We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Photography talks

Curators, artists and art historians delve into photographic works in the Gallery's Collection.

Isobel Parker Philip – the Gallery’s assistant curator, photographs – considers the depiction of the female subject through the works of four contemporary female photographers in the ‘Loud’ exhibition. Through powerful photographic constructions, these artists play on gender stereotypes and question traditional tropes of femininity.

Image: Miwa Yanagi Yuka 2000 from the series ‘My grandmothers’, type C photograph, 160 × 160 cm, purchased with funds provided by Geoff Ainsworth AM 2014 © Miwa Yanagi.

One of Australia’s leading contemporary art specialists, Julie Ewington is an independent writer, curator and broadcaster. She has held positions at Queensland Art Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art and for many years has taught art history in Australian universities. She is also a long-time champion for gender equality in the Australian art world. Julie reflects on Laing’s photographic practice and of its importance within the Australian art scene.

Image: Rosemary Laing greenwork TL #8 1995, type C photograph, 100 × 100 cm, anonymous gift 2004 © Rosemary Laing

Hear artist Rosemary Laing reflect on her 1995 series ‘greenwork’ and 1996-97 series ‘brownwork’. Rosemary was joined by Donna West Brett from the Power Institute for Art and Visual Culture, The University of Sydney.

Image: Rosemary Laing greenwork TL #8 1995, type C photograph, 100 × 100 cm, anonymous gift 2004 © Rosemary Laing

Judy Annear is the senior curator, photographs at the Art Gallery and curator of Tracey Moffatt: Laudanum and other works, an exhibition that examines key aspects of Moffatt’s practice. She discusses her selection of work for this show, whilst tracing the artist’s knowledge of film, photography, popular culture, colonial history and literature.

William Yang was born in North Queensland. He moved to Sydney in 1969 and worked as a freelance photographer documenting Sydney’s social life, which included the glamorous, celebrity set and the hedonistic, subcultural, gay community. In 1989 he began to perform monologues with slide projection in the theatre and this has become the main expression of his work. Tony Ayres made his most successful piece, Sadness 1996, into an award-winning film in 1999. William’s current work is photo based, doing performances in theatres and exhibitions in galleries. He speaks about his practice, including his work in Body parts.

Image: William Yang speaking to the audience inside the Art Gallery with a screen displaying his works.

Judy Annear is curator of Body parts, which examines how photography has changed the way we view the human form. She discussed her thinking around the selection of works for the exhibition and the ideas that can be teased out from the works themselves.

Image: Max Dupain Spontaneous composition 1935, gelatin silver photograph, 40.3 × 39.8 cm, purchased 1982 © Estate of Max Dupain, licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.

Andrew Hazewinkel is an artist whose practice is situated at the intersection of photography and sculpture. His abiding interest in ancient material culture (specifically ancient figurative sculpture) and contemporary conceptions of the copy form the framework though which he examines the complex associations between history, memory, materials and the body, as well as the implications of reproduction methodologies on our understanding of recordings of time.

In this talk, Hazewinkel discussed the evolving social meaning of sculptural copy (the cast) before and at the emergence of photographic thinking and practice, and how these seemingly oppositional disciplines became and remain inextricably linked.

Image: Ingeborg Tyssen Balmain, Sydney 1 1981, gelatin silver photograph, 25.9 × 25.9 cm, Art Gallery of NSW, Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989 © Ingeborg Tyssen. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.

Isobel Parker Philip is the curator of Imprint. In this talk, she unpacks the relationship between photography and the sculptural cast, proposing that the two mediums share a symbolic lineage and are produced by parallel gestures. Discussing the exhibition, she investigates the complex network of echoes and trace impressions that each work unravels.

Image: Ingeborg Tyssen Balmain, Sydney 1 1981, gelatin silver photograph, 25.9 × 25.9 cm, Art Gallery of NSW, Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989 © Ingeborg Tyssen. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney

Isobel Parker Philip is assistant curator, photographs at the Art Gallery of NSW. In this talk, she addresses the cinematic references that appear in the works on display in the exhibition Tracey Moffatt: Laudanum and other works and discusses the ways Moffatt references particular films as well as the overall aesthetic and thematic influence of film in her work.

Hold still deconstructs the gestures we habitually adopt while looking into a lens and proposes that the instant of capture is itself a performance. Attentive to the way the camera serves as a silent choreographer – dictating our movements – the exhibition presents incisive commentary about the way photography pervades contemporary life.

Drawn from the Gallery’s collection, it features artists who exploit and exaggerate the posture (or imposture) of the portrait sitter, including works by Taryn Simon, Darren Sylvester, Anne Ferran, Cherine Fahd, Max Dupain and Harold Cazneaux alongside those produced by commercial photographers in the late 19th century.

Image: Still from Taryn Simon Cutaways 2012 © Taryn Simon

Isobel Parker Philip, the Gallery’s assistant curator of photographs and curator of New matter, introduces the exhibition and discusses the way each artist expands the limits of photographic representation.

Emphasising the material properties of the photograph over its ability to transcribe a scene with exacting and documentary precision, the work in the show poses the question: what are we looking at when we look at a photograph? Isobel addresses the nuances and complexities of this question and trace connective threads between each artist’s practice.

Experimenting with the surface and material composition of the photographic image, Deb Mansfield challenges our expectations of what a photograph is. Her photo tapestries achieve this feat by embracing unconventional printing techniques and converting the image into a textile.

Deb joined us at Art After Hours to discuss the themes and processes behind her work (Swinging) I am trying to quieten my love for you 2015 on display in the exhibition.

Through his artistic practice, Luke Parker attempts to reconcile and navigate the overwhelming proliferation of images that was precipitated by the development of photo-mechanical reproduction 100 years ago and has exponentially increased in the digital age. Working with collage, he combines his own photographs with found objects and images he has collected over the last 20 years. Luke joined us at Art After Hours to discuss the themes and processes behind his work Entrance to the underworld 2014 on display in the exhibition.

Cherine Fahd’s work broadly explores the relationship between bodies and sculpture, often to surreal effect. Since the late 1990s, Cherine’s trajectory has moved from simple portraits of her family wearing fabricated plaster creations, to street shots where the subject is unaware of being photographed and, more recently, various forms of self-portraiture. In all guises, she employs some way of ‘sculpting’ the body for the camera.

Cherine joined us at Art After Hours to discuss the themes and processes behind her work Plinth piece, study for woman bitten by a snake 2014 on display in the exhibition.

Todd McMillan’s artistic practice, encompassing video and photographic works, could be loosely described as an extended portrait of a figure alone against the world, a role often embodied by Todd himself. Integrating themes derived from Romantic literature and existential philosophy into his work, McMillan weaves poetic narratives of failure and endurance. The solemnity of his thematic preoccupations, specifically his fixation on the concept of the sublime, is often offset by a self-effacing sense of humour.

Todd joins us at Art After Hours to discuss the themes and processes behind his work Self portrait (Bayard study i) 2013 on display in the exhibition.

Hear from four distinctive Australian literary voices including Charlotte Wood, Hannah Donnelly, Khalid Warsame and Vanessa Berry, presenting newly commissioned work that offers a fresh perspective on the medium of photography.

Given exclusive access to the Art Gallery’s Collection, each writer has chosen a work to respond to, playing with our associations with truth, objectivity and ubiquity in the 21st century. These intimate readings will be followed by a panel with the writers, chaired by curator, photographs Isobel Parker Philip.

To create this retrospective of Mervyn Bishop’s work, the Gallery’s assistant curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Coby Edgar, and archivist of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Shari Lett, delved into the Gallery’s rich archives and extensive collection of photographs. Join them as they reflect on their discoveries and the extraordinary impact of Bishop’s images.

Image: Mervyn Bishop, Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina 1966, printed 2008, gelatin silver photograph © Mervyn Bishop

Emmaline Zanelli is an emerging artist based in Adelaide, South Australia, who has been actively exhibiting since 2010. Emmaline joins us to reflect on Pat Brassington’s work through her own practice.

Image: Pat Brassington Drink me 1997, printed 2002, inkjet print, © Pat Brassington

Isobel Parker Philip, the Gallery’s acting curator of photographs and curator of the exhibition, will discuss Pat Brassington’s use of visceral imagery and unpack the artist’s ongoing fascination with the body in all its elasticity.

Image: Pat Brassington Drink me 1997, printed 2002, inkjet print, © Pat Brassington

Dr Astrid Lorange is a writer, teacher and editor from Sydney. She lecturers in Art Theory at UNSW Art and Design. She has published poetry, essays, criticism and art writing internationally and locally – including How reading is written: a brief index to Gertrude Stein – and her current research focuses on contemporary writing practices in and around art. She is one-half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate and the curator of the occasional talk series Conspiracy.

Image: Pat Brassington Drink me 1997, printed 2002, inkjet print, © Pat Brassington

Dr Kyla McFarlane is curator academic programs (research) at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne. Previously she was acting curatorial manager of Australian art at Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and held key curatorial positions at the Centre for Contemporary Photography and Monash University Museum of Art, both in Melbourne. She has a PhD in visual culture from Monash University, focusing on the relationship between photography, feminism and psychoanalysis, which features a discussion of the work of Pat Brassington. In this talk, she will focus on selected works in the exhibition, delving into the psychological and uncanny terrain of this artist’s practice and tracing her recurring motifs, conceptual shifts and influences.

Image: Pat Brassington Drink me 1997, printed 2002, inkjet print, © Pat Brassington

From 2005-06 William Yang worked with fellow photographer Mervyn Bishop to create Flash Blak, a performance biography of Bishop’s life and work. Together they travelled to many places from Bishop’s past, including Brewarrina, Coonamble and Dubbo, to present this unique work. In his talk, William Yang reflects on how this journey gave him greater understanding not only of Bishop’s work, but also of contemporary Aboriginal culture.

Image: Mervyn Bishop, Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina 1966, printed 2008, gelatin silver photograph © Mervyn Bishop

Contemporary photographer Peter Yanada McKenzie exposes a unique side of the Sydney community with his personal and moving images. Throughout his career, McKenzie, an Eora/Anaiwan man, has documented local characters, landscape, events and activities. Peter McKenzie, like Mervyn Bishop and other Aboriginal documentary photographers, represents a groundbreaking new wave of self-representation, bringing an insider’s understanding of Aboriginal life. In this talk, McKenzie reflects on trailblazer Mervyn Bishop in this solo exhibition.

Image: Mervyn Bishop, Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina 1966, printed 2008, gelatin silver photograph © Mervyn Bishop

  • 01
    Isobel Parker Philip on 'Loud!'
    19 minutes
  • 02
    Julie Ewington on 'Rosemary Laing: transportation'
    21 minutes
  • 03
    Rosemary Laing and Donna West Brett on 'Rosemary Laing: transportation'
    36 minutes
  • 04
    Judy Annear on 'Tracey Moffatt: Laudanum and other works'
    23 minutes
  • 05
    William Yang on 'Body parts'
    44 minutes
  • 06
    Judy Annear on 'Body parts'
    22 minutes
  • 07
    Andrew Hazewinkel on 'Imprint'
    35 minutes
  • 08
    Isobel Parker Philip on 'Imprint'
    23 minutes
  • 09
    Isobel Parker Phillip on 'Tracey Moffatt: Laudanum and other works'
    23 minutes
  • 10
    Isobel Parker Philip on 'Hold still'
    24 minutes
  • 11
    Isobel Parker Philip, assistant curator of photographs and curator of 'New matter'
  • 12
    Deb Mansfield, artist
    32 minutes
  • 13
    Luke Parker, artist
    20 minutes
  • 14
    Cherine Fahd, artist
    10 minutes
  • 15
    Todd McMillan, artist
    25 minutes
  • 16
    Exposed: confronting photography through new Australian writing
    97 minutes
  • 17
    Coby Edgar and Shari Lett
    24 minutes
  • 18
    Emmaline Zanelli on Pat Brassington
    19 minutes
  • 19
    Isobel Parker Philip on Pat Brassington
    27 minutes
  • 20
    Dr Astrid Lorange
    17 minutes
  • 21
    Dr Kyla McFarlane
    31 minutes
  • 22
    William Yang on Mervyn Bishop
    31 minutes
  • 23
    Peter Yanada McKenzie
    7 minutes