Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art


View More:


Jon Rhodes’s interest in photography was encouraged from an early age. He trained as a photographer before moving into documentary cinematography for Film Australia, working in Australia, Papua New Guinea and India, leaving in 1977 to concentrate on still photography. He continued to travel, including regular visits to the Gibson Desert in the Northern Territory.

Rhodes’s work emphasises the physicality of place and has consistently involved themes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship to land. Rhodes has worked with many Aboriginal communities, resulting in exhibitions and publications with the community. ‘Kundat Jaru mob’ 1990 and ‘Whichaway?’ which toured Australia from 1998 to 2002 are two such examples. Rhodes’s working method features the use of the photographic sequence as a loose narrative device and as a means of conveying a sense of movement, change and the passing of time. He has also often compiled series into book form. ‘Australia’, from which the image of the Western Desert artist John Tjakamarra is drawn, presents a resonant view of the Australian landscape and its people. While observing the predominance of the ‘decisive moment’ as a mode in documentary photography in Australia in the 1970s, photographer Sandy Edwards has noted that ‘photographers such as Jon Rhodes and myself … were steadfastly rejecting the idea that everything could be said in a single image, working rather in series which had a filmic feel’.1

In recognition of his work, Rhodes was awarded the Australian National University H C Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship in 2006 to research the historical records of the 30 Aboriginal sites he photographed for his Cage of Ghosts exhibition, shown at the National Library of Australia in 2007.

1. Edwards S 2001, CCP lecture, Aug. See Accessed 13.06.2006

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




Media categories

Album , Photograph

Materials used

bound album: 32 leaves, 53 gelatin silver photographs




20.5 x 29.0 x 4.0 cm album closed :

a-zz, 11.9 x 17.7 cm, each image

a-zz, 19.7 x 28.1 cm, each sheet/page

aaa - Untitled (Ti-trees beside sea), 8.3 x 12.1 cm, image

aaa - Untitled (Ti-trees beside sea), 19.7 x 28.1 cm, sheet/page

Signature & date

Signed l.r. sheet [under plate 53], pencil "Jon Rhodes". Not dated.


Purchased 1980


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Jon Rhodes

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Natasha Bullock, Australian postwar photodocumentary, Sydney, 2004. no catalogue numbers

Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - people', pg.246-265, Sydney, 2007, 255 (illus.). reproductions of ff 'John Tjakamarra, Gibson Desert, Northern Territory' and gg 'John Tjakamarra, Kintore Ranges, Northern Territory'

Gael Newtown, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Photography - Australian, European and American', pg. 67-84, Sydney, 1981, 81 (illus.). 37. There are two images appearing on page 81: part 12 and 13.