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Jamie Bradbeer

(Australia 1948 – )

Wife's back
Media category
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph

24.0 x 18.8 cm image; 25.4 x 20.3 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r. verso, pencil "Jamie Bradbeer". Dated u.l. verso, pencil "...(1980)".
Purchased 1981
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

This image is from a series of four which also feature the photographer, his father and baby. While Jamie Bradbeer’s work is comprised largely of images of family members, it is, however, far from ordinary family portraits. His photographs suggest the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of family relationships. His inclusion as a subject in the series highlights the personalised nature of the work and, viewed together, they suggest emotional relations between the family members. Taken within intimate range Bradbeer communicates the potency and essence of his subjects and his relation to them in a single image. Using a double-development process similar to solarisation, Bradbeer transforms the everyday appearance of his family. The process which he uses causes tonal reversals to occur in shadow areas with often unexpected and magical results. He uses this manipulation technique for emotive and personal effect, as is evident in the image ‘Wife’s back’. The flattened image heightens the viewer’s sense of proximity to the subject, yet there is a tension in this closeness as the subject remains essentially closed off, back turned. Involved in the intimate exchange, the viewer is left to read the woman’s back for further insight as if participating in the relationship. There is a stoic, meditative quality to Bradbeer’s images, yet his sensitive use of process has imbued his subjects with an electric resonance both graphic and emotionally powerful.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Bibliography (2)

Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Magical realism', pg.226-245, Sydney, 2007, 236 (illus.).

Gael Newton, Re-constructed Vision: Contemporary work with photography, Sydney, 1981. 3

Exhibition history (3)

Project 38- Re-constructed Vision, Contemporary work with photography (1981), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Jul 1981–23 Aug 1981

Contemporary Photography from the Collection (1984), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Jun 1984–12 Aug 1984

We Are Family, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1994–20 Nov 1994