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The Boney twins at Doreen McHughes wedding, Brewarrina, from the series Brewarrina

printed 1991


Sandy Edwards

New Zealand, Australia

1948 -


In the hands of Sandy Edwards, photo-documentary is both deeply personal and clearly political. Her work, including her portraiture, is based on close observation, made possible by the development of trust between the photographer and her subject. Of this, she has said: ‘The role of a documentary photographer is a difficult one … For me it is necessary to have some degree of intimacy with the person I am photographing.’1

Edwards is an engaged practitioner and has written in substantial ways about her practice, its development and context, and the role of photo-documentary. She has consistently brought a level of social awareness to her work with a particular commitment to the representation of women fostered by her involvement with the Women’s Art Movement and the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op in the 1970s. Edwards has worked as a freelance photographer since 1977 and was involved in such commissions as the CSR Photography Project in 1978, where her sequences are evocative of a range of social issues, including the monotony of women’s work and the challenges of cultural difference in the workplace. She was also involved in the ‘After 200 years’ project in 1988, where she worked with the Aboriginal people in Brewarrina, New South Wales, on a representation of their community and culture. ‘The Boney twins at Doreen McHughes wedding, Brewarrina’, compelling in its capture of the dynamic of an extended family gathering, is from this series. Edwards has described these photographs as ‘mostly a form of informal portraiture … [documenting] the strong family life and other social connections apparent through the Brewarrina community … [combined with] other more political issues.’2

1. Edwards S 2000, ‘Peer pressure: practising politics in the 1970s’, in McDonald E & Annear J eds, ‘What is this thing called photography?: Australian photography 1975–1985’, Pluto Press, Sydney pp 37–47
2. Edwards S 1994, ‘Photographing the Aboriginal community in Brewarrina’, in Phillips S ed, ‘Racism, representation and photography’, Inner City Education Centre Cooperative, Sydney p 100

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



printed 1991

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


26.7 x 39.4 cm image; 40.8 x 50.3 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. verso, pencil "... 1986/ Sandy Edwards 1991".


Purchased with funds provided by the J.S. Watkins Memorial Fund 1991


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sandy Edwards

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Judy Annear, Points of view: Australian photography 1985-95, Sydney, 2005, (illus.). no catalogue numbers

Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - people', pg.246-265, Sydney, 2007, 252, 259 (illus.).