 1835 and studied art under a number of private teachers and at the Birmingham School of Design before joining his father’s photographic firm. He arrived in Melbourne in 1853 aged 18 and became Melbourne’s leading portrait photographer during the 1870s and 1880s. In 1862 he bought out the Duryea and MacDonald Studio and started work as Johnstone and Co. In 1865 the firm became Johnstone, O’Shannessy and Co. with partner Emily O’Shannessy and co-owner George Hasler.

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. were Melbourne’s leading portrait photographers whose services were sought by governors, visiting royalty, politicians and other prominent members of society. Johnstone impressed the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to Victoria and was appointed to his staff as Royal Photographer. Examples of Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co.’s photographic portraits were included in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1875 and the 1888 Melbourne International Exhibition where the excellence of their work was noted by the judges.

In 1876 Johnstone left Melbourne for South Australia and then travelled extensively in America, and then in 1880 to London, where he regularly exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy until 1900. He died in London in 1907 aged 72. The firm continued without him and expanded to Sydney during the 1880s and occupied a variety of buildings in Melbourne until the 1890s, but the firm’s fortunes declined during the economic downturn of the following decade. George Hasler, who created a printing process called Neogravure, ran the company till his death in 1897, after which his son-in-law, Rupert De Clare Wilks, took over the company from 1897 until 1905 when he put it into liquidation.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' 1865-1886 (recto)

 

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
1865-1886
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Not dated but Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. worked from 3 Bourke St. East, Melbourne, 1865-1886. Ref.: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002.

 

Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' 1865-1886 (verso)

 

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co (active 1865-1905)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
1865-1886
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1867 - late 1880s (recto)

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902)
Untitled (Seated man) (recto)
c. 1867 – late 1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

This could be the same man as in the photograph by A. Archibald McDonald (Australian born Canada, c. 1831-1873) Untitled (Portrait of a man) at the top of the posting. Very similar hair, beard, eyes, countenance and gaze.

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1867 - late 1880s (verso)

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902)
Untitled (Seated man) (verso)
c. 1867 – late 1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

When this portrait was taken, Nettleton’s business address was No. 1, Madeline St. North Melbourne where he remained from 1863 until the late 1880s, although he had three other studios in Melbourne, including an office in the Victoria Arcade, Bourke St (Kerr 1992: 568). This photograph has to be after 1867

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902)

Charles Nettleton (1826-1902), photographer, was born in north England, son of George Nettleton. He arrived in Victoria in 1854 accompanied by his wife Emma, née Miles. In Melbourne he joined the studio of T. Duryea and Alexander McDonald and specialised in outdoor work. He carried his dark tent and equipment with him everywhere, a necessity in the days of the collodion process when plates had to be developed immediately after exposure. He became special photographer for the government and the Melbourne Corporation and is credited with having photographed the first Australian steam train when the private Melbourne-Sandridge (Port Melbourne) line was opened on 12 September 1854.

Nettleton systematically recorded Melbourne’s growth from a small town to a metropolis. Every major public work was photographed including the water and sewerage system, bridges and viaducts, roads, wharves, diversion of the River Yarra and construction of the Botanical Gardens. His public buildings include the Town Hall, Houses of Parliament, Treasury, Royal Mint, Law Courts and Post Office and he also photographed theatres, churches, schools, banks, hospitals and markets. His collection of ships includes photographs of the Cutty Sark, and the Shenandoah. He photographed the troops sent to the Maori war in 1860, the artillery camp at Sunbury in 1866 as well as contingents for the Sudan campaign and the Boxer rising. The sharp delineation of his pictures taken at six seconds exposure was a credit to his skill.

Nettleton visited the goldfields and country towns, photographed forests and fern glades, and rushed to disaster areas. In 1861 he boarded the Great Britain to take pictures of the first English cricket team to come to Australia. During the Victorian visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867 he was appointed official photographer. He was police photographer for over twenty-five years and his portrait of Ned Kelly, of which one print is still extant, is claimed to be the only genuine photograph of the outlaw. Nettleton had opened his own studio in 1858. His souvenir albums were the first of the type to be offered to the public. However, when the dry-plate came into general use in 1885 he knew that the new process offered opportunities that were beyond his scope. Five years later his studio was closed. His work had won recognition abroad. His first success was at the London Exhibition of 1862 and in 1867 he was honoured in Paris. He was not a great artist but a master technician.

Nettleton was an active member of the Collingwood Lodge of Freemasons and a match-winning player of the West Melbourne Bowling Club. Aged 76 he died on 4 January 1902, survived by his wife, seven daughters and three sons.

Jean Gittins, “Nettleton, Charles (1826-1902),” on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy (Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974), accessed online 9 November 2021.

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1860 - late 1880s (recto)

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902)
Untitled (Standing man) (recto)
c. 1867 – late 1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1860 - late 1880s (verso)

 

Charles Nettleton (Australian born England, 1826-1902)
Untitled (Standing man) (verso)
c. 1867 – late 1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Two brothers)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (two brothers)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Notice what looks like a photo album of cartes-de-visite on the table at left probably open at a photographic of their mother and father

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Seated woman clasping hands)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Seated woman with clasped hands)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Seated woman)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Seated woman)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Young vagabond standing outdoors)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Young vagabond standing outdoors)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Young vagabond standing outdoors)' 1860s-1880s (detail)

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Young vagabond standing outdoors) (detail)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Seated woman)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Seated woman)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man holding hat)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man holding hat)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man leaning on a pillar)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man leaning on a pillar)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Mr and Mrs Ritchie)' 1868 (recto)

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Mr and Mrs Ritchie) (recto)
1868
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Mr and Mrs Ritchie)' 1868 (verso)

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Mr and Mrs Ritchie) (verso)
1868
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

“The likeness of Mrs Alex Ritchie.

In memory of Mrs Ritchie who died on Friday January 10th 1868. She was a child of God, loved by God & highly esteemed by all that knew her.

Her end was peace.

Sykes”

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man with blue sash)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man with blue sash)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Standing man in boots and spurs)' 1860s-1880s

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man in boots and spurs)
1860s-1880s
Albumen silver print with hand colouring
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

'Omnibuses timetable cartes-de-visite, Melbourne' February 1873 (recto)

 

'Omnibuses timetable cartes-de-visite, Melbourne' February 1873 (verso)

 

Omnibuses timetable, Melbourne
February 1873 (recto and verso)
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing man holding a hat) c.1866 - c.1869

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing man holding a hat)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

William Paterson was a professional photographer. He worked in Melbourne in partnership with his brother Archibald. At the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, both of them were awarded an honourable mention for their ‘Untouched and Coloured Portraits and Photographic Views’.

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing man holding a hat) c.1866 - c.1869 (detail)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing man holding a hat) (detail)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c.1866 - c.1869

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing man)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c.1866 - c.1869 (detail)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing man) (detail)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing boy)' c.1866 - c.1869 (recto)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing boy) (recto)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Standing boy)' c.1866 - c.1869 (verso)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Standing boy) (verso)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Vignette of a man)' c.1866 - c.1869 (recto)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Vignette of a man) (recto)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) 'Untitled (Vignette of a man)' c.1866 - c.1869 (verso)

 

Paterson Brothers (William and Archibald Paterson) (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1893)
Untitled (Vignette of a man) (verso)
c. 1866 – c. 1869 at 8 Bourke Street East, Melbourne, Vic
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1872 (recto)

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Seated man) (recto)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Undated, flourish dates for photographer at Chapel Street, South Yarra: circa 1872.

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1872 (verso)

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Seated man) (verso)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1872 (recto)

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man) (recto)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing man)' c. 1872 (verso)

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing man) (verso)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1872 (recto)

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1872 (verso)

 

 

C. Rudd & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
c. 1872
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

William H. Bardwell (Australian, 1836-1929) 'Untitled (Seated man)' c. 1880-1888 (recto)

 

William H. Bardwell (Australian, 1836-1929)
Untitled (Seated man)
c. 1880-1888
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

William Bardwell was a professional photographer and regular exhibitor who spent most of his working life in Ballarat, Victoria. Bardwell’s studio operated between 1875-1891. Flourish dates for Bardwell at 21 Collins Street East, Melbourne: 1880-1888.

According to Davies & Stanbury (The Mechanical Eye In Australia: Photography 1841-1900. Oxford University Press, 1985), Bardwell was active at his 21 Collins Street address – his first Melbourne studio – only from 1880, but the Design & Art Australia Online website suggests he had already relocated to Melbourne by the end of 1878.

 

Solomon & Bardwell (Australian, active c. 1859-1866? 1874?) 'Untitled (Mrs John Keys)' c. 1866 (recto)

 

Solomon & Bardwell (Australian, active c. 1859-1866? 1874?)
Untitled (Mrs John Keys) (recto)
c. 1866
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Saul Solomon (Australian born England, 1836-1929)

Saul Solomon (1836-1929) had a studio in Main Road, Ballarat from 1857 to 1862, and worked in partnership with William Bardwell at 29 Sturt Street, Ballarat until 1874. Solomon and Bardwell also operated in Maryborough and Dunolly. From 1874 to 1891 Solomon operated under the name of the Adelaide School of Photography at 51 Rundle Street, Adelaide.

Saul Solomon was born on 15 January 1836 in Knightbridge, London. He was the son of well known dealer in photographic equipment, Joseph Solomon. He migrated to Victoria in 1852. He was in Ballarat in 1854 and in 1857 he set up a professional photography studio. In 1859 he was joined by William H. Bardwell (active, c.1858 – c.1889). He married Martha Patti at Balalrat on 13 October 1866. Two years later they moved to Adelaide.

 

William Bardwell (Australian, active c. 1858 – c. 1889)

Bardwell was a professional photographer and regular exhibitor who spent most of his working life in Ballarat, Vic.

He was a professional photographer, was employed in 1858 by Saul Solomon at Ballarat, Victoria providing photographs of the town which were lithographed by Francois Cogne (q.v.) for The Ballarat Album (1859). Solomon and Bardwell were soon partners; they worked in Main Street from 1859, in Sturt Street from 1865 and visited Maryborough and Dunolly (Victoria) in 1865. Together they exhibited photographic portraits at the 1862 Geelong Industrial Exhibition and the 1863 Ballarat Mechanics Institute Exhibition. Their ‘new sennotype process’ was judged ‘highly successful’ by the Illustrated Melbourne Post of 27 December 1862. On 9 February 1863, the Argus reported that Bardwell had photographed the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Burke and Wills memorial in Sturt Street from a vantage point on the roof of the Ballarat Post Office. By 28 September 1866 the partnership seems to have been dissolved for Bardwell was then advertising his Royal Photographic Studio in the Clunes Gazette: ‘The studio is every way replete with suitable accommodation for the preparation of toilet and rooms are provided for both ladies and gentlemen. Mr Bardwell’s long and practical example will entitle him to the claim to the first position in Ballarat as a photographer.’ He exhibited views and portraits, including Portrait of the Very Rev. Dean Hayes, at the 1869 Ballarat Institute Exhibition and showed photographs of Ballarat at the 1870 Sydney Intercolonial (for sale at £6). Other exhibited photographs included ‘a large panorama of the city of Ballarat, in a semi-circular form’, …

Text from the Trove website [Online] Cited 12/11/2021

 

William Bardwell was a professional photographer with a successful business in Ballarat and Melbourne. In Ballarat he formed a partnership with Saul Solomon in 1859 and together they exhibited photographic portraits at the 1862 Geelong Industrial Exhibition and the 1863 Ballarat Mechanics Institute Exhibition. It seems Bardwell was fond of using unusual vantage points: in 1863, the ‘Argus’ reported that he had photographed the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Burke and Wills memorial in Sturt Street from the roof of the Ballarat Post Office. ‘Bardwell established his own studio in 1866, which included rooms for ladies and gentlemen to prepare themselves for the lens’. He showed photographs of Ballarat at the 1870 Sydney Intercolonial exhibition (for sale at £6), and ‘a photographic panorama of the city of Ballarat’ as well as other photographs of its buildings and streets in the Victorian section of the London International Exhibition of 1873.

Text from the Art Gallery of New South Wales website [Online] Cited 12/11/2021

 

Solomon & Bardwell (Australian, active c. 1859-1866? 1874?) 'Untitled (Mrs John Keys)' c. 1866 (verso)

 

Solomon & Bardwell (Australian, active c. 1859-1866? 1874?)
Untitled (Mrs John Keys) (verso)
c. 1866
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

“In memory of Mrs John Keys who died in the year 1866. Her end was peace.”

 

Stewart & Co. 'Untitled (Oval of a gentleman) (recto)

 

Stewart & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Oval of a gentleman) (recto)
1881-1889
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Flourish dates for Stewart & Co. at 217-219 Bourke Street East, Melbourne: 1881-1889

“… the upmarket city studio of Stewart & Co. ‘photographers, miniature and portrait painters’, which was located in the theatre district of Bourke Street east. The owner, Englishman Robert Stewart (1838-1912), was a professional photographer who relocated from Sydney to Melbourne in 1871.”

 

Stewart & Co. 'Untitled (Oval of a gentleman) (verso)

 

Stewart & Co (Australian)
Untitled (Oval of a gentleman) (verso)
1881-1889
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

Joseph Turner (Australian, active 1856- 1880s) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1866 (recto)

 

Joseph Turner (Australian, active 1856-1880s)
Untitled (Standing woman) (recto)
c. 1866
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

Not dated but Turner’s New Portrait Rooms were at Moorabool St., Geelong, Victoria, between 1865-1867. Ref.: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002.

The dates for Moorabool St., differ from the entry on Design & Art Australia Online below.

 

Joseph Turner (Australian)

Joseph Turner was a professional photographer, worked at 24 Great Ryrie Street, Geelong, Victoria, in late 1856. Turner’s New Portrait Rooms were at 60 (later 66) Moorabool Street in 1857-1867, then at Latrobe Terrace until 1869. In June 1856 Turner lectured at the Geelong Mechanics Institute on ‘The Art of Photography’, promoting its superior accuracy to painting. Basing his talk on the quasi-scientific sermons of the Scottish divine Dr Thomas Dick, published as The Practical Astronomer (1855), Turner argued that the minuteness of light particles was a testament to ‘the wisdom and beneficence of the creator’.

The photographs Turner showed at the 1857 Geelong Mechanics Institute Exhibition may have been ambrotypes as his surviving ambrotype of three children (National Gallery of Australia) is thought to date from about 1860. At the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition in 1866 he showed albumen paper prints of architectural and landscape views in Geelong, including ‘large sized photographs of the Chamber of Commerce and the Savings Bank, as well as the United Presbyterian Church, the Mechanics Institute, the Telegraphic and Post offices, the London Chartered Bank, the Town Hall, a well arranged view of Malop Street, and the Private residences of the town’s leading citizens’. Aware of the importance of the photographic portrait to his business, he also exhibited four frames of plain and coloured cartes-de-visite, including portraits of women where ‘the pose and the drapery was wonderfully managed’. Cartes of the mayor, alderman, councillors and officials of Geelong were arranged against a crimson background in one frame. His several enlarged portraits included one of Mr Morrison of the Geelong College. He won a medal for his tinted portraits and another for his architectural and landscape views.

Reviewing the photographic views at the exhibition in the Australian Monthly Magazine, ‘Sol’ commended Turner’s method of printing and presentation. ‘Vignetting portraits has long been a favourable occupation’, he noted, ‘and we have sometimes seen it applied to landscapes, but never in this particular way, and we certainly admire the exquisite finish it gives to the picture’. The Geelong press, on the other hand, admired Turner’s ‘business enterprise’ in using these views and portraits for local publicity when he set up ‘a miniature exhibition’ in his New Portrait Rooms before sending the photographs to the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, particularly as he advertised it at precisely the time that J. Norton and L. Ormerod’s commissioned views were on display in the Geelong Town Hall.

His ability to make the most of an opportunity again surfaced the following year, on the occasion of the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Geelong. A pair of plates he took, showing the reception for the royal visitor on the Yarra Street wharf with the mayor welcoming the Duke and the town clerk reading the corporation’s address to his Royal Highness, appeared as engravings in the Illustrated London News soon afterwards.

On 9 October 1869 a large fire in Geelong destroyed five buildings in Moorabool Street, including Turner’s premises, and he disappeared from Geelong. [Gael] Newton notes that Joseph Turner, described as ‘an excellent photographer’, was appointed to the Melbourne Observatory on 10 February 1873 and remained there until 1883. Lunar photographs by Turner are held at the Mount Stromlo and Siding Springs Observatory (Australian Capital Territory) and at the Australian National Gallery. Other photographs are in the La Trobe Library and at Melbourne University.

Paul Fox. “Joseph Turner,” on the Design & Art Australia Online website 1992 updated 2011 [Online] Cited 12/11/2021

 

Joseph Turner (Australian, active 1856- 1880s) 'Untitled (Standing woman)' c. 1866 (verso)

 

Joseph Turner (Australian, active 1856- 1880s)
Untitled (Standing woman) (verso)
c. 1866
Albumen silver print
Cartes-de-visite
11 x 7cm

 

 

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28
Nov
21

New website: Marcus Bunyan – celebrating 30 years of art practice in 2021

November 2021

 

Celebration!

 

 

Recent work

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2021
From the series Resonance

 

 

In 2021, I celebrate 30 years of art practice with the creation of a new website, the first to contain all my bodies of work since 1991 (note: more bodies of work still have to be added between 1996-1999).

My first solo exhibition was in a hair dressing salon in High Street, Prahran, Melbourne in 1991, during my second year of a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art Photography) at RMIT University (formerly Phillip Institute out in Bundoora). Titled Of Magic, Music and Myth it featured black and white medium format photographs of the derelict Regent Theatre and the old Victorian Railway’s Newport Workshops.

The concerns that I had at the time in my art making have remained with me to this day: that is, an investigation into the boundaries between identity, space and environment. Music and “spirit” have always been an abiding influence – the intrinsic music of the world and the spirit of objects, nature, people and the cosmos … in a continuing exploration of spaces and places, using found images and digital and film cameras to record glances, meditations and movement through different environments.

30 years after I started I hope I have learnt a lot about image making … and a lot about myself. I also hope the early bodies of my work are still as valid now as they were when I made them. In the 30 years since I became an artist my concerns have remained constant but as well, my sense of exploration and joy at being creative remains undimmed and an abiding passion.

Now, with ego integrated and the marching of the years I just make art for myself, yes, but the best reason to make art is … for love and for the cosmos. For I believe any energy that we give out to the great beyond is recognised by spirit. Success is fleeting but making art gives energy to creation. We all return to the great beyond, eventually.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Each photograph in this posting links to a different body of work on my new website. Please click on the photographs to see the work.

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Opening of Marcus Bunyan's exhibition 'The Naked Man Fears No Pickpockets' at The Photographers' Gallery and Workshop, Melbourne, 1993 showing at left (behind the crowd) the photograph 'Richmond Steps' 1993' 1993

 

Unknown photographer
Opening of Marcus Bunyan’s exhibition The Naked Man Fears No Pickpockets at The Photographers’ Gallery and Workshop, Melbourne, 1993 showing at left (behind the crowd) the photograph Richmond Steps 1993
1993
Polaroid

 

Ian Lobb (Australian, b. 1948) 'Marcus 31/8/92 Taken by Ian Lobb at Phillip [Institute]' 1992

 

Ian Lobb (Australian, b. 1948)
Marcus 31/8/92 Taken by Ian Lobb at Phillip [Institute]
1992
Polaroid

 

Jeff Whitehead (Australian) 'Marcus in his Fred Perry and Doc Martens with his Mamiya RZ67 on tripod with Pelican case on Jeff's car, Studley Park, Melbourne' 1991-1992

 

Jeff Whitehead (Australian)
Marcus in his Fred Perry and Doc Martens with his Mamiya RZ67 on tripod with Pelican case on Jeff’s car, Studley Park, Melbourne
1991-1992
Colour photograph

 

The only photograph of me with my camera 30 years ago!

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Stones, Vaults, Flowers: Père Lachaise' 2017-2020

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2017-2020
From the series Stones, Vaults, Flowers: Père Lachaise

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958). 'Untitled' from the series 'A Day in the Tiergarten' 2019-2020

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2019-2020
From the series A Day in the Tiergarten

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) ‘Untitled’ from the series ‘The Night Journey’ 2019

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2019
From the series The Night Journey

 

Marcus Bunyan (English-Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' 2019 From the series 'Oblique'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2019
From the series Oblique

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Parc de Sceaux' from the series 'Paris in film' 2018

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Parc de Sceaux
2018
From the series Paris in film

 

 

War dreams 2007-2017

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2013-2017
From the series The Shape of Dreams

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Too Much of the Air' 2015

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2015
From the series Too Much of the Air

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'upside down' 2013

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2013
From the series upside down

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Vertical' 2011

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2011
From the series Vertical

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Symbolic Order (cartes de visite)' 2011

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2011
From the series The Symbolic Order (cartes de visite)

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Missing in Action (red kenosis)' 2010

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2010
From the series Missing in Action (red kenosis)

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Missing in Action (dark kenosis) No.68' 2010

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2010
From the series Missing in Action (dark kenosis)

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Missing in Action (horizontal kenosis) No.17' 2010

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2010
From the series Missing in Action (horizontal kenosis)

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'There But For The Grace of You Go I' 2009

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2009
From the series There but for the Grace of You Go I

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2009

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2009
From the series The Shape of Dreams

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Momentum' 2009

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2009
From the series Momentum

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Cut and Thrust' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series Cut and Thrust

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Drone' 2007

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2007
From the series Drone

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Nebula' 2007

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2007
From the series Nebula

 

 

Transformations 1996-2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Discarded Views' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series Discarded Views

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Last Stand' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series Last Stand

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Wonders Never Cease' 2007

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2007
From the series Wonders Never Cease

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Unearth' 2007

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2007
From the series Unearth

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Aporia' 2006

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2006
From the series Aporia

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Photos My Mother Sent Me' 2005

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2005
From the series Photos My Mother Sent Me

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'No Man's Land' 2005

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2005
From the series No Man’s Land

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Tokern' 2005

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2005
From the series Tokern

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Inurtia' 2005

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2005
From the series Inurtia

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'VV – 09GI and NV – 17EP during a thunderstorm, Albury' from the series 'Enclosure' 2005

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
VV – 09GI and NV – 17EP during a thunderstorm, Albury
2005
From the series Enclosure

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Bedtime' from the series 'Neo_mort' 2004

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Bedtime
2004
From the series Neo_mort

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Desideratum' 2003

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2003
From the series Desideratum

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'Last Days at Karngara' 2002

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2002
From the series Last Days at Karngara

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' from the series 'The Wrestlers' 2001

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2001
From the series The Wrestlers

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Button 2B' from the series 'D O < R >' 2001

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Button 2B
2001
From the series D O < R >

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Plane 6' from the series 'Throw High and Hard' 2001

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Plane 6
2001
From the series Throw High and Hard

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958) 'Untitled' 2000 From the series 'Thirdspace'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2000
From the series Thirdspace

 

 

Black and white archive 1991-1997

 

PLEASE VIEW THE BLACK AND WHITE ARCHIVE POSTINGS

 

 

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive 1991-1997

PLEASE VIEW THE BLACK AND WHITE ARCHIVE POSTINGS

 

 

Marcus Bunyan website

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24
Oct
21

Photographs: Marcus Bunyan. ‘Resonance’ 2021

October 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

Resonance noun: the power to bring images, feelings, etc. into the mind of the person reading or listening; the images, etc. produced in this way…

 

 

A body of work for 2021. Very proud of this sequence…

Taken in heavy overcast conditions with slight rain after a thunderstorm had passed through on my Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera, at Eagle’s Nest, Bunurong Marine and Coastal Park, Victoria, Australia.

A period of intense seeing and previsualisation.

No cropping, all full frame photographs. The colours are as the camera saw them.

See the layout of the series on my website.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

48 images
© Marcus Bunyan

 

Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Photographs are available from this series for purchase. As a guide, a digital colour 16″ x 20″ print costs $1,000 plus tracked and insured shipping. For more information please see the Store web page.

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

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03
Oct
21

Text/Exhibition: ‘Mervyn Bishop: Australian Photojournalist’ at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, Acton, Canberra ACT

Exhibition dates: 5th March – 4th October 2021

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this posting contains images and names of people who may have since passed away.

 

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Girl pours tea, Burnt Bridge' 1988

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Girl pours tea, Burnt Bridge
1988
Gelatin silver photograph
30.1 x 40.4cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

In our sight, in our mind

Can you imagine, please, being the first person to step foot on the moon. Or the first person to discover radium. Now imagine being the first Indigenous Australian photojournalist, for the very first time taking photographs of your culture from the inside, photographs that picture the ongoing suffering of Indigenous people but also, as importantly, their strength and joy. Such was the calling of that legend of Australian photography, Mervyn Bishop.

Bishop was the first in a long line of Indigenous photographers who unearth, investigate, picture and honour their community, although interestingly none of the later photographers are photojournalists. Artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Michael Riley, Ricky Maynard, Lisa Bellear, R e a (rea saunders), Michael Cook, Brook Andrew, Bindi Cole and Christian Thompson) follow in his footsteps. Indeed in this posting, there is a photograph by Bishop presumably of the father of the photographer Ricky Maynard, Eric Maynard cleaning a mutton bird, Great Dog Island, Tasmania (1975, below), followed by a photograph by Maynard himself of muttonbirding on Dog Island from his series Portrait of a Distant Land. The songlines of place and ancestors are strong in Aboriginal culture, and “show the connectedness between places and the Creation events and ceremonies associated with those places. People born in that country are forever tied to the creation history of their birthplace and have custodial obligations to that place.”

The stories Bishop shares through his images are different from the colonial ones of yesteryear because they come from within the spirit and soul of the communities he is photographing. Less than 20 years before Bishop’s first photographs things were very different. The Australian journalist and writer Stan Grant observes that, “…there are images in our history, of Aboriginal people in chains. Aboriginal people tied together, with armed police standing either side of them.” In an article on The Guardian website we learn that “Neck chains were still being used on Aboriginal people in Western Australia in 1958. Witnesses at Halls Creek in the Kimberley reported seeing Aboriginal prisoners chained to a veranda post of the police station for weeks at a time… At peak periods, from the 1880s to the 1940s, hundreds of Aboriginal people were chained for alleged cattle theft, and marched out of their country, some for up to 400km. Each neck piece weighed 2.4kg.”1 Even in Dawn – A Magazine for the Aboriginal People of N.S.W. created by the New South Wales Aboriginal Welfare Board and aimed at Aboriginal Australians (running monthly from January 1952 until December 1968) – in which there was an article in February 1965 on a young Mervyn Bishop training to become a photographer (see below) – the forces of colonial assimilation were hard at work, as can be seen on the back cover of the Dawn October 1965 issue, where Leslie Ryan makes his debut at a “Deb” Ball for kindergarten children, where he “seems to be getting a better deal out of life now that he has love and attention.” Now that he has love and attention. Just let that sink in. Today, the dripping irony and sadness of this photograph in relation to what is now known as “The Stolen Generation”2 is apparent, the two young children taken from their families, taken from their culture, dressed to the nines in formal Western attire at such a young age. Remember, this is less than 60 years ago.

As much as Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) was a working photographer making “Documents pour artistes,” declaring his modest ambition to create images for other artists to use as source material, so Bishop was a working photographer who created “Documents for people” at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra from 1974 onwards, where he covered the major developments in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. As Mervyn himself says, “Photography has been my life, my passion for 60 years: the art and technique, the stories I’ve witnessed and captured. I’m glad to be able to share my life’s work with the public.” There it is in a nutshell… an intimate understanding of the the art and technique of photography (the construction the image plane, lighting, point of view, scale, printing, etc… ) and the stories he wanted to tell. And he tells those stories straight down the line, with no bullshit. When asked in an audio recording in this posting about why his award winning photograph Life and death dash (1971, below) was misunderstood, he says “it has nothing to do with blackfellas, put it that way… people say it’s a nun running away with a little black kid, the Stolen Generation – nothing to do with it! Not a bloody thing! … people interpret their own way. Who would know that I was black? People still go on about it but people are talking through their … whatever… so, you don’t know what your talking about.” There you have it.

Like his personality, Bishop’s wonderful photographs are strong and direct, informed and understanding of the work of Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange. In Girl pours tea, Burnt Bridge (1988, above), an Aboriginal mother sits at a kitchen table in a corrugated iron shack and pours tea from a large battered teapot into enamel mugs, one for herself and one presumably for the photographer. Light pours through a hole in the roof. The table is covered in a floral probably plastic table cloth. There are plastic flowers set upon it. The chairs are vinyl. Behind her is an old kitchen unit from the 1950s with a wire screen at eye level, used to keep flies out. To the right are boxes and detritus while to the left a plastic bucket sits on the battered sink. Her child plays next to her oblivious of the camera flash while she stares directly at the camera. Much as Lange’s Migrant Mother, this women possesses her own inner dignity which Bishop captures so well: an unexpected intimacy with the subject in which we confront uncomfortable truths.

Other photographs, such as Children playing in river, Mumeka (1975, below) capture the pure joy of Aboriginal life, or the resoluteness of a people having to survive the trauma of cultures and societies and their complex histories (Couple on veranda, Coffs Harbour 1988, below). But let us be clear… this is not a vanishing race, nor an assimilated race but a proud, creative and intelligent race now picturing its own history and future. As Ricky Maynard states, “The contest remains over who will image and own this history. We must define history, define whose history it is, and define its purpose, as well as the tools used for the telling of this.” Bishop was at the very beginning of this imaging and ownership of Aboriginal history, not by colonial photographers of the past, but from within the community itself, in the present. His photographs are about speaking up about injustice and making sure that Indigenous perspectives were heard and not railroaded by non-indigenous people – Bishop was at the beginning of this – and about how the image speaks truth to power (a non-violent political tactic, employed by dissidents against the received wisdom or propaganda of governments they regard as oppressive, authoritarian or an ideocracy),

Towards the end of the documentary “The Bowraville Murders”, Stan Grant observes that Aboriginal people are kicked every day… [and this remains] out of sight, out of mind. He reminds us that between 1991 and 2021 there have been more than 470 Aboriginal deaths in custody… and not a single conviction. Out of sight, out of mind. Indeed, “fluidity of memory and a capacity to forget is perhaps the most haunting trait of our species. As history confirms, it allows us to come to terms with any degree of social, moral, or environmental degradation.”3 And this is what we all do. That is, until a photographer and artist like Mervyn Bishop comes along and reminds us through his photographs of the integrity, vitality and presence of Aboriginal people, spirit that stretches back thousands of years – despite our capacity to forget the trauma that Indigenous Australians have endured. This is the purpose of Bishop’s photographs … they bring to the forefront of our knowledge and imagination an understanding of the history and future of Aboriginal people. They remain, in our sight, in our mind.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Footnotes

    1. Chris Owen. “How Western Australia’s ‘unofficial’ use of neck chains on Indigenous people lasted 80 years,” on The Guardian website Sun 7 March 2201 [Online] Cited 03/10/2021.
    2. The Stolen Generations refers to a period in Australia’s history where Aboriginal children were removed from their families through government policies. This happened from the mid-1800s to the 1970s.In the 1860s, Victoria became the first state to pass laws authorising Aboriginal children to be removed from their parents. Similar policies were later adopted by other states and territories – and by the federal government when it was established in the 1900s. For about a century, thousands of Aboriginal children were systematically taken from their families, communities and culture, many never to be returned. These children are known as the Stolen Generations survivors, or Stolen Children.These children were taken by the police; from their homes; on their way to or from school. They were placed in over 480 institutions, adopted or fostered by non-Indigenous people and often subjected to abuse. The children were denied all access to their culture, they were not allowed to speak their language and they were punished if they did. The impacts of this are still being felt today.There are currently more than 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia. Over one third of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are their descendants. In Western Australia almost half of the population have Stolen Generation links.Anonymous. “Who are the Stolen Generations?” on the Healing Foundation website [Online] Cited 03/10/2021.
    3. Wade Davis. “The Unraveling of America,” on the Rolling Stone website August 6, 2020 [Online] Cited 03/10/2021.

.
Many thankx to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“The contest remains over who will image and own this history. We must define history, define whose history it is, and define its purpose, as well as the tools used for the telling of this.”

.
Ricky Maynard, 2007

 

“Australia in many ways is a crime scene. And the first crime is Captain Cook ordering his men to shoot at Aboriginal people. That’s the shot that we still hear all around Australia. And of course, there are images in our history, of Aboriginal people in chains. Aboriginal people tied together, with armed police standing either side of them. This is what has happened in our country, so it isn’t a great step to go from frontier attitudes of violence to deaths of three children in Bowraville. Because for us, it’s the same thing. It’s a killing that never stops.”

.
Stan Grant quoted in the documentary “The Bowraville Murders” directed by Allan Clarke on SBS on Demand, Australia, 2021

 

 

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia will celebrates Mervyn Bishop, one of Australia’s most prolific and influential photographers, with a new exhibition 5 March – 4 October 2021.

Mr Bishop’s images of culture, politics and people have significantly influenced our collective understanding of Australia’s history. This exhibition is drawn from the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection, the artist’s private archive, and enriched by sound and moving image from the NFSA.

Mervyn Bishop features iconic photographs that derive from his career as a photojournalist, alongside personal images of family and friends and intimate portraits of members of the Aboriginal community. Spanning the past 60 years, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into Bishop’s life and work.

 

In 1963 Mervyn Bishop left his hometown of Brewarrina, venturing to Sydney, where he successfully applied for a cadetship at The Sydney Morning Herald. He became Australia’s first Aboriginal press photographer and in 1971 won the News Photographer of the Year Award with his front-page photograph Life and Death Dash, 1971.

Bishop went on to work at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra in 1974 where he covered the major developments in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. This included his iconic image from 1975 when the (then) Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, poured a handful of earth back into the hand of Vincent Lingiari, Gurindji elder and traditional landowner.

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled [Australian Aborigines in chains]' Nd

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled [Australian Aborigines in chains]
Nd

 

Indigenous Australians in neck chains

 

Indigenous Australians in neck chains. Historical records say they had been chained after killing an animal. Neck chains were used by police across Western Australia from the 1880s to the late 1950s. Photograph: State Library of Western Australia

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory' 1975, printed 1999

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory
1975, printed 1999
Type R3 photograph
30.5 x 30.5cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop/ Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

Gurindji strike (or Wave Hill Walk-Off) led by Vincent Lingiari

On 23 August 1966 200 Gurindji stockmen, domestic workers and their families walked off Wave Hill station in the Northern Territory and refused to keep working for the station owners. The disagreement over wages and land ownership lasted for seven years. In 1974 some of the Gurindji people’s homelands were returned to them. This influenced the first legislation, passed in 1976, that allowed Aboriginal people to claim land title. In September 2020 the Gurindji claim for native title to Wave Hill station was granted, 54 years after the walk-off that helped to spark Australia’s Indigenous land rights movement.

 

Why did the Gurindji people strike?

In the 1960s Wave Hill station was owned by an international company called Vestey Brothers. Vestey Brothers paid the Gurindji people working on the station very low wages. On 23 August 1966 the Gurindji people stopped working and walked off Wave Hill station in protest. They were led by elder Vincent Lingiari.

In 1967 the Gurindji set up a camp at Daguragu (also known as Wattie Creek). It soon became clear that the Gurindji did not simply want fair wages. More importantly they wanted the government to return some of their land. For seven years the Gurindji stayed at Daguragu and sent letters and petitions to the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Government asking that their land be returned to them.

How was the dispute resolved?

In 1972 the Labor Party led by Gough Whitlam came to power. The Whitlam government was interested in establishing Aboriginal land rights. Around the same time, Vestey Brothers finally agreed to hand over a small section of Wave Hill station around Daguragu to the Gurindji people.

In 1975 Prime Minister Whitlam visited Daguragu and in a ceremony he returned the land to the Gurindji people. Whitlam famously poured a handful of soil through Vincent Lingiari’s hand and said, ‘Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people’. …

The Gurindji strike helped to make the Australian public aware of Aboriginal land ownership claims. It also influenced the first legislation in Australia that allowed Aboriginal people to apply for ownership of their traditional lands, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Text from the National Museum of Australia website [Online] Cited 14/09/2021

 

 

“I bin thinkin’ this bin Gurindji country. We bin here longa time before them Vestey mob.”

.
Vincent Lingiari, 1966

 

“We originally took the picture under the shade of a bough shed and it didn’t have a nice look about it.”

.
Mervyn Bishop

 

 

What’s the backstory to your famous land rights photograph?

 

 

Conversation between Guardian Australia picture editor Jonny Weeks and the photographer Mervyn Bishop in the article by Jonny Weeks and Miles Martignoni. “Great Australian photographs: Mervyn Bishop’s symbolic shot – an audio essay,” on the Guardian Australia website Mon 5 Jun 2017 [Online] Cited 14/9/2021.

 

 

An historic handful of dirt: Whitlam and the legacy of the Wave Hill Walk-Off

On the prime ministerial jet that morning, public servant turned Aboriginal affairs adviser H.C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs urged Whitlam to keep his speech short and invest the day with a sense of ceremony.

Coombs recounted a story told by anthropologist Bill Stanner: how Wurundjeri elders had formalised their people’s 1835 land treaty with encroaching settlers at Port Phillip by placing soil into the hand of explorer John Batman. Hearing Coombs’ suggestion that the PM might reverse the gesture with Lingiari, Whitlam revised his performance plan for Daguragu on the spot.

When it came to his turn to speak, Whitlam congratulated the Gurindji and their supporters on their victory after a nine-year “fight for justice”. Promising that the Australian government would “help you in your plans to use this land fruitfully”, his speech concluded with the words:

Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people, and I put into your hands this piece of the earth itself as a sign that we restore them to you and your children forever.

.
In finishing, Whitlam handed Lingiari the new deeds to the Gurindji’s land, now officially dubbed NT Pastoral Lease 805. Then, to the joy of assembled photographers, he stooped down, grabbed a handful of red earth, and poured it into Lingiari’s open palm. …

Lingiari – who according to one reporter was struck with a case of nerves – responded to Whitlam and the crowd in his own language:

The important white men are giving us this land ceremonially… It belonged to the whites, but today it is in the hands of us Aboriginals all around here. Let us live happily as mates, let us not make it hard for each other… They will give us cattle, they will give us horses, and we will be happy… These important white men have come here to our ceremonial ground and they are welcome…

You (Gurindji) must keep this land safe for yourselves, it does not belong to any different Welfare man. They took our country away from us, now they have bought it back ceremonially.

.
After Whitlam gave the old man even more dirt for the benefit of the press, photographer Mervyn Bishop’s images of the “handover” became some of the most recognised in Australian political history. The power of the photos rested in the symbolism of Whitlam’s gesture, made on behalf of millions concerned by Aboriginal dispossession.

The handover implicitly acknowledged the moral rightfuness of the Gurindji’s stand, and the historical injustices done to them by the Europeans on their country. It was by dint of the Gurindji’s hard slog at Wattie Creek that they had successfully brought all this to the nation’s attention. The handover day was the old Gurindji men’s finest hour, and their victory.

Charlie Ward. “An historic handful of dirt: Whitlam and the legacy of the Wave Hill Walk-Off,” on The Conversation website August 21, 2016 [Online] Cited 14/09/2021

 

 

 

Mervyn Bishop: pioneer, artist, and source of inspiration

Hear from National Film and Sound Archive of Australia curator Tara Marynowsky as she describes the ‘insider’s knowledge’ visitors to the Mervyn Bishop exhibition will receive, and how his story brings together those of the famous faces he captured.

 

 

In this excerpt from ABC series art+soul curator Hetti Perkins talks with artist photographer Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), Canberra
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA 1 - Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), Canberra
Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition entrance

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition entrance
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA - Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA
Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA, featuring images and footage of boxer Lionel Rose. See Bishop’s photograph Lionel Rose at his press conference (1968, below)
Photographs by Grace Costa

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Lionel Rose at his press conference' 1968

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Lionel Rose at his press conference
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
30.1 x 30.1cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

Mervyn Bishop cameras

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA showing some of his cameras
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop with camera

 

Mervyn Bishop with camera
Courtesy NFSA

 

 

Teenage Mervyn had already in a sense begun his career in the mid 1950s. He started to take documentary family snaps on his mother’s Kodak 620, followed by a more expensive fifteen pound Japanese 35mm of his own in 1957. He was encouraged by with the help of a Church of England Bush Brother [priest] Brother Richard and Vic King a local photographer who had a dark room that Merv frequented. He then began to hold backyard slide nights of his family and neighbourhood snaps.

By the beginning of the 1960s the search for the exotic authentic had shifted from the south-east to northern Australia. Although Australian painters such as Russell Drysdale and Arthur Boyd had created images from their trips to western NSW post WWII, photographer Axel Poignant and US Life magazine photographer Fritz Gorro both visited Arnhem Land in the 1950s to document and ‘compose’ their subject matter. …

‘Merv Bishop Graduates from Photographers’ Course’, Dawn magazine’s headline said. After leaving Dubbo High in 1962 he spent a year as a clerk with the ABC before starting as a cadet photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald in 1963, (the first Aboriginal photographer ever hired by the paper) and entered the first photographic course at the Sydney Technical College, Broadway Sydney, graduating in 1966, Next year was the important year of the referendum concerning Aboriginal people and ‘the state’…

Djon Mundine. “Brewarrina Boy,” on the Australian Museum website 12/07/2021 [Online] Cited 14/09/2021

 

Mervyn Bishop media call 4 March 2021 - Curator Coby Edgar and Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop media call 4 March 2021 – Curator Coby Edgar and Mervyn Bishop
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop in a recreation of his darkroom at the exhibition media call

 

Mervyn Bishop in a recreation of his darkroom at the exhibition media call
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA - Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop at NFSA
Photo by Madeleine Stevens, Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA showing at left, Pool game, Burnt Bridge (1988, below); at second left, Save the children pre-school, Nambucca Heads (1974, below); at centre Woman standing near electric power cord in water, Burnt Bridge (1988, below); and at right, Couple on veranda, Coffs Harbour (1988, below)
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Pool game, Burnt Bridge' 1988

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Pool game, Burnt Bridge
1988
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Save the children pre-school, Nambucca Heads' 1974

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Save the children pre-school, Nambucca Heads
1974
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

“I don’t think there were even Indigenous journos in those days. As my friend said: ‘You were the lone ranger'”

.
Mervyn Bishop

 

 

How diverse was your photographic subject matter?

 

 

Conversation between Guardian Australia picture editor Jonny Weeks and the photographer Mervyn Bishop in the article by Jonny Weeks and Miles Martignoni. “Great Australian photographs: Mervyn Bishop’s symbolic shot – an audio essay,” on the Guardian Australia website Mon 5 Jun 2017 [Online] Cited 14/9/2021.

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Woman standing near electric power cord in water, Burnt Bridge' 1988, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Woman standing near electric power cord in water, Burnt Bridge
1988, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
40.0 x 30.0cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Couple on veranda, Coffs Harbour' 1988

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Couple on veranda, Coffs Harbour
1988
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA showing at middle, Elders, Amata (1977, below); and at right, ‘Bob’s catch’ Shoalhaven Heads (1974, below)
Courtesy NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Elders, Amata' 1977, printed 1991

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Elders, Amata
1977, printed 1991
Gelatin silver print
29.9 x 40.5cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) ''Bob's catch' Shoalhaven Heads' 1974, printed 1991

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
‘Bob’s catch’ Shoalhaven Heads
1974, printed 1991
Gelatin silver print
30.2 x 30.1cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop exhibition at the NFSA showing in the bottom photograph, Life and death dash (1971, below)
Courtesy NFSA

 

 

“People say it’s about the stolen generations, but it’s got nothing to do with that – not a bloody thing.”

.
Mervyn Bishop

 

 

Why is ‘Life-and-death dash’ misunderstood?

 

 

Conversation between Guardian Australia picture editor Jonny Weeks and the photographer Mervyn Bishop in the article by Jonny Weeks and Miles Martignoni. “Great Australian photographs: Mervyn Bishop’s symbolic shot – an audio essay,” on the Guardian Australia website Mon 5 Jun 2017 [Online] Cited 14/9/2021.

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Life and death dash' 1971

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Life and death dash
1971
Gelatin silver photograph
40.4 x 30.1cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Far West Children's health clinic, Manly' 1968

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Far West Children’s health clinic, Manly
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Alan Judd, ABC trainee radio announcer, Sydney' 1968

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Alan Judd, ABC trainee radio announcer, Sydney
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Lois O'Donoghue CBA, AM, and Oodgeroo Noonuccal' 1974

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Lois O’Donoghue CBA, AM, and Oodgeroo Noonuccal
1974
Gelatin silver photograph
30 x 30.4cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

Lowitja Lois O’Donoghue Smart, AC, CBE, DSG (born Lois O’Donoghue; 1 August 1932) is an Aboriginal Australian retired public administrator. In 1990-1996 she was the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) (dismantled in 2004). She is patron of the Lowitja Institute, a research institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (/ˈʊdɡəruː ˈnuːnəkəl/ UUD-gə-roo NOO-nə-kəl; born Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska, later Kath Walker (3 November 1920 – 16 September 1993) was an Aboriginal Australian political activist, artist and educator, who campaigned for Aboriginal rights. Noonuccal was best known for her poetry, and was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse.

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Photography cadets with model, Sydney Morning Herald' 1967

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Photography cadets with model, Sydney Morning Herald
1967
Gelatin silver photograph
29.8 x 40.4cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina' 1966

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina
1966
Gelatin silver photograph
30 x 40cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Roslyn Watson' 1973

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Roslyn Watson
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
40 x 30cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Children playing in river, Mumeka' 1975

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Children playing in river, Mumeka
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
30.1 x 29.9cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Children playing in river, Mumeka' 1975 (detail)

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Children playing in river, Mumeka (detail)
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
30.1 x 29.9cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Untitled. 2 Boys posing, Tony Mundine's gym, Redfern' Nd

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Untitled. 2 Boys posing, Tony Mundine’s gym, Redfern
Nd
35mm black and white slide
2.5 x 3.5cm
Mervyn Bishop Archive, Art Gallery of New South Wales Archive
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'H Thomas, C Dixon, K Smith ACT' 1976

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
H Thomas, C Dixon, K Smith ACT
1976
35mm colour slide
2.5 x 3.5cm
Mervyn Bishop Archive, Art Gallery of New South Wales Archive
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Murray Island' 1977

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Murray Island
1977
35mm colour slide
3.5 x 2.5cm
Mervyn Bishop archive, Art Gallery of New South Wales Archive
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

Exhibition dedicated to photographer Mervyn Bishop opens in Canberra

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) to showcase work of award-winning artist from 5 March – 1 August 2021.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is celebrating Mervyn Bishop, one of Australia’s most prolific and influential photographers, with a new exhibition opening in Canberra tomorrow Friday 5 March. Mr Bishop himself will present a floor talk on opening day, at 12pm.

Mr Bishop’s images of culture, politics and people have significantly influenced our collective understanding of Australia’s history. This exhibition is drawn from the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) collection, the artist’s private archive, and enriched by sound and moving image from the NFSA.

Mervyn Bishop features iconic photographs that derive from his career as a photojournalist, alongside personal images of family and friends and intimate portraits of members of the Aboriginal community. Spanning the past 60 years, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into Bishop’s life and work.

NFSA Acting CEO Nancy Eyers said: ‘We are pleased to bring the work of Mervyn Bishop to Canberra and share his story with our audiences. Mr Bishop’s photographs present us with a wonderful combination of history, artistic excellence, and self-representation. In addition to the striking prints from the AGNSW, the NFSA’s audiovisual collection will bring a new dimension to the exhibition.’

‘This comprehensive exhibition was developed by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), but there are new additions from the NFSA collection for Canberra audiences. It’s been fantastic working with them; there are not many exhibitions that combine photography with mixed media, and I think visitors will be amazed by this combination.’

AGNSW Curator Coby Edgar added: ‘Working with Mervyn Bishop and the NFSA to build this show has been a truly collaborative process with the aim to present Australia through Mervyn’s eyes. He has captured many of our country’s most pivotal moments politically and socially, and this exhibition is a celebration of his life and practice and the Australian peoples and cultures that he has documented.’

In 1963 Mervyn Bishop left his hometown of Brewarrina, venturing to Sydney, where he successfully applied for a cadetship at The Sydney Morning Herald. He became Australia’s first Aboriginal press photographer and in 1971 won the News Photographer of the Year Award with his front-page photograph Life and Death Dash 1971. Bishop went on to work at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra in 1974 where he covered the major developments in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. This included his iconic image from 1975 when the (then) Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, poured a handful of earth back into the hand of Vincent Lingiari, Gurindji elder and traditional landowner. Bishop’s childhood, his life experiences and career will be explored by former Reuters journalist Tim Dobbyn in an upcoming biography tentatively titled A Handful of Sand.

Mervyn Bishop said: ‘Photography has been my life, my passion for 60 years: the art and technique, the stories I’ve witnessed and captured. I’m glad to be able to share my life’s work with the public.’

An AGNSW touring exhibition, presented in collaboration with NFSA.

 

About Mervyn Bishop

Born and raised in Brewarrina, New South Wales, Mervyn Bishop was encouraged by his mother to take his first photograph. After witnessing the ‘magic’ of the developing process, he became passionate about photography. In 1963 he successfully applied for a four-year cadetship at The Sydney Morning Herald and completed a Photography Certificate Course at Sydney Technical College during these years. Bishop continued to work for The Sydney Morning Herald and was Australia’s first Aboriginal press photographer. In 1971 he won the News Photographer of the Year Award with his front-page photograph, Life and Death Dash, 1971.

Bishop started work at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra in 1974, in the early years of an important era in Indigenous self-determination. Here he covered the major developments in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, including the historical moment in 1975 when the (then) Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, poured a handful of earth back into the hand of Vincent Lingiari, Gurindji elder and traditional landowner. This image – representing the Australian government’s recognition of Aboriginal land rights – became an icon of the land rights movement and Australian photography. In 1989 Bishop received his Associate Diploma in Adult Education at Sydney College of Advanced Education and went on to teach photography at Tranby Aboriginal College in Glebe, Sydney and the Eora Centre TAFE (Technical and Further Education) in Redfern, Sydney.

Bishop’s diverse career, combining journalistic and art photography, was celebrated in 1991 in his solo exhibition and accompanying monograph, ‘In Dreams: Mervyn Bishop Thirty Years of Photography 1960-1990’. This important exhibition was curated by Tracey Moffatt and opened at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, before touring nationally and internationally. The timely and intimate photographs celebrate Bishop’s contribution to Australian art and photojournalism. In 2000, Bishop was presented with the Red Ochre Award from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council, in recognition of his pioneering work and ongoing influence.

Biography by Jonathan Jones, first published in ‘Tradition today: Indigenous art in Australia’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2014.

 

Mervyn Bishop’s journey to be one of Australia’s best-known photographers is paved with triumphs, setbacks and tragedy. Bishop left Canberra in 1979 to return to The Sydney Morning Herald in a career choice that ended with his departure in 1986. While looking for work he was befriended by people from the Sydney arts scene, leading to his first solo exhibition in 1991, the In Dreams show. But this victory is forever linked to the death of his wife Elizabeth on the same day as the exhibition’s opening. His later work is dominated by portraiture that demonstrates his ability to put people at ease and a sympathetic appreciation for the human condition.

Synopsis from the upcoming biography A Handful of Sand, by author Tim Dobbyn.

Press release from the NFSA

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Fisherman Charlie Ardler, Wreck Bay' 1975, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Fisherman Charlie Ardler, Wreck Bay
1975, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 30.4cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Womenfolk, Bowraville' 1974, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Womenfolk, Bowraville
1974, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 30.4cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

What is your legacy? And whose work do you admire?

 

 

Conversation between Guardian Australia picture editor Jonny Weeks and the photographer Mervyn Bishop in the article by Jonny Weeks and Miles Martignoni. “Great Australian photographs: Mervyn Bishop’s symbolic shot – an audio essay,” on the Guardian Australia website Mon 5 Jun 2017 [Online] Cited 14/9/2021.

 

 

Additional images not in exhibition

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher) "Aborigine Trains as News Photographer," 'Dawn' magazine, February 1965

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher) "Aborigine Trains as News Photographer," 'Dawn' magazine, February 1965

 

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher)
Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare (1970-1975)
Aborigine Trains as News Photographer
Dawn magazine, February 1965

 

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher) "Your Career – Photography," 'Dawn' magazine, October 1965

 

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher)
Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare (1970-1975)
Your Career – Photography
Dawn magazine, October 1965

 

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher) Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare (1970-1975) "Untitled [Deb Ball]" Dawn magazine, October 1965 back cover

 

Aboriginal Protection Board (1952-1969) (publisher)
Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare (1970-1975)
Untitled [Deb Ball]
Dawn magazine, October 1965 back cover

 

 

Dawn – A Magazine for the Aboriginal People of N.S.W.

Dawn was an Australian magazine created by the New South Wales Aboriginal Welfare Board and aimed at Aboriginal Australians. It ran monthly from January 1952 until December 1968. Two issues were published in 1969 before the disbanding of the Aboriginal Welfare Board led to the publication ceasing. The magazine was relaunched in April 1970 under the title New Dawn, published by the New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare. It continued to be produced on a monthly basis; production slowed in 1974 and a final issue was published in July 1975.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Aboriginal children, cousin Helen Bishop, Gibbs children, Brewarrina, New South Wales' 1965, printed 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Aboriginal children, cousin Helen Bishop, Gibbs children, Brewarrina, New South Wales
1965, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Bishop Town picnic, Brewarrina' 1966, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Bishop Town picnic, Brewarrina
1966, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 40.0cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Lil and Larry Cargill at the rocks, Brewarrina, New South Wales' 1967, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Lil and Larry Cargill at the rocks, Brewarrina, New South Wales
1967, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'A woman drinks a pint of beer in a Glebe pub on the eve of its closing' 1967

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
A woman drinks a pint of beer in a Glebe pub on the eve of its closing
1967
Gelatin silver print
30.2 x 30.3cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Patrons drinking at a pub on the eve of its closure, Glebe, New South Wales' 1967, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Patrons drinking at a pub on the eve of its closure, Glebe, New South Wales
1967, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30.2 x 30.3cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

''YES' for Aborigines pamphlet' 1967

 

‘YES’ for Aborigines pamphlet
1967
Donated by Janelle Marshall, the child pictured on the pamphlet
National Museum of Australia

 

 

It is 1967.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are citizens, can vote and are as entitled to government pensions as all other Australians.

But they are not formally counted in census returns, and the Australian Government does not have the power to make laws for their benefit.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are subject to individual state controls and laws, rather than uniform national ones, and in several cases the states are not legislating for the benefit of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inhabitants.

To change this situation there needs to be a change to the Constitution, by a referendum, a national vote.

Text from the National Museum of Australia website

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'The Murai tree at the Rocks, Brewarrina, New South Wales' 1969, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
The Murai tree at the Rocks, Brewarrina, New South Wales
1969, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30.3 x 30.3cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Guests at Lorraine Taylor's wedding at Terrigal, New South Wales' 1973, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Guests at Lorraine Taylor’s wedding at Terrigal, New South Wales
1973, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Warning sign 30 kilometres from Maningrida, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory' 1974, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Warning sign 30 kilometres from Maningrida, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27.3 x 40.2cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

 

“Do not take picture with camer. If someone take it? The law said, please, when coming in here, take only the park painting, no money, but someone else body is ten dollars and countrie is eleven dollars. This is going all over the world to white men and blacks.”

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'School bus, Yarrabah' 1974, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
School bus, Yarrabah
1974, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 40.0cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'The bus stop, Yalambie Reserve, Mt Isa' 1974, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
The bus stop, Yalambie Reserve, Mt Isa
1974, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 40.0cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Sawmill workers, Cherbourg' 1974

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Sawmill workers, Cherbourg
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Pay day, Hooker Creek, Northern Territory' 1974, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Pay day, Hooker Creek, Northern Territory
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27.3 x 40.2cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Pay day, Hooker Creek, Northern Territory' 1974, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Pay day, Hooker Creek, Northern Territory
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27.3 x 40.2cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Aboriginal man beside humpy, Yuendumu, Northern Territory' 1974, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Aboriginal man beside humpy, Yuendumu, Northern Territory
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Woman attend home management course at Yuendumu' 1974, printed 2008

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Woman attend home management course at Yuendumu
1974, printed 2008
Gelatin silver print
30.0 x 40.0cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 2008
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

 

Yuendumu is a town in the Northern Territory of Australia, 293 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs on the Tanami Road, within the Central Desert Region local government area. It ranks as one of the larger remote communities in central Australia, and has a thriving community of Aboriginal artists.

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Melba Saunders surrounded by stuffed koalas at an Aboriginal craft shop, Brisbane' 1974, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Melba Saunders surrounded by stuffed koalas at an Aboriginal craft shop, Brisbane
1974, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
40.2 x 27cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'John Nykamula treating patient Gurrumuru Mala, Arnhemland, Northern Territory' 1975, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
John Nykamula treating patient Gurrumuru Mala, Arnhemland, Northern Territory
1975, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
40.2 x 30cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Bishop and Gurindji men outside the Murramulla Social Club' 1975

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Bishop and Gurindji men outside the Murramulla Social Club
1975, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'An Aboriginal school teacher and two children, Maningrida community, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory' 1975, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
An Aboriginal school teacher and two children, Maningrida community, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
1975, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30 x 29.8cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Eric Maynard cleaning a mutton bird, Great Dog Island, Tasmania' 1975, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Eric Maynard cleaning a mutton bird, Great Dog Island, Tasmania
1975, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30.2 x 30cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Ricky Maynard (Australian, b. 1953; Trawlwoolway) 'Coming Home' 2005

 

Ricky Maynard (Australian, b. 1953; Trawlwoolway)
Coming Home
2005
From the series Portrait of a Distant Land
Gelatin silver print
33.8 x 52.0cm
© Ricky Maynard

 

 

Shearwaters, a type of muttonbird, also called yolla or moonbird, are harvested for food (the meat tastes like mutton), feathers for mattress fill, and the omega-3 rich oil, which is squeezed out of the birds’ guts, for medicinal use. Harvesting is a confronting job to outsiders: chicks are pulled from their burrows and their necks are quickly snapped. …

Indigenous people have been catching muttonbirds for thousands of years. “Millennia,” Maynard emphasises. “It’s just evolved. Our old fellas used to go to the rookeries, and get these birds when they were there because they were a great food source; a seasonal tucker.”

Dog Island, where the muttonbirds are harvested in Maynard’s play, is named for Great Dog or Big Dog Island: a 354-hectare granite isle filled with tussock grassland, off the south coast of Flinders Island in Bass Strait, where commercial birding operations have existed for more than 200 years. Maynard’s father didn’t take him muttonbirding on Big Dog, his family’s “spiritual home”, until he was 15, because birding season, which runs late March through late April, clashed with the school term. Maynard, though, takes his eight-year-old son each year.

Maynard is a Trawlwoolway man and descendant of Mannalargenna, a leader of the north-east Tasmanian Indigenous peoples, who led resistance against British soldiers in the early 19th century.

In 1995 the Tasmanian government handed back several sites, including Great Dog and Babel islands, to Indigenous people in an acknowledgement of Aboriginal dispossession.

Steve Dow. “‘I wanted something to celebrate’: Indigenous playwright tackles tradition in ‘The Season’,” on The Guardian website Wed 14 Dec 2016 [Online] Cited 14/09/2021

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Three Aboriginal women holding cakes, Mungundi, New South Wales' 1976, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Three Aboriginal women holding cakes, Mungundi, New South Wales
1976, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30 x 30cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Charles Perkins shaking hands with members of the National Aboriginal Congress, Canberra' 1978, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Charles Perkins shaking hands with members of the National Aboriginal Congress, Canberra
1978, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
30 x 30cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

 

Charles Perkins (Australian, 1936-2000; Arrernte; Kalkadoon)

Charles Nelson Perkins AO, commonly known as Charlie Perkins (16 June 1936 – 19 October 2000), was an Australian Aboriginal activist, soccer player and administrator. He was the first Indigenous Australian man to graduate tertiary education, and is known for his instigation and organisation of the 1965 Freedom Ride and his key role in advocating for a “yes” vote in the Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals). He had a long career as a public servant.

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Untitled (Bellbrook NSW, man leaning on fence)' 4 May 1988

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Untitled (Bellbrook NSW, man leaning on fence)
4 May 1988
Art Gallery of New South Wales
© Mervyn Bishop
Photo: AGNSW

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Children floating on board, Yirrkala, Northern Territory' 1989, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Children floating on board, Yirrkala, Northern Territory
1989, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
27 x 40cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945) 'Aboriginal Australian Gerard Rice at the Rally, Sydney' 1989, reproduction 2014

 

Mervyn Bishop (Australian, b. 1945)
Aboriginal Australian Gerard Rice at the Rally, Sydney
1989, reproduction 2014
Gelatin silver print
40 x 27cm
National Library of Australia
© Mervyn Bishop

 

 

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 4pm

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia website

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15
Aug
21

Review: ‘William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen’ at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane

Exhibition dates: 27th March – 22nd August 2021

Curator: Rosie Hays, Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

 

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Golden Summer' 1987/2016

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Golden Summer
1987/2016
Inkjet print, gold leaf on Innova Softex paper
40 x 30cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) ''Allan' from the monologue 'Sadness'' 1992

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
‘Allan’ from the monologue ‘Sadness’
1992
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

The Family of Yang

Let me tell you a story… a story made up of many smaller tales, told to me by a chronicler, diarist, writer, performance artist and filmmaker; socio-documentary photographer and historian; master of oral history and storytelling – Chinese-Australian artist William Yang.

Voluminous amounts of text have been written about Yang’s art practice and for this reason I only offer here a brief precis of his fifty year career as an artist. Indeed, it is impossible to cover such an expansive career in performance, film, text and photographs in one posting. After the precis I offer some thoughts and insights into Yang’s work.

Yang was born in 1943 into a family of Chinese immigrants in Far North Queensland. After moving to Brisbane in the mid-1960s to study architecture, he journeyed to Sydney in 1969 where he helped produce plays. Yang picked up a camera and started taking photographs of his friends, celebrities, parties and the gay scene in Sydney, Australia in the early-mid 1970s. His first exhibition Sydneyphiles at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography in 1977 set him on his way. Personal reflections were written directly on the mounts around his photographs something that he was to adapt further, inscribing his stories directly on the photographs in later bodies of work (“an oral tradition of storytelling transferred to the physical medium of the photograph”). In 1989, Yang began performing monologues with slide projections in theatres, integrating his skills as a writer and a visual artist.

As can be heard in the exhibition curator Rosie Hays’ video talk below, Yang’s first period was as a social life photographer / commercial photographer, earning a living selling his photographs to gay newspapers; his second period encompassed investigations into marginalised communities: queer community, Australian-Chinese community, Indigenous communities and telling alternative histories of Australia including the history of his Chinese-Australian heritage; and in the third period, Yang’s work has become more reflective, interested in ordinary things, interested in the life of the human embodied in the landscape.

.
As a documentary photographer and performance artist, Yang’s work has examined numerous linked themes. The artist investigates the intimate connections between dystopian and utopian worlds – for example, between the body racked by AIDS and the body beautiful (see above), or between the racism of his childhood and the acceptance of his Chinese heritage – as he probes the paradoxes of existence, those parallels streams of life and death, where one person looks death in the eye and the other doesn’t even know it exists… in that moment. And then proposes a reconciliation between past and present, personal and private, between the margins and the centre. Through his personal stories he exposes himself in the act of making his art, transcending his life in art. Ego drops away and he becomes entirely his own person, entirely himself, when he performs in his inimitable, self-deprecating style.

I have a suspicion, and I could be entirely wrong here, that at heart the young Yang was a very shy and insecure person. From personal experience I know that many introverts hide their shyness through extrovert behaviour, wanting to belong, wanting to be in with the in crowd, to be the life of the party. Yang was always there at any event opening or party, never without a camera, always ready to capture what life put before him because he wanted to belong. Then, to his great credit, instead of getting caught in a rut as many artists do repeating the same thing over and over again, he had the intelligence, will and creativity to push himself further, to take those next steps in his development as an artist and human being… to take those steps that descend, in metaphor, to the centre of the earth, to the centre of his existence. He was on that golden path of self discovery, another step in the evolution of himself. He wanted to know how he, and others, fitted into the great scheme of life. As a chronicler of moments, a chronicler of history, he speaks aloud the thoughts of his own becoming.

While photography is about capturing a moment and being a vehicle for storytelling, it is so much more than that. It can be about the relationship between the photographer and the subject and how that relationship evolves from a personal engagement to a universal engagement. It is the artist’s view of the world through the camera lens turned from a personal story into a universal story to which any human being can relate. Here we have empathy and humanity, diversity and racism, voyeurism and performance, public and private, bigotry and poofdom, decadence and death. The artist tells those stories, where personal is universal.

Yang is an national treasure, a living legend. People relate to William Yang. They reveal themselves to him because they feel comfortable in his presence, comfortable in his spirit and energy. He draws people to him, he is a sage – from the Latin sapere ‘be wise’ – who loves documenting people and their interactions with each other and with himself. He draws people into his orbit… and creates magical stories and intimate photographs about human existence. There is an undeniable virtu to the person and his work. All the subjects of his art are his family. Whether a celebration of life, an investigation into community, in joy and in sadness, we are all, always, part of the Family of Yang.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Queensland-born, Sydney-based photographer William Yang’s significant contribution to Australian photography spans five decades. Known for his reflective and joyous depictions of Australia’s LGBTIQ+ scene in the late 70s and 80s through to the present. Yang’s photography is informed by the cultural and political pressures of growing up as a gay man from a Chinese immigrant family in north Queensland.

This exhibition is a major survey of Yang’s work, which traces his career from documentary photography through to explorations of cultural and sexual identities and his depictions of landscape. Yang integrates a photographic practice with writing, video and performance. The exhibition includes Yang’s prolific social portraiture which features prominent creative identities from theatre, film, art and literature such as Patrick White, Brett Whiteley and Cate Blanchett, his revelatory insights into the LGBTIQ+ community, and insightful images of the Australian landscape.

Seeing and Being Seen also includes early social photographs of Sydney’s arts scene as well as the artist’s long exploration of his family and childhood experience in North Queensland which interrogate and celebrate his Chinese-Australian identity, Yang’s identity as a Chinese-Australian, a gay man and artist informs his marginalised experience.

While the stories and images included in the exhibition are quite specific to Yang’s life, the emotions underpinning them are instantly recognisable and acutely relatable. There is confession and courage in his storytelling – his most well-known works are often deeply personal and represent the means by which he reckons with his past, his relationships, and his experience outside the mainstream.

Text from the QAGOMA website

 

 

“Yang’s generation is not life as reported in the newspapers but ‘as I saw it’: a personal account summed up as a litany of parties, of innocence lost and worldliness gained, a continuum of his search for contact and meaning. Like his contemporaries Rennie Ellis or Michael Rosen, William Yang is a social photographer, a recorder of life. His strength lies in creating a living testament, and his medium’s strength is that it is necessarily shared. He offers no moral tale, nor any notion of karma to underscore the events: just the three basic but vital stories – birth, love and death.”

.
Michael Desmond, Senior Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

 

“For me, seeing William’s images of men, swaddled in their desire, affection and easy love for one another, continues to disentangle something that’s been knotted up inside me for as long as I can remember. Asian men occupy a very specific idea in the Australian imagination – of being non-sexual, and therefore, undesirable – that we all inevitably internalise. The raw, unashamed sensuality of William’s imagery – of his unabashed desire for the men he captures, and the framing of Asian male beauty itself – is such a potent corrective. His images remind us that desire isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and that Asian men are desirable too.”

.
Benjamin Law. ‘Bearing witness in the church of William Yang’ 2021

 

“I was a photographer, which means that I was a voyeur.”

.
William Yang

 

“It was difficult to make ends meet as a playwright, so I became a photographer as a way of making money. I was attracted to the glamorous world. I wanted to be a part of it. One way of doing this, I thought, was to be a fashion photographer but i was terrible at it – I couldn’t cover up the flaws. I was better at covering parties and events.”

.
William Yang, 1993

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing at left, Stand Palm Beach (1981); at middle, The Pool at Bondi #3 (1987); and at right, Golden Summer (1987/2016, above)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Tamarama Lifesavers' 1981

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Tamarama Lifesavers
1981
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl
39 x 70cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen / Exhibition walk-through

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Life Lines #3 – Self portrait #2 (1947)' 1947/2008

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Life Lines #3 – Self portrait #2 (1947)
1947/2008
Photographer: Unknown
Inkjet print on Innova Softex paper, ed. 2/30
100 x 70cm
Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2010
Photo: Carl Warner Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Alter ego' 2001

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Alter ego
2001
Digital inkjet print on rag paper
68 x 88cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing the artist standing in front of his photograph Life Lines #11 – William in scholar’s costume (1984) (1984/2009, below)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Life Lines #11 – William in scholar's costume (1984)' 1984/2009

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Life Lines #11 – William in scholar’s costume (1984)
1984/2009
Inkjet print on Innova Softex paper, ed. 1/20
94.6 x 61.6cm
Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2010
Photo: Carl Warner Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Self Portrait #5' 2008

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Self Portrait #5
2008
Inkjet print on Innova Softex paper
42 x 65cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

An exhibition of more than 250 works by Australian photographer and performance artist William Yang opens at the Queensland Art Gallery from tomorrow until 22 August, 2021. William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen spans the artist’s five-decade career and is the first major survey of his work to be presented by an Australian state gallery.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Director Chris Saines said Seeing and Being Seen referred to the artist’s view of the world through the camera lens. ‘Yang captures people across all walks of life, including celebrity artists, alongside photographic explorations that throw light onto subcultures and marginalised groups, and he does not turn away from unsettling narratives or uncomfortable truths,’ Mr Saines said. ‘We are thrilled to be presenting this major exhibition encompassing every aspect of Yang’s practice and highlighting his life-long fascination with people and storytelling. We are also premiering his major new performance ‘In Search of Home’ at GOMA.’

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said QAGOMA continued to take a leading role in showcasing Queensland-born artists, such as William Yang.

‘William Yang is a noted writer, performer and visual artist with an international profile and this exhibition is an important survey of his work, celebrating inclusivity and diversity,’ Minister Enoch said. ‘The Queensland Government’s support for QAGOMA helps ensure the Gallery will continue its legacy of celebrating Queensland artists and sharing works that tell our stories.’

The exhibition includes Yang’s prolific social portraiture which features prominent creative identities from theatre, film, art and literature such as Patrick White, Brett Whiteley and Cate Blanchett, his revelatory insights into the LGBTIQ+ community, and insightful images of the Australian landscape. Seeing and Being Seen also includes early social photographs of Sydney’s arts scene as well as the artist’s long exploration of his family and childhood experience in North Queensland which interrogate and celebrate his Chinese-Australian identity.

Rosie Hays, Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA and curator of Seeing and Being Seen said Yang’s identity as a Chinese-Australian, a gay man and artist informs his marginalised experience.

‘While the stories and images included in the exhibition are quite specific to William’s life, the emotions underpinning them are instantly recognisable and acutely relatable,’ Ms Hays said. ‘There is confession and courage in William’s storytelling. His most well-known works are often deeply personal and represent the means by which he reckons with his past, his relationships, and his experience outside the mainstream.’

Born in North Queensland in 1943, Yang grew up with little knowledge of his Chinese heritage. Even though his parents were second-generation Chinese-Australian, Cantonese was not spoken at home. After coming to Brisbane in the mid-1960s to study architecture at the University of Queensland, he moved to Sydney in 1969, and has lived and worked there ever since.

A major hard-cover publication accompanying the exhibition features essays by William Yang, curator Rosie Hays, Professor Susan Best and Benjamin Law.

Press release from the GOMA website

 

 

 

William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen / Illustrated Curator’s Talk

Exhibition curator Rosie Hays (Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA) traces William Yang’s reflective and joyous career, delving deeper into the artworks and themes addressed in Seeing and Being Seen.

 

 

 

Artist William Yang’s slideshow performance with stories and eyewitness images from Sydney’s thrilling and turbulent gay scene from the 1970s until now.

Yang is one of Australia’s greatest storytellers, a prolific photographer and a performer of monologues with slide projections. His stories describe the experience of coming to terms with his identity as a gay Chinese Australian. Yang’s work presents a rich and celebratory visual record of this journey, from Gay Liberation in the seventies, to the emergence of the Mardi Gras and a gay subculture in the eighties, to AIDS in the nineties.

 

 

William Yang. Families and Fictions: Contemporary Photography from the Collection: Artist Talk, Queensland Art Gallery, 2005

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) '"Mother Standing" Brisbane' 1981

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
“Mother Standing” Brisbane
1981
Gelatin silver photographs, ed. 2/10
51.3 x 61.1cm
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant purchased 2004
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
© William Yang

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) '"Mother Standing" Brisbane' 1981

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
“Mother Standing” Brisbane (detail)
1981
Gelatin silver photographs, ed. 2/10
51.3 x 61.1cm
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant purchased 2004
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
© William Yang

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing photographs for Yang’s ‘About my mother’ portfolio

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Mother. Graceville. 1989' 1989

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Mother. Graceville. 1989
1989
From ‘About my mother’ portfolio 2003
Gelatin silver photograph ed. 2/10
51.3 x 61.1cm
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant purchased 2004
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery│Gallery of Modern Art
© William Yang

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation views of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing in the top image, Dawn, Central Australia #3; and in the bottom image at centre top, Doris Fish (1988, below)

 

William Yang. 'Doris Fish' 1988

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Doris Fish
1988
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'The morning after' 1976

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
The morning after
1976
Gelatin silver print
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

Morning sun raking through a window gently lights William Yang’s photograph of sleeping bodies and cast-off clothing, portraying ‘the morning after’ with the intimacy of the dawn. Yang photographed Sydney’s social scene of the 1970s and 80s, capturing wild times at discos, nightclubs and parties. Yang also captured the revellers at rest, photographing the supine forms of his naked lovers, night-clubbers passed out on city pavements and benches, and friends sharing makeshift beds on lounge-room floors.

Yang’s first solo exhibition in 1977, Sydneyphiles, was a frank depiction of the Sydney party scene and the emerging gay community. In their unposed realism, his photographs avoid any air of glamour, focusing instead on the unguarded moment and the spontaneous interactions between friends. The scrupulous honesty of his black-and-white documentary style is offset by his poignant and affectionate portrayals of those people and places familiar to him. His photographs are taken from the position of a participant in the worlds they depict, collectively describing the experience of coming to terms with his identity as a gay Chinese Australian. Yang’s visual stories are infused with a gently wry tone, mixing self-deprecating humour with insightful reflections on cultural identity. Here Yang has created images of the aftermath of intimate encounters, apparent in crumpled sheets and the shapes of sleeping bodies.

Text from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney website

 

William Yang. 'Synthetic Diamonds at Paddington Town Hall' 1977

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Synthetic Diamonds at Paddington Town Hall
1977
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Alpha' late 1960s

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Alpha
late 1960s
Gelatin silver photograph with fibre-tipped pen on fibre-based paper, ed. 6/10
26.7 x 40.2cm
Collection: The University of Queensland purchased 2001
© William Yang

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Ben Law. Arncliffe' 2016/2020

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Ben Law. Arncliffe
2016/2020
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag
30 x 50cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'The Story of Joe' 1979/2020

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
The Story of Joe
1979/2020
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag; single-channel video
Print: 40 x 60cm
Video: 16:9, 3:50 minutes, colour, sound; installed dimensions variable
Writer/Performer: William Yang; Director/Producer: Ben Latham Jones
Co-Director/ Co-Producer: Sophie Georgiou
Camera Operator/Editor: Dean Lever; Auslan
Consultant: Sue Jo Wright
Technical Assistant: Jack Okeby
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang. 'Bondi Beach' 1970s

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Bondi Beach
1970s
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang. 'Splashproof #1' 1994

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Splashproof #1
1994
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

William Yang, like many of his fellow Australian photographers, cannot help but be fascinated with the beach. In 1969, Yang left Brisbane for the bright lights of Sydney, and he fell in love with the city. At a distance from his family and Queensland’s conservatism, Sydney provided an opportunity for reinvention.

It was here that he combined his two photographic passions – landscape and people. Yang embraced the bleached allure of the city’s eastern beaches and took many iconic photographs of Bondi, Tamarama and Clovelly. …

Yang’s beach images present a refreshingly different framing of the typical Australian beach scene. The usual shots of bronzed female bodies or recreational pursuits take a backseat. Instead, Yang takes immense joy in the male figure, and his works represent a desirous male gaze on desirable male bodies.

The beach captured Yang’s eye from early in his career. At the time he started exploring the beach in his new Sydney home, Yang was also a jobbing social photographer, capturing celebrities and the ‘beautiful people’ behind the scenes at A-list parties for magazines. His approach to this work was in the photo-journalist style of capturing the unguarded moment.

Of his passion for taking images of the beach, Yang is a romantic at heart and has said:

“There’s an impulse in me that makes me go for the runny make-up, the unguarded moment, the Freudian slip. I mean I could photograph the plastic bags in the water, the rolls of fat, but the beach brings out the romantic in me. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of it – the space, the surf, the sand and all that flesh. I’ve never gotten beyond the obvious.”

Rosie Hays. “William Yang: The Beach,” on the QAGOMA website 17 June, 2021 [Online] Cited 10/08/2021

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Great Wave off Clovelly' 2005/2016

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Great Wave off Clovelly
2005/2016
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl
40 x 40cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang. 'Lifesaver Double' 1987/2017

 

William Yang (Born 1943, Mareeba, Qld Lives and works Sydney, NSW)
Lifesaver Double
1987/2017
Digital print
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Lifesavers #3' 1987

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Lifesavers #3
1987
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Fie Art Metallic Pearl
32 x 49.5cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

“A prolific documentary photographer, storyteller and performer, William Yang creates works that tell an intimate, autobiographical story. Yang draws on his extensive archive of images, memories and sensual experiences, showing the unique atmosphere of freedom that prevailed on Sydney beaches in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Taken around Bondi and Tamarama, Yang has captured the joy of an era and the beauty of the elements with humour and generosity. More than reminiscence or exposé, Yang’s images reveal sensitive connections and insightful reflections about cultural identity.”

.
Text from the ‘Under The Sun’ exhibition 2017

 

 

William Yang 'Checking Out Bondi' 1981/2017

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Checking Out Bondi
1981/2017
Digital print
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

The Power of Being Seen

William Yang’s work, intimate and considered, draws on the artist’s own lived experience. Yang’s personal stories inform his spoken-word performances and photography, and he often scribes these stories directly onto his photographic prints. Drawn to people, Yang’s work reveals unsettling narratives in his own life, in the lives of his subjects, and in society. Adept at uncovering the unvarnished beauty and hidden foibles of our lives, storytelling is intrinsic to his practice. The artist spoke with exhibition curator Rosie Hays.

Rosie Hays: Are there stories you feel must be told? What draws you to the stories you tell from your own life?

William Yang: I [was] brought up as an assimilated Australian. Neither my brother, Alan, or my sister, Frances, or I learned to speak Chinese. Partly because my father’s clan was the Hakka, so he spoke Hakka, whereas my mother’s clan was the See Yap, and she spoke Cantonese, so English was their common language and that was what we spoke at home. My mother could have taught us Cantonese as it was generally left up to her to do that sort of thing, but she never did. She thought being Chinese was a complete liability and wanted us to be more Australian than the Australians. So, the Chinese part of me was completely denied and unacknowledged until I was in my mid-30s and I became Taoist. It was through my engagement with Chinese philosophy that I embraced my Chinese heritage. People at the time called me Born Again Chinese, and that’s not a bad description as there was a certain zealousness to the process, but now I see it as a liberation from racial suppression, and I prefer to say I came out as a Chinese.

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Chinese New Year Party Year of the Rabbit' 1999

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Chinese New Year Party Year of the Rabbit
1999
Gelatin silver print
51 x 61.5cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

My first big success was my show ‘Sydneyphiles’ at the Australian Centre for Photography in 1977. It was mainly about my social life in Sydney, with portraits of people I had met. Besides my own set of artistic types (I knew Brett Whiteley, Martin Sharp, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson), I brushed with celebrities on the social rounds working for magazines. The exhibition caused a sensation. I knew then that people were my subject. I found that they wanted to see themselves on the gallery walls, they wanted representation. A compromising photo might cause annoyance, but it was better than being left out. There has always been an appetite for celebrities, well, that was to be expected. A vicarious interest in celebrity life still fuels the media. But I showed many photos of the emerging gay community as well. Australian photos of this type had not been shown in institutions before and it got a mixed reaction. Some said that these works shouldn’t be shown at a public institution, but mostly the pictures were accepted, especially by the gay community. A few were angry with me for outing them, but mostly I was hailed as a hero and was metaphorically given the keys to Oxford Street. I sensed that the mood of the gay community at the time was this: throughout history our community has been invisible. These photos may not be pretty, but we recognise them, and we accept them. We want our stories told.

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Four film directors' 1981

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Four film directors
1981
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
53 x 80cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Brett Whiteley, Martin Sharp, Wirian' 1982

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Brett Whiteley, Martin Sharp, Wirian
1982
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Party at the Whiteleys', Lavender Bay' 1982

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Party at the Whiteleys’, Lavender Bay
1982
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
65 x 110cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing at centre right, Brett Whiteley, Lavander Bay, Sydney (1975, below); and directly below this, Cate Blanchett: The star in her dressing room. After “Hedda Gabler.” Wharf Theatre. Sydney (2004, below)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Brett Whiteley, Lavender Bay, Sydney' 1975

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Brett Whiteley, Lavender Bay, Sydney
1975
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Cate Blanchett: The star in her dressing room. After "Hedda Gabler." Wharf Theatre. Sydney' 2004

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Cate Blanchett: The star in her dressing room. After “Hedda Gabler.” Wharf Theatre. Sydney
2004
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
54 x 80cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

These days I don’t take as many photographs. I’m sorting through my collection, trying to get it into some sort of order, and trying to digitise the negatives and the colour transparencies […]. I don’t want to be a photographer who dies leaving a pile of mouldy negatives for someone else to sort out […]. Every time I look through my collection, I am surprised because I have largely forgotten what happened in the past. Photography is a major aid to memory and the photographer a witness to the past. A photograph captures a moment in time. You don’t have to do anything special for this to happen, just press the shutter. There is something in the nature of the camera to freeze these moments in time, and there is something in the nature of the world to change and move on, so these moments never occur again.

In the early 1980s I started to do slide projection. It started off as a way to show my colour photography. At the time the colour printing process, Cibachrome, was expensive, and projection was a cheaper way showing my colour images. In 1980 in Adelaide, I met Ian de Gruchy, who did slide projection as his main art form. I was interested in his dissolve unit – a device using two projectors where the projected images dissolved into each other. Music was used, usually minimal music, and the result was known as an audio-visual. When one projects slides, as in a living room slide show, there is a tendency to talk with the slides, explaining them, and I started to do that. I worked with audio-visuals for seven years during the 80s until I had nine photographic essays, or short stories, to string together into a one man show. It was called ‘The Face of Buddha’ and I presented it at the Downstairs Belvoir Street Theatre in 1989. I lost money on that show, but still consider it a success. Everyone liked the form, story-telling with images and music.

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) "William Yang performing Sadness" Sydney 1992

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
“William Yang performing Sadness”
Sydney 1992
Photo: Peter Elfes (from ‘About my mother’ portfolio 2003)
Gelatin silver photograph, ed. 2/10 / 51.3 x 61.1cm
Purchased 2004
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
© William Yang

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Production still from Sadness' 1999

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Production still from Sadness
1999
Director: Tony Ayres
Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia and William Yang

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) ''Allan' from the monologue 'Sadness'' 1992

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
‘Allan’ from the monologue ‘Sadness’
1992
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

“Allan was a landmark for Yang and for Australian documentary photography. The combination of simple, unadorned portrait photos and diaristic, handwritten commentary made each viewer feel intimately acquainted with the subject. The step-by-step progress towards death puts us on the alert for every passing emotion in Allan’s face – he is sad, stoical, cheerful, grim, frivolous and heroic by turns. At the end of his life he has become an empty husk. It’s a devastating slice of reality smuggled into an art gallery, a piece that stops viewers in their tracks every time it’s shown.”

.
Extract from John McDonald. “Devastating and intimate: the landmark photos that stop viewers in their tracks,” on the Sydney Morning Herald website April 1, 2021 [Online] Cited 09/08/2021

 

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) ''Allan' from the monologue 'Sadness'' 1992

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
‘Allan’ from the monologue ‘Sadness’
1992
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

The most popular story was called ‘About My Mother’. I told the story about my mother’s family, how they came to Australia in the 1880s from Guang Dong province in China. My mother’s sister, my Aunt Bessie, married a rich landowner, William Fang Yuen, who was murdered by the white manager on his cane farm at Marilyan in north Queensland in 1922. I got an Australia Council grant to do my third performance piece, ‘Sadness’, in 1992. There were two themes: the first involved the AIDS pandemic in Sydney where many gay men, some of them my friends, were dying; and the second was a trip I took to north Queensland to talk to my relatives about William Fang Yuen’s murder. The two themes formed a powerful story about death and legacy. It was an immediate hit and toured Australia and the world. International entrepreneurs wanted my performance pieces, which they considered unique, not my exhibitions, so I kept doing more performance pieces and they became my main artistic expression.

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'William in Cane Fields' 2008

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
William in Cane Fields
2008
From ‘My uncle’s murder’ portfolio 2008
Inkjet print on Innova Softex paper
59 x 91cm
© William Yang
Photograph: Jenni Carter
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Self Portrait, Listening' 2017

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Self Portrait, Listening
2017
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag
38 x 60cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

The performance pieces changed my photographic practice. Before the 1990s, I made my living from freelance work. I would do whatever jobs people would pay me money to do. Then I found I could make a living doing my performance pieces, so I didn’t have to work for other people. I was able to channel all my energy into my own work and I became more productive. My performance pieces were about stories and I realised that many of my photos had stories behind them. I started writing the text directly onto the photo with a pen. My first series was about men with whom I had had encounters. All those photos had good stories. I have continued to do written works, as I call them, and the pictures with my handwriting have become the signifier of my work. Now I often choose images because they have a story.

Rosie Hays: Do you ever feel you’re telling other people’s stories, or are they your stories that happen to intersect with other people?

William Yang: When I ran out of my own stories, I wanted to tell an Aboriginal story because I felt the Chinese and the Aboriginal people had something in common: both had suffered under British colonialism. In my commissioned piece ‘Shadows’, I tried to tell an Aboriginal story about a community in Enngonia in north-western New South Wales, and it was successful in that I made myself part of the story, but I felt a little uncomfortable telling their story. Later I found someone, Noeline Briggs-Smith, who could tell her own story, and we did a story-telling duet on stage [called] ‘Meeting at Moree’, where we told alternating chapters of our stories on stage. She […] had a much stronger story than me. She had suffered more and worse injustices than I had, but there were interesting intersections in our stories.

Rosie Hays: Something we highlight in the exhibition is your connection to landscape. How would you describe your relationship to nature / the landscape, and has it changed over time?

William Yang: Most photographers have a go at nature. Everyone has photographed a sunset. I had my first serious encounter with photographing nature when I was recovering from a bad case of hepatitis at Frogs Hollow, Maleny, in 1979. I felt fragile from the illness and taking photos made me feel I could still do things. Looking at the photos now, the pictures are a beginner’s view. That’s the thing about nature: it’s been done a billion times before, and it’s difficult [to] escape cliché, but I had to start somewhere and I got a few good ones.

When I became Taoist, I took on a whole new philosophy. I came to appreciate nature, in the form of landscape, as a source and a driving force behind everything that exists. It was constantly changing and renewing itself. Everything about nature was beautiful because it was essentially always itself. I found I could apply a concept of beauty to nature, at least compared to the human nature I was photographing at the time. Later I began to see nature as a titanic struggle for survival […].

I came to realise that the landscape which moved me the most was the country around Dimbulah in north Queensland (on the Atherton Tableland), where I had grown up. It was part of my identity, part of my idea of home. I had absorbed it, it had imprinted itself upon me, and, although I did not realise it at the time – this was before I had articulated an artistic consciousness – it was there in my consciousness and I could draw upon it. So, in the early 90s, I made several trips up to Dimbulah, checking out the country that I remembered from my childhood. Nothing quite fitted my memories, but perhaps that’s a thing about childhood and memory. Nevertheless, I photographed a series on a medium format camera, trying to recapture memories. Now I enjoy returning to Dimbulah and seeing the landscape. It still triggers off emotions, but I feel they have become more distant. This text is from my print William at Thornborough, 2006:

“I have left these places and I have changed. These places still hold me but I move around these hills like a ghost. It is the motherland which formed and nourished me, from where I came, but to which I can never return.”

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Climbing Huang Shan' 2005

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Climbing Huang Shan
2005
Inkjet print on Innova Softex paper
41 x 48cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing Return to the place of childhood. Dimbulah (2016, below)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Boranup Karri Forest #1' 2018

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Boranup Karri Forest #1
2018
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag
50 x 150cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Return to the place of childhood. Dimbulah' 2016

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Return to the place of childhood. Dimbulah
2016
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag
50 x 150cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Installation view of the exhibition 'William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

 

Installation views of the exhibition William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showing at lower left, Boranup Karri Forest #1 (2018, above)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Earth Below, Heaven Above' 2020 (still)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Earth Below, Heaven Above (still)
2020
Two-channel video, 16:9, 5:36 minutes, colour, sound
Editor: Jack Okeby
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

Rosie Hays: What are your aspirations as an artist? What is the aim for your work in the larger sense?

William Yang: Two of my most important realisations were, firstly, that I was not white but Chinese, and secondly, that I was not straight, but gay. I probably realised these at an early age, but it took me a long time to articulate the condition and to come to terms with it. Personally, I suffered more pain being a closeted gay than being Chinese. These are both big themes in my work. When I started including gay work in my exhibitions, some photographers told me it [was] a phase I was going through and I’d be better off dealing with universal issues. They were right, in a way, because by continuing to deal with marginalised issues, my audience base is much smaller. I would probably have made more money sticking with celebrity lives and continuing the status quo, but it is important for me to talk about being gay and to talk about racial difference, even if they are commercially unpopular subjects. Nowadays, there is more acceptance of being gay here in Australia, and likewise, there is more awareness of racial difference, but in the wider world this is not always the case. It is a cause worth pursuing, and documentary photography with a personal story thrown in is a good way of doing it. I want to acknowledge the activists around the world that have made social change happen.

I want my work to embrace my life. I’ve managed to live to a mature age – I was fortunate not to die young as many of my colleagues did during the AIDS pandemic. One lives a life, and I am not the same person as I was when I was younger. Then I had more energy, had more opinions, some of them obnoxious – in short, I had many of the traits of a young person that old people like to complain about. But one learns from life, and I have lived to this age and can see there is a shape to one’s life. It has to do with the things you believe in and the choices you make (I always knew being an artist would be a hard road), it is shaped by external forces beyond your control, and it is also shaped by luck. Still, I consider my life a fortunate one.

I think I like stories because they are about people and the world. They somehow embrace humanity. I would like my art to convey feelings, emotions, what it is like to be a sentient human: experiencing joy, laughter and sadness, to realise we are vulnerable, that we have our failings, we do bad things, but we are capable of forgiveness, kindness and love.

Rosie Hays is Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA She spoke with the artist in 2020.

This is an edited excerpt of the original interview, which appears in the exhibition publication William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen, available at the QAGOMA Store

 

William Yang. 'Deposition. Innisfail Court House. 1922' 1990

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Deposition. Innisfail Court House. 1922
1990
From ‘About my mother’ portfolio 2003
Gelatin silver photograph on paper
51.3 x 61.1cm (comp.)
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art purchased 2004
© William Yang

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Self portrait #1' 1992, printed 2013

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Self portrait #1
1992, printed 2013
Inkjet print on paper
87 x 119cm (comp.)
Gallery of Modern Art Foundation Grant
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art purchase 2013
© William Yang

 

 

William Yang Self portrait #1 / A Director’s Perspective

Join QAGOMA Director Chris Saines CNZM as he discusses William Yang’s Self portrait #1 1992 (printed 2013)

 

 

William Yang’s work, intimate and considered, draws on the artist’s own lived experience. Yang’s personal stories inform his spoken-word performances and photography, and he often scribes these stories directly onto his photographic prints. Drawn to people, Yang’s work reveals unsettling narratives in his own life, in the lives of his subjects, and in society. Adept at uncovering the unvarnished beauty and hidden foibles of our lives, storytelling is intrinsic to his practice.

 

Self Portrait #1

Yang’s unflinching photographic gaze draws from the documentary tradition. Since the 1980s, Yang has displayed an unyielding persistence in unearthing stories that society, or even his subjects, might prefer to remain hidden. His instinct and passion is to present the whole, flawed story, not just the glossy surface.

With stories such as his uncle’s murder, Yang courts his family’s disapproval by airing hidden family stories, balancing potential indiscretions with the importance of telling real stories that reveal experiences or communities often left out of public discourse.

In the mid 1980s, Yang met Yensoon Tsai, a young Taiwanese woman who would become a close friend. Tsai taught Yang the tenets of the Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which led him to explore his Chinese-Australian identity.

Throughout the late 1980s and 90s in Australia, multicultural stories emerged across various art forms. Yang was part of this wave of artists rejecting a suppression of their cultural histories, and who instead wanted to highlight and celebrate diversity. Yang travelled throughout regional and urban Australia documenting the lives of Chinese-Australians, and the landscapes reflecting the legacy of the Chinese in Australia, such as religious shrines and mining sites.

Self Portrait #1 is a landscape work (in the way Yang talks about landscape which is often rooted in people and place and memory) as much as it a portrait work. Capturing the landscape is part of Yang’s somewhat diaristic approach to processing his social and physical environment.

When Yang returns to the Queensland landscape from his childhood, he characterises it as a site to escape from. He needed to escape from racist school bullying, constrictive family expectations, and the dread that his sexuality may be met with disapproval. Yang revisits his childhood home regularly, and some of his most potent performances and photographs come from connecting family and place. The series ‘My Uncle’s Murder’ – and its recounting of an injustice borne of racism dating from 1922 – resulted from such a trip. In his later works, he makes an uneasy peace with these past experiences that are embedded in the landscape of his youth.

Rosie Hays. “William Yang’s work reveals unsettling narratives in his own life,” on the QAGOMA website 4 October, 2020 [Online] Cited 10/08/2021

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Waiting for the Parade to Start' 2019

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Waiting for the Parade to Start
2019
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
56.5 x 85cm
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Jac Vidgen and Akira Isogawa, Sweatbox Party' 1989

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Jac Vidgen and Akira Isogawa, Sweatbox Party
1989
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Patrick White #1, living room, Martin Road' 1988

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Patrick White #1, living room, Martin Road
1988
Gelatin silver photograph, ed. 2/10
45.6 x 36.4cm
Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant purchased 1998
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'My Generation (Brett Whiteley)' 1975 (detail)

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
My Generation (Brett Whiteley) (detail)
1975
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

 

My Generation

Queensland-born, Sydney-based artist William Yang describes a moment in Sydney when a number of creative groups came together to generate an artistic wave that swept across Australian society.

The intersections of the tight literary circle of Nobel award winner Patrick White and his partner, Manoly Lascaris, with the theatrical circle, their friends Jim Sharman and actress Kate Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, in turn, models frocks in the exuberant fashion parades organised by designers Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee, while artists Peter Tully and David McDiarmid extend the tongue-in-cheek Australiana of the two fashionistas’ outfits with witty accessories. Their parades and parties at retail outlet Flamingo Park, a magnet for influential people in business, politics and the arts, determined the look of the 1970s and early 1980s. Tully and McDiarmid used their bravura visuals to jump start the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, giving the event its unique and unforgettable style. The pair lived out a parallel lifestyle that might epitomise the Australian story of gay liberation, with its heady rush unfolding into aching tragedy.

Golden couple Brett and Wendy Whiteley enjoyed the creative atmosphere of the swinging ’60s and the plunge into a riotous world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Yang shows Brett painting, smoking and partying with the beautiful people, and his eventual deterioration as heroin took a fearful hold. The early death of their beautiful daughter, Arkie, was another aspect of this fated family history. Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee eventually split; Kee takes Danton Hughes, the son of Robert Hughes, as a lover; Danton suicides; Kee takes up Buddhism. Yang portrays lives that unfold, flower or wither: lives lived.

Yang’s generation is not life as reported in the newspapers but ‘as I saw it’: a personal account summed up as a litany of parties, of innocence lost and worldliness gained, a continuum of his search for contact and meaning. Like his contemporaries Rennie Ellis or Michael Rosen, William Yang is a social photographer, a recorder of life. His strength lies in creating a living testament, and his medium’s strength is that it is necessarily shared. He offers no moral tale, nor any notion of karma to underscore the events: just the three basic but vital stories – birth, love and death.

Extract from Michael Desmond. “William Yang: My Generation,” in Artlines 1-2009 in “William Yang: Portraits,” on the QAGOMA website 22 September, 2017 [Online] Cited 10/08/2021.

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'David Gulpilil' 1978

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
David Gulpilil
1978
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee' 1979

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943)
Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee
1979
Inkjet print on solid substrate Kapaplast
© William Yang
Courtesy: The artist