The Gallery’s senior curator of photographs, Judy Annear, has said of the exhibition: ‘Audiences are invited to experience the breadth of Australian photography, past and present, and the sense of wonder the photograph can still induce through its ability to capture both things of the world and the imagination.’ Using your own words, describe what she might mean by ‘the sense of wonder the photograph can induce’.
What choices and decisions has the curator made in relation to the selection of photographs for this exhibition? Imagine you were asked to curate an exhibition entitled ‘The photograph and Australia’. How would you go about doing this? What works would you include and why?
Has photography played a role in forming ideas of what Australia was, is and might be? How do you define Australia today? Debate in class the proposition: Photography invented modern Australia.
Choosing specific examples in the exhibition, explain how photography has been used to document the process of colonisation, including the expansion of colonial towns, the exploitation of gold and wool and the construction of railways, post offices and telegraph lines. Do the images reflect the impact of these developments on the Australian economy and society; and if so, how?
What is the particular power of photography? How does it differ from other art forms? Is one medium more 'authentic’ than another? Debate whether photography is better placed than others to represent the identity and character of a place, a people, an experience, a moment in time.
Research various photographic techniques in this exhibition, such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, stereographs, tintypes and paper photographs. How do they compare with digital techniques? Collect examples of historical and contemporary photographs and discuss the challenges that photographers may have faced in their era.