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Australian vernacular photography

Left to right: Gerrit Fokkema Blacktown man 1983, gelatin silver photograph, 30.6 × 40.6 cm, purchased 1986 © Gerrit Fokkema; Glenn Sloggett Empty 1996 from the series Cheaper & Deeper, type C photograph, 80 × 79.9 cm, gift of Amanda Love 2011, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program © Glenn Sloggett

In the Australian Photography Annual of 1947, photographer and director of the Art Gallery of NSW Hal Missingham wrote: ‘In a country supposedly occupied by people indulging in a vigorous outdoor life, where are the [photographic] records of beach and sport… where are the photographs of the four millions of people who live and work in our cities? What are they like – what do they do – what do they wear, and think?’

The family of man exhibition toured Australia in 1959 and was enormously influential, with its themes of birth, love and death common to all humanity. However, possibilities for Australian photographers to be noticed were rare until the 1970s due to the lack of institutional support. Nonetheless, photographers from David Moore and Robert McFarlane to the young Sue Ford forged on, trying to find their own vision of Australian life and how it could be represented photographically.

This exhibition looks at some of the photographers from then as well as those working more recently – such as Anne Zahalka, Trent Parke and Glenn Sloggett – to consider their various approaches to the depiction of modern Australian life.

8 Feb – 18 May 2014

Free admission

Photography gallery