Photos of a nation evolving on display at QAG

Unknown Australia / Queensland natives c.1890s / Albumen photograph on paper / Purchased 2003. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

The history of Australian photography will be celebrated when the Gallery plays hosts to ‘The Photograph and Australia’, the largest exhibition of its type since 1988, from 4 July to 11 October 2015.

QAGOMA Deputy Director, Collection and Exhibitions, Maud Page said that as the Gallery was the only venue to host the exhibition outside of New South Wales, the exhibition was a rare opportunity to see photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, displayed in an art gallery setting.

‘Curated from a contemporary perspective by Judy Annear, Senior Curator, Photographs, Art Gallery of NSW, ‘The Photograph and Australia’ represents the latest thinking on photography and its connection to people, place, culture, and history. It explores how photography played a crucial role in the development of our understanding of Australia as a place and Australians as a people.

‘Drawn from more than 35 private and public collection across Australia, England and New Zealand, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Queensland Museum and our very own, the exhibition features over 600 works by more than 120 artists from two centuries, including Queenslander Tracey Moffatt and others.’

Other photographers include, Richard Daintree, Charles Bayliss, Harold Cazneaux, Olive Cotton, Max Dupain, David Moore, Carol Jerrems, Robyn Stacey, Sue Ford, Ricky Maynard, Anne Ferran and Mervyn Bishop.

Michael Hawker, QAGOMA’s Associate Curator of Australian Art said the exhibition would share some beautiful early examples of photography by Queensland artists and was a chance for visitors to reconnect with the sense of wonder photography can still elicit today.

‘In such an image saturated world, ‘The Photograph and Australia’ traces the origins of the medium from the very beginning and how it was used to manufacture and project early images of Australia.

‘There are many examples of fine portraiture in the exhibition, including the remarkable 1914 photograph taken by Frank Hurley, a successful photographer and adventurer, of himself knee-deep in the Albert River in North West Queensland.

Works from our collection in the exhibition include a haunting, colonial-era image, Queensland Natives c.1890s, by an unknown photographer. The work is indicative of early studio-style portraits, showing the important role photography played in not just recording places and events but also people.’

Tickets for ‘The Photograph and Australia’ are on sale now. Adults $12, Concession $10 and Members $9. Bookings fees apply to all tickets booked in advance.

Across the opening weekend of the exhibition, the Gallery will host a rich program of events, including an exhibition introduction and tour with Judy Annear, Senior Curator, Photographs, AGNSW, and Michael Hawker, and talks with exhibiting artists Patrick Pound and Rowan McNaught.

Sunday 5 July sees the first in a series of monthly ‘Beyond the Lens’ floor talks with Michael Aird, ‘The Photograph and Australia’ publication contributor and freelance curator, researcher and writer.

An Art Gallery of New South Wales touring exhibition