Timeline

Photography Exhibiting, Collecting and Curating in Australia

1847
Robert Hall exhibits daguerreotype portraits of Aboriginal people in the Exhibition of Pictures, the Works of Colonial Artists at the Legislative Council Chambers, Adelaide, organised by Samuel Thomas Gill. These are the earliest known daguerreotypes of Aboriginal subjects, but not extant.

1848
J. W. Newland sets up a Daguerreian Gallery on the corner of King and George Streets, Sydney in March. The almost two hundred daguerreotypes included views acquired whilst Newland had travelled through Jamaica, Haiti, Panama, Honduras, Peru, Chile, Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand in 1846–47. They included portraits of Queen Pomare and the royal family from Tahiti, Fijians, Maoris, chiefs from other Pacific Islands, and portraits and views from Peru, Chile and Grenada, including panoramas of Peruvian cities. The Sydney Morning Herald recommended that: “The Australian public should pay a visit to this gallery… The enterprising artists … present us not only with characteristic portraits of its native inhabitants, but landscapes of considerable beauty”. Sydney Chronicle reported that:  “Besides, however, the foreign scenery and foreign faces, there are some scenes, and a good many portraits, which the Sydney visitor will recognize instantly. Indeed, the extreme accuracy of the portraits, even to the most minute lines, is surprising.” In October Newland exhibited the Daguerreian Gallery in Hobart.

1854
Exhibitions are held in Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne of works to be sent to the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1855. Australia had sent agricultural products to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, but Paris provided one of the earliest opportunities to show the progress of Australian colonies in an international context. Gael Newton notes that the Australian commissioners complained of local indifference to the exhibition.

1855
Thomas Glaister – from the New York studio of Meade Brothers & Co – sets up the American Australian Portrait Gallery in Sydney in April 1855, importing the technical sophistication, size and style of American photography to his Australian daguerreotypes and collodion processes.

Richard Daintree, View of Castlemaine Town, 1858.

1858
John Smith, William Stanley Jevons, Robert Hunt and Mathew Fortescue Moresby exhibit their photographs at special “conversazione” evenings held in Sydney in December 1858 and December 1859 by the Philosophical Society, to which they belonged. Although preceded slightly by a demonstration by George Pownall, Anglican Dean of Perth, at the Perth Mechanics Institute in September 1858, these are, according to Gael Newton, “the earliest purely photographic exhibitions”.

Richard Daintree and Antoine Fauchery produce Sun Pictures of Victoria, the first photographic collection depicting Melbourne and the colony of Victoria, portraying the goldfields, Melbourne Streets, landscapes and portraits of Indigenous Victorians.

1866
Redmond Barry, the President of the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, commissions the German photographer Charles Walter to make a series of portraits of the residents of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station (1863–1924). The portraits are incorporated into one large display panel and subsequently sent to Russia, Italy, and England as “evidence” in scientific debates about human evolution. Landscape photographs in the Intercolonial Exhibition (such as Charles Nettleton’s panoramic views of Melbourne) are reviewed in the Australia Monthly Magazine under the title “A Wanderer Among the Photographic Views at the Intercolonial Exhibition”.

1871
Richard Daintree’s photographs are exhibited as part of the Queensland display at the London Exhibition of Art and Industry.

1874
Twenty Julia Margaret Cameron photographs are displayed in the Drawing Room of Government House, Sydney, New South Wales, by Cameron’s friend Governor Hercules Robinson.

1876
Charles Bayliss’ panorama of Sydney is exhibited as part of the New South Wales exhibit Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition, directed by the gold miner, businessman, and politician Bernhardt Holtermann. Known as the Holtermann panorama, it receives a bronze medal.

1878
Charles Bayliss’ panorama of Sydney is exhibited at Paris Exposition Universelle Internationale.

1890
Thomas Baker, one of the first to manufacture dry plates locally, teams with amateur photographer J.F.C. Farquhar to open their rooms in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne as the “Victorian Gallery of Australian Views” with an exhibition of “argentic bromide” enlarged landscape photographs (with some prints over a metre square). The Sun newspaper of 28 February declares: “The bromide produces real works of art, giving a soft finish to the pictures, equal to the finest engravings. The object of the firm is to supply pictures of national life for home decorations, at a modest price.” The exhibition review is headed “Exhibition of Artistic Photographs,” suggesting a new emphasis on artistry in the assessment of photographs in the 1890s.

1894
The Northern Tasmanian Camera Club holds its first intercolonial show, followed by the Geelong Amateur Photographic Society in 1895, which also serves as a congress – one of the few occasions when photographers travelled from interstate to get together.

1895
Members of the South Australian Photographic Society are represented in the South Australian Chamber of Manufacturers Exhibition of Art and Industry. This show is significant for its mixed hanging of photographs and traditional works of art, and it included prints and stereographs by H.H. Tilbrook (1848–1937), founder of the Northern Argus newspaper in South Australia.

1901
The 1901 exhibition of the South Australian Photographic Society at the institute rooms, North Terrace, is considered “one of the finest” by a reviewer in the South Australian Register/The Advertiser, because “some of the works … could easily be mistaken for etchings and paintings. All the sharp and hard lines which one is so accustomed to associate with photography are absent and the exhibits are perfect pictures and delightful works of art.”

1903
A print by Edward Steichen is exhibited by the Photographic Society of New South Wales, which: “gave an opportunity to compare [his] work with the production of the local men”.

Harold Cazneaux, One Man Show, 1909

Harold Cazneaux, One Man Show, 1909.

Harold Cazneaux, One Man Show, 1909

Harold Cazneaux, One Man Show, 1909.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demonstration of a standardised mount and label which camera clubs could use for a proposed "Australian Photographic Record Society". Edward William Searle, "Historical Photographs: A Suggestion for Camera Clubs’ Australasian Photo-Review, Australasian Photo Review, 15 November, 1918, p587

Demonstration of a standardised mount & label, for a proposed “Australian Photographic Record Society”. Edward William Searle, “Historical Photographs: A Suggestion for Camera Clubs”, Australasian PhotoReview, 15 November, 1918.

1909
The first “one man show” by Harold Cazneaux is mounted at the Photographic Society of New South Wales rooms.

Victorian photographic societies form an affiliation and mount an exhibition with over 400 exhibits, and an interstate interclub competition in 1910 with entries from both main societies in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as a number of smaller suburban and regional clubs.

1910
John Kauffmann’s exhibition of seventy-four pictures is shown in Melbourne.

T.C. Cummins and Frank Hurley mount exhibitions in Sydney.

1912
Second Harold Cazneaux “one man show” of fifty prints is mounted at the  New South Wales Photographic Society (Kodak Gallery), Sydney. H.C. Cartwright and Norman Deck also hold solo exhibitions.

1914
John Kauffmann mounts the first of the new one-person shows to be held in Melbourne, which is well reviewed (as Cazneaux’s had been). Artists respond positively to the work; for instance, the painter Hans Heysen purchases one of the photographs, titled Sheep. In this period, as Gael Newton notes, “[a] certain rivalry between the Sydney and Melbourne societies stimulated each group to aspire to larger and more spectacular exhibitions.”

1916
The Sydney Camera Circle of Pictorialists is formed. Its six founders are Cecil Bostock, Harold Cazneaux, Malcolm McKinnon, James Paton, James S. Stening and William Stewart White, who all sign a manifesto, pledging to advance and promote a Pictorialist photography devoted to Australian sunlight and shadow.

Exhibition of Australian Pictorial Photography, 14–17 November, 1917.

1917
Exhibition of Australian Pictorial Photography, Photographic Society of New South Wales Art Gallery, Education Department Building, Sydney, 14–17 November, 1917. ‘Two views of the main gallery of the exhibition of the Photographic Society of New South Wales. These give a good idea of the arrangement of the rooms and what is more important the display of the pictures. The lighter portion of the walls, immediately behind the frames, was covered by hessian, stained a neutral tint, so as to furnish an effective background.’ (The Australasian PhotoReview, 15 December 1917, p. 642.)

1918
Tasmanian photographer Edward Searle writes an article for The Australasian PhotoReview (15 November 1918), calling for photographs to be collected as historical records.

The exhibition Official War Photographs, organized through the Australian High Commission, is mounted by photographer Frank Hurley at the Grafton Galleries, London. The exhibition includes six enlarged composite prints, 130 enlargements from single negatives, and regular projections of Paget plate colour lantern slides.

 

 

 

Catalogue of an exhibition of War Photographs by Capt. F. Hurley, The Kodak Salon, Sydney, 1919.

Catalogue of an exhibition of War Photographs by Capt. F. Hurley, Kodak Salon, Sydney, 1919

Catalogue of an exhibition of War Photographs by Capt. F. Hurley, The Kodak Salon, Sydney, 1919.

Catalogue of an exhibition of War Photographs by Capt. F. Hurley, The Kodak Salon, Sydney, 1919.

1919
Frank Hurley mounts his Exhibition of War Photographs by Capt. F. Hurley, Late Official Photographer with the AIF, at Sydney’s Kodak Salon, in March. A small catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The Mitchell Library (now part of the State Library of New South Wales) acquires the prints.

The first monograph of an Australian photographer, The Art of John Kauffmann, is published by Alexander McCubbin in Melbourne, with a print run of 500. The book contained twenty photographs and a text written by Leslie Beer, editor of Harrington’s Photographic Journal.

1921
An exhibition of official war photographs from the Australian War Museum is mounted at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne.

Australian art publisher Sydney Ure Smith organises an exhibition from the Sydney Camera Circle at the Kodak Salon, Sydney.

1922–25
The Australian War Museum holds its major exhibition, The Relics and Records of Australia’s Effort in the Defence of the Empire, 1914–18, at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. The exhibition features giant photographic enlargements of official war photographs taken by Hubert Wilkins and Frank Hurley.

Harold Cazneaux, Sydney Camera Circle, 1924. First Australian Salon of Photography meeting in Sydney1924. From left to right: W. White holding print, Monte Luke at easel, J. Paton, H. Cazneaux, S. Eutrope, C. Wakeford, Webster with pipe, A. Smith | in front: J. McColl, C. Bostock (National Gallery of Australia)

Harold Cazneaux, Sydney Camera Circle, 1924. First Australian Salon of Photography meeting in Sydney, 1924. From left to right: W. White holding print, Monte Luke at easel, J. Paton, H. Cazneaux, S. Eutrope, C. Wakeford, Webster with pipe, A. Smith | in front: J. McColl, C. Bostock (National Gallery of Australia).

1923
C.E.W. Bean and H.S. Gullett publish the final (twelfth) volume of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, titled Photographic Record of the War, which was entirely illustrated with carefully edited and captioned official photographs.

1924
The first Australian Salon of Photography, “Exhibition of Camera Pictures”, is held at the Farmer’s Exhibition Hall, Sydney. It is organized by the Photographic Society of New South Wales, in association with the Sydney Camera Circle, who also provided the judges.

Fifteen prints from the Sydney Camera Circle are shown by Kiichiro Ishida, along with thirty-one of his own photographs, at the Shiseido Gallery in Ginza, Japan. The works were subsequently published in Asahi Camera in 1926 and 1927.

International Pictorialist prints are exhibited at the Kodak Salon, Sydney, organized by Mrs Alfred G. (Florence) Milson (the only female member of the Sydney Camera Circle) and F.J. Mortimer.

1926
The second Australian Salon of Photography takes place at the Farmer’s Exhibition Hall, Sydney.

1928
Grosvenor Galleries, Sydney, host a solo exhibition of Harold Cazneaux’s photographs.

1930
During a year-long visit to Australia, German-born British photographer E.O. Hoppé – best known for his Pictorialist portraiture – sends Cazneaux a personal invitation to his Sydney exhibition in April 1930 at the David Jones Gallery. The following year Hoppé publishes The Fifth Continent, one of the earliest national surveys of Australia by an art photographer.

1932
English photography critic F.C. Tilney donates a large collection of early Pictorialist work to the Sydney Camera Circle, for whom he had acted as a paid critic.

1935
In August, Harold Cazneaux writes an article for the periodical Art in Australia about the Sydney Camera Circle, titled “Artistic Photography in Australia”.

In November, a portfolio of seven photographs by Max Dupain is published in Art in Australia.

Robert E. Coates, Photograph of Australian Pavilion at New York World’s Fair, 1939. Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 7 August 2017, <https://ma.as/379016>

1938
Commemorative Salon of Photography is organized by the Photographic Society of New South Wales, in association with the Sydney Camera Circle and the Professional Photographers’ Association of New South Wales.

The Contemporary Camera Groupe is formed and exhibits at the David Jones Gallery, Sydney. The exhibition mixes younger modernist professionals such as Douglas Annand, Olive Cotton, Max Dupain, Laurence Le Guay and Damien Parer and Russell Roberts with an older generation of Pictorialists such as Cecil Bostock, William Buckle and Harold Cazneaux.

1939
The Russell Roberts Studio works with Douglas Annand and Arthur Baldwin on the production and design for the Australian exhibition at the New York World’s Fair, which features hand coloured backlit transparencies. Max Dupain’s photographs were also featured in the exhibit.

1941
Axel Poignant – an Anglo-Swedish migrant who had settled in Perth in 1930 and by 1935 had begun to experiment with the photo-essay alongside 16mm film making – joins forces with Hal Missingham (later Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales), to stage a joint exhibition in the gallery of The West Australian newspaper. The foreword to the catalogue sets forth a succinct statement of the role of documentary photography in modern society, couched in the terminology of the European New Photography.

1944
The Allied Works Council Civil Construction Corps exhibition tours throughout Australia, including photographs by Edward Cranstone.

Australian Photography 1947, published by Oswald Ziegler.

Australian Photography 1947, published by Oswald Ziegler.

1946
Laurence Le Guay, recently returned from England, founds Contemporary Photography, the first Australian photographic magazine not published by a photo supply firm. Harold Cazneaux conducted the print analysis of readers’ submissions while Edward Cranstone and Max Dupain provided articles on documentary photography

1947
The book Australian Photography 1947 is published by Oswald Ziegler, based on work selected for a photography exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Newcastle.

1948
Max Dupain Photographs is published by Sydney Ure Smith, with an introduction by Hal Missingham (Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1945 to 1971).

1949
A Portfolio of Australian Photography (edited by Laurence Le Guay) is published, containing essays by Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain and L.A. Lyons.

1950
1950 Wolfgang Sievers and Margaret Michaelis are included in the Institute of Photographic Illustrators second exhibition in Sydney. The Institute, which had been established in Sydney in 1947, sought to “raise the standard of photography in Australia and to foster a creative approach in the use of the camera in advertising and illustration”. Michaelis was the only woman member.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 16 September 1953, pp. 12–13.

1952
Keast Burke, a photographer and journalist, finds the Holtermann collection of wet-plate glass negatives in a shed in rural NSW and recommends its donation to the Mitchell Library in Sydney.

1953
Mr K.R. Cramp, president of the Royal Australian Historical Society, opens an exhibition of nineteenth-century portraits at Freeman Studios, Sydney, 14–26 September. The studio had printed 355 of their carte-de-visite glass negatives originally taken between 1875 and 1880 as black and white display prints sized 250 x 200 mm. After the exhibition the prints and negatives were given to the Mitchell Library. A selection of the female portraits, along with biographies, were also reproduced as “Portraits from the Past” in The Australian Women’s Weekly (16 September 1953, pp. 12–13). The Weekly called the portraits “enchanting” and commented: “Apart from its great historical interest, the collection is an invaluable social document of a period. It will be a treasury of authentic detail for artists, writers, and researchers of this and future generations.” Subsequently the Studio presented the rest of their negative collection to the Library in 1968, 1984 and 2000. The collection now numbers over 100,000 negatives.

Entrance panel, Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, "New Visions in Photography" exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

Entrance panel, Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, New Visions in Photography exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, "New Visions in Photography" exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, New Visions in Photography exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton’s New Visions in Photography exhibition his held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne. Reflecting the principles of European New Photography that the artist should be directly involved in modern industrial production, the introductory display panel declares that the aim of the exhibition is “to demonstrate, through actual work done, the potential of industrial and fashion photography as a means of better promotion and sales in business today”.

Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton's New Visions in Photography exhibition held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953 (Photo-Sievers, NLA)

Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, New Visions in Photography exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953 (Photo-Sievers, NLA).

Poster for Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, "New Visions in Photography" exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

Poster for Wolfgang Sievers and Helmut Newton, New Visions in Photography exhibition, held at the Federal Hotel, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1953.

1955
The Story of the Camera in Australia, by Melbourne-based portrait photographer Jack Cato, becomes the first published national history of the medium. Cato was also a photography columnist for The Age newspaper between 1960–63.

The Six Photographers exhibition at the David Jones Gallery, Sydney, features 200 photographs by Gordon Andrews, Max Dupain, Kerry Dundas, Hal Missingham, Axel Poignant and David Potts.

Wolfgang Sievers presents a solo exhibition in Hobart, opened by Premier Cosgrove.

1959
The Family of Man (1955), a large touring exhibition of humanist documentary photography curated by Edward Steichen at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, is exhibited in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. It includes photographs by David Moore and Laurence Le Guay.

Wolfgang Sievers presents an ongoing showcase of his photographs at the ground level of Australia Arcade, Collins Street, Melbourne.

 

Wolfgang Sievers, "Photovision '61", exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Flinders Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 1961 (NLA)

Wolfgang Sievers, Photovision ’61, Museum of Modern Art, Tavistock Place, Melbourne, 1961 (NLA).

1960
Harold Cazneaux’s widow Winifred donates 833 negatives to the Mitchell Library.

1961
Photovision by the documentary photography collective Group M is staged at the Museum of Modern Art and Design in Tavistock Place (Flinders Street), Melbourne. Operating between 1958 and 1966, the Museum was a precursor to the Heide Museum of Modern Art, directed by John Reed. Originally known as “Moggs Creek Clickers”, Group M photographers included Richard Woldendorp, Roy McDonald, Albert W. Brown, Harry Youlden and George W. Bell. Photovision was an annual event between 1959 and 1965. David Moore was a member of the selection panel.

1963
The National Library of Australia acquires the Keast Burke collection, and the photographic collection of Frank Hurley.

Group M, Urban Woman, Melbourne Town Hall, 1963.

Group M, Urban Woman, Melbourne Town Hall, 1963.

Urban Woman by Group M is exhibited at the Melbourne Town Hall, comprising nearly two hundred hand printed photographs (including large prints made by projecting a normal enlarger against a wall) “documenting aspects of women’s lives”. With the assistance of Gordon Thomas, Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, the work was shown at the Geelong Art Gallery (1965), The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (1965) and the Perth Town Hall for the 1966 Festival of Perth. The Department of External Affairs, Canberra, arranged to have Urban Woman displayed at the Australian Embassy in Mexico during and after the 1968 Olympic Games (a sculpture by Clement Meadmore also represented Australia’s artistic contribution to the Games). When the photographs eventually arrived back to Australia in 1971, they were so badly damaged they had to be destroyed.

1964
Keast Burke is put on a stipend as a consultant on Photographic Collections to the National Library of Australia, holding this position until his death in 1974.

Group M, Urban Woman, Melbourne Town Hall, 1963.

Group M, Urban Woman, Melbourne Town Hall, 1963.

1965
Albert Brown from Group M establishes a correspondence with German-born British-based photographic historian Helmut Gernsheim, who writes: “You seem to entirely agree with me that documentation is the most important function of photography today.”

1967
The Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Eric Westbrook – supported by Allan Martin, M. Marwick and Geoffrey Blainey – persuades the Trustees to approve the establishment a Department of Photography. In 1969 an advisory Photographic Subcommittee is formed, which includes Dacre Stubbs, Les Gray, Lenton Parr and Albert Brown (who has been appointed as an honorary photographic consultant in November 1966).

Photographs made for Robert B. Goodman’s book The Australians are displayed as transparencies in the Australian pavilion of Expo 67, Montreal.

Unknown photographer, Main Floor of the Australian Pavilion at Expo ’67 Montreal, 1967. From the collection of the National Archives of Australia, NAA: AA1982/206/43.

Unknown photographer, Main Floor of the Australian Pavilion at Expo ’67 Montreal, 1967. From the collection of the National Archives of Australia, NAA: AA1982/206/43.

Wolfgang Sievers presents an Anti-Vietnam War protest in his Australia Arcade showcase, Melbourne, consisting of a Life Magazine photograph of a soldier holding part of a dead body with the following text: “I, Wolfgang Sievers: victim of Nazi persecution – prisoner of the Gestapo – volunteer of AIF and RAAF 1939 – volunteer Australian Army 1942-1946, protest against this undeclared war – against conscription by lottery – against imprisonment of conscientious objectors whose just stand has been laid down at the Nuremburg Trials, to be the duty of all men.” He later claimed that the protest resulted in a 60% loss of his clients.

1968
Kodak (Australasia) supports the NGV to buy photographs by David Moore, Helmut Gritscher, David Beal and Lance Nelson.

At the initiation of Albert Brown, the NGV shows The Photographer’s Eye (1964), a touring exhibition from The Museum of Modern Art curated by John Szarkowski. The exhibition includes the modern “masters” Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston, as well as Lee Friedlander, juxtaposed with vernacular documents and amateur snapshots. The April exhibition is among the last at their old museum site prior to moving to St. Kilda Road in August. The Photographer’s Eye also tours to the Adelaide and Perth Festivals.

The NGV shows Mark Strizic’s Some Australian Personalities, the institution’s first solo exhibition by a photographer. Director Eric Westbrook wrote in the catalogue that, “the artist [Strizic] has his own set of problems which are peculiar to the medium he employs.”

The federal government announces a competition for the design of a national art gallery in Canberra. James Mollison, who will subsequently become the inaugural director of the Australian National Gallery (later the National Gallery of Australia, NGA), is appointed as Exhibitions Officer.

Eric Westbrook, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, at the Perceptive Eye Exhibition Australian Women's Weekly, 7 January, 1970

Eric Westbrook, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, at “The Perceptive Eye Exhibition”, 1970 (Photo: Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 January, 1970).

1969
The NGV shows The Perceptive Eye, curated by Albert Brown and NGV Director Eric Westbrook, which features David Moore, David Beal, Helmut Gritscher, Lance Nelson and Richard Woldendorp. The images are presented unframed on a white board, in a long double grid.

1970
The NGV publishes a pamphlet which states: “The National Gallery of Victoria is at the forefront in recognizing that in whatever field photography is seen as an invaluable service to mankind, its service to art and potential as an art form is no longer to be ignored. The Gallery’s responsibility in this area is to define function, style and character, so helping to clarify that which is photographic, that which is becoming the photographic tradition.”

1971
The NGV mounts the exhibition Frontiers, including the experimental abstract photography of Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski, Mark Strizic, John Wilkins, Peter Medlen and John Cato, installed on crimson screens with strobe lighting. Cato, then running a commercial studio in partnership Athol Shmith, exhibited his personal work for the first time. His environmental protest work, Earth Song (1969), comprised of 52 colour prints, shown in an experimental sequence to evoke melodic line and symphonic form.

"Frontiers" exhibition, Temporary Exhibitions Hall, National Gallery of Victoria, 1971

Frontiers exhibition, Temporary Exhibitions Hall, National Gallery of Victoria, 1971.

1972
The NGV brings Barbara London and John Stringer out from MoMA to advise on the new department. Jennie Boddington is appointed as inaugural Curator of Photography, selected from fifty-three applicants after advertising. Boddington had a twenty-year background in documentary film, and was appointed as Assistant Curator of Photography before becoming the first full-time Curator of Photography in Australia.

Roderick McNicol and Carol Jerrems, Brummels Gallery, 1978

Roderick McNicol and Carol Jerrems, Brummels Gallery, 1978.

Brummels Gallery opens in South Yarra, Melbourne, established by social photographer Rennie Ellis. The first Australian gallery dedicated to photography, non-profit and essentially “artist-run”, it lasts for eight years. On 14 December 1972, the gallery opens with Two Views of Erotica: Henry Talbot/Carol Jerrems (14 December 1972–21 January 1973), launched by photographer and filmmaker, Paul Cox, who would soon open the Photographers’ Gallery around the corner in Punt Road, South Yarra. Artists shown at Brummels included Robert Ashton, Godwin Bradbeer, Warren Breninger, Ian Dodd, Rennie Ellis, Sue Ford, George Gittoes, Gerard Groeneveld, Ponch Hawkes, Carol Jerrems, Peter Leiss, Steven Lojewski, Rod McNicol, David Moore, Jean-Marc Le Pechoux, Jon Rhodes, Wesley Stacey, Geoff Strong and Henry Talbot. Research done by the Australian Centre for Photography suggests that Brummels was only the fifth of such photographic centres worldwide.

1973
The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) shows the exhibition Bill Brandt, its first exhibition devoted to a photographer.

Acting Director of the Australian National Gallery, James Mollison, buys Mark Strizic’s photochrome image Jolimont Railway Yards (1970), the first photograph purchased for the new gallery. (See Gael Newton, “The First Photographer: Mark Strizic”, National Gallery News, January–February 1994, pp. 12–13). In the same year, Mollison also acquires a set of Yosuf Karsh portraits. Mollison also becomes the selector for the Philip Morris collection through the Australian National Gallery. The associated book, Aspects of the Philip Morris Collection: Four Australian Photographers (North Sydney: Visual Arts Board Regional Development Program) is published in 1978.

Mark Strizic, "Jolimont Railway Yards", 1970.

Mark Strizic, Jolimont Railway Yards, 1970.

The Department of Foreign Affairs packages the NGV’s exhibition Frontiers (1971) for a tour of the Australian Embassies in the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. According to The Canberra Times the abstract nature of the photography means the exhibition is not a success. (Ross Campbell-Jones, “Thais ignore exhibition”, Canberra Times, 31 July 1973, p. 11).

Athol Shmith travels overseas on behalf of the NGV and buys a small selection of non-vintage prints by Henri Lartigue, Bill Brandt, Paul Strand, Andre Kertesz, Edward Steichen and Margaret Bourke-White.

David Moore holding the cheque from the Australia Council that established the Australian Centre for Photography in 1973. © David Moore Photography Archive.

David Moore holding the cheque from the Australia Council that established the Australian Centre for Photography in 1973. © David Moore Photography Archive.

1974
The Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) opens in Sydney on 21 November 1974, supported by a $25,000 grant from the Visual Arts Board of the recently created Australia Council. Its first director Graham Howe, aged 23, is lured back from The Photographers’ Gallery in London. The Foundation Committee had been formed in 1973, driven by David Moore and Wesley Stacey and also including Daniel Thomas (Chief Curator, AGNSW), architect Peter Keys, Laurence Le Guay, Craig McGregor and Harry Williamson. The ACP claims it was only the seventh such photographic centre in the world, after George Eastman House (Rochester, USA), the Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki), The Photographers’ Gallery (London), the Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego), Brummels Gallery of Photography (Melbourne) and the California Museum of Photography. The ACP’s first exhibition, Aspects of Australian Photography, surveyed work by six younger photographers selected to suggest some of the dimensions of recent Australian photography (Ian Dodd, Ken Middleton, Grant Mudford, Max Pam, Phillip Quirk and John Walsh), with an accompanying publication.

The AGNSW trustees adopt a formal policy for collecting photographs, specialising in Australian photography of the pictorial era, and Gael Newton is appointed the inaugural Curator of Photography, a position she holds until 1985 when she moves to the National Gallery.

The Photographers Gallery and Workshop opens in Melbourne, founded by filmmaker Paul Cox and photographers Rod McNicholl, Ingeborg Tyssen and John Williams.

John Szarkowski in Sydney

John Szarkowski talking to photographers at Laurence Le Guay’s apartment, 1974 (Photo: David Moore).

John Szarkowski at the Australia Council, 1974

Australia Council for the Arts meeting with Daniel Thomas, John Szarkowski, Graham Howe, Wesley Stacey and Laurence Le Guay, May 1974 (Photo: David Moore).

John Szarkowski, Curator of Photography from The Museum of Modern Art, New York, tours Australia hosted by the Australian Centre for Photography. Over three weeks he gives six public lectures, “Towards a Photographic Tradition”. In an article titled “The Szarkowski Lectures” for Art and Australia (vol 12, no 1: p. 89), Graham Howe writes that: “The purpose of the tour was to liberate photography from the world of technique and commerce and to suggest that it could also be of absorbing artistic and intellectual interest.”

Sue Ford’s iconic portraits, the Time Series, are exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria. This is the first solo exhibition by a female photographer at the NGV.

Wesley Stacey, "The Road", 1974-75, Australian Centre for Photography (25 July to 16 August, 1975).

Wesley Stacey, The Road, 1974-75, Australian Centre for Photography (25 July to 16 August, 1975).

The Cazneaux family presents a collection of 236 original prints and twenty-nine copy prints to the National Library of Australia.

James Mollison buys Gerard Malanga’s portraits of artists for the Australian National Gallery.

An exhibition of French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson tours to nine public galleries throughout the country, sponsored by the French Foreign Ministry.

1975
Jennie Boddington makes a six-week tour of Europe, London and America that includes meeting photographers Andre Kertesz and Bill Brandt. She spends nearly four weeks at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and meets the Director of Photography, John Szarkowski.

Ian Lobb and Bill Heimerman take over The Photographers’ Gallery from Paul Cox and John Williams.

Australian photographer Bill Henson is given a solo exhibition at the NGV, at only nineteen years of age.

Project 7 — Harold Cazneaux: 1878 to 1953, 1975. Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Harold Cazneaux’s daughters donate ninety of his photographs to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This coincides with the AGNSW’s exhibition Project 7Harold Cazneaux: 1878 to 1953, curated by Gael Newton from August to September. The exhibition includes vitrines holding his Sydney Ure Smith publications as well as one of his cameras.

Amongst its exhibitions of Australian photographers, the ACP also exhibits international photography in the exhibitions: Selected Masters, Elliot Erwitt, Polaroid Progress, and The Californian Aesthetic.

The ACP mounts the exhibition of historical Australian photography Gundagai: Dr Charles Gabriel.

The ACP mounts Max Dupain’s first retrospective, Max Dupain Retrospective 1930–1975, which includes the increasingly iconic Sunbaker photograph from 1937.

1976

Rennie Ellis and Robert Ashton, Brummels Gallery, c.1975 (Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive)

Rennie Ellis and Robert Ashton, Brummels Gallery, c.1975 (Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive).

Daniel Thomas, Senior Curator of Australian Art at the AGNSW, includes twenty-one photographs from Nicholas Caire, Henry Jones, J. W. Lindt, Beufoy Merlin, Charlea Nettleton, T. J. Nevin, S. Solomon and Samuel Sweet in the AGNSW exhibition Australian Art in the 1870s.

Amongst its exhibitions of Australian photographers the ACP also exhibits international photography in the exhibitions: Charles Gatewood, David Goldblatt, Polaroid Experience, Photographs From the Farm Security Administration, Edward Weston, and Paul Caponigro.

The ACP mounts the exhibition of historical Australian photography Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge: Henri Mallard.

The ACP exhibits a retrospective of David Moore, David Moore Retrospective 1940–1976. The prints are acquired by James Mollison, for the Australian National Gallery.

1977
The Australian National Gallery decides to develop a Department of Photography. The annual report states: “The Australian collection will be historically comprehensive, while the collection of overseas photography will aim to represent the work of the major artists in the history of photography.” (See Robert Deane, “Lost in Australia and Not Even Built, The Gallery Acquires the Museum Set”, Building the Collection, National Gallery of Australia, ed. Pauline Green, 2003, p. 63.)

Jan Saudek Exhibition, Third Floor Photography Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria 1977.

Jan Saudek Exhibition, Third Floor Photography Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, 1977.

Alison Carroll is appointed Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Art Gallery of South Australia (the gallery had been collecting photography as early as the mid-1920s).

Exhibitions of American photography proliferate. A Diane Arbus exhibition tours to both Australia and New Zealand, attracting record crowds. Lee Friedlander visits Melbourne and Sydney in association with an exhibition of his work at the NGV, the ACP and the Queensland Art Gallery. Ralph Gibson is brought to Melbourne by the Photographers’ Gallery to conduct workshops.

Amongst its exhibitions of Australian photographers the ACP also exhibits international photography in the exhibitions: Bent Photography: West Coast USA, Lee Friedlander, Jan Saudek, and Diane Arbus.

Photography in Australia, ‘A Conference on Photography as Communication Medium and Art Form’ is held at the University of Sydney. Speakers included Jennie Boddington (NGV), Bronwyn Thomas (ACP), anthropologists and art historians from Australia and New Zealand. Anne-Marie Willis is on the conference staff.

Church Street Photographic Centre, a commercial photography practice operated by Joyce Evans, opens in Richmond, Melbourne. Evans introduces Melbourne audiences to the work of many key figures in international photography, including Julia Margaret Cameron, Eugène Atget, Alfred Steiglitz, Berenice Abbott, Paul Strand, Brett Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arnold Newman and André Kertész. Evans also exhibits works by Australian photographers including Max Dupain, Frank Hurley and David Moore, Bill Henson and Fiona Hall, among others.

"Light Vision: Australia's International Photography Magazine", 1, 1977

Light Vision: Australia’s International Photography Magazine, volume 1, 1977.

Gael Newton from the AGNSW is invited to a meeting of the Sydney Camera Circle.

1977–78
Jean Marc le Pechoux publishes the first edition of Light Vision, a magazine with high quality reproductions and international “fine print” aspirations.

1978
American photographer William Clift is brought to Melbourne by the Photographers’ Gallery to conduct workshops.

Photographs are included in the Australian National Gallery’s exhibition Genesis of a Gallery, Part II, including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Andre Kertesz, Lizette Model and Edweard Muybridge.

Amongst its exhibitions of Australian photographers the ACP also exhibits international photography in the exhibitions: William Clift, Jose Lopez & Luis Medina, Emmet Gowin, and Harry Callahan.

The magazine Working Papers on Photography (WOPOP) is first published in Melbourne by Euan McGillivray and Matthew Nickson, and sought to provide critical discussion about photography.

Australian Pictorial Photography, 1979. Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales.

1978–84
Industrial company CSR begins to commission photographers for exhibition and collection, a process that is auspiced by the ACP. The collection is transferred to the collection of AGNSW between 1984 and 1988. Commissioned photographers included: Micky Allan (1978), Tom Balfour (1984), Ed Douglas (1983), Max Dupain (1979), Sandy Edwards (1978), Bill Henson (1983), Fiona Hall (1982), Merryle Johnson (1984), Steven Lojewski (1984), Graham McCarter (1978), David Moore (1984), Lewis Morley (1978), Grant Mudford (1981), Max Pam (1981), Debra Phillips (1985), Phillip Quirk (1984), Jon Rhodes (1978), Wesley Stacey (1984), David Stephenson (1983), John Williams (1984).

1979
The Art Gallery of New South Wales holds an exhibition of Australian Pictorial Photography, curated by Gael Newton, during July at the S.H. Erwin Galleries.

American photographer Harry Callahan is brought to Melbourne by the Photographers’ Gallery to conduct workshops. He also exhibits at the ACP.

Amongst its exhibitions of Australian photographers the ACP exhibits international photography in the exhibitions: Uses of Photography in Europe, Ralph Gibson, William Eggleston, and Franco Fontana.

Silver and Grey: Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900–1950, curated by Gael Newton, AGNSW, 1980

Silver and Grey: Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900–1950, curated by Gael Newton, AGNSW, 1980.

1980
“Working Papers On Photography” (WOPOP) Australian Photography Conference is held at Prahran College of Advanced Education in Melbourne, 19–21 September 1980. This conference was organised by Euan McGillivray, the Curator of Photography at the Science Museum of Victoria, and Matthew Nickson, from the Photography Department at RMIT. The conference was concerned with photographic conservation and preservation; photography as communication; photographic publishing in Australia; photographic history; photographic criticism; and the funding of photography in Australia. Overseas visitors included Allan Sekula.

Ian North is appointed as Foundation Curator of Photography at the Australian National Gallery where he stays until 1984. He was previously Director of the Manawatu Art Gallery, Aotearoa/New Zealand (1969–71), before immigrating to Australia to become Curator of Paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia (1971–80).

Robert Deane, Assistant Director at the Australian National Gallery, pays $150,000 for the Ansel Adams Museum Set of seventy-five photographs, purchased from Weston Gallery with Ministerial approval.

The Australian National University in Canberra mounts a special exhibition from the Australian National Gallery, Photography the Last Ten Years, exhibited at Melville Hall.

The AGNSW mounts the exhibition Silver and Grey: Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900–1950, curated by Gael Newton, with an accompanying book publication.

The ACP tours the exhibition Modern Australian Photographic Art to five countries in the Middle East. Artists included in the exhibition were Nigel Clarke, John Delacour, David Ellis, Gerrit Fokkema, Carol Jerrems, Mark Lang,
Glen O’Malley, Brian Thompson and John Williams.

Bill Henson, in "Reconstructed Vision: Contemporary Work with Photography", Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1981

Bill Henson, in Reconstructed Vision: Contemporary Work with Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1981.

1981
Gael Newton curates the exhibition Reconstructed Vision: Contemporary Work with Photography at the AGNSW.

Australian Women Photographers Research Project 1890–1950 is exhibited at the George Paton Gallery at the University of Melbourne, featuring research by Barbara Hall, Jenni Mather and Christine Gillespie.

Photodiscourse: Critical Thought and Practice in Photography, edited by Kurt Brereton, is published through the Sydney College of the Arts.

Helen Ennis begins her training in the Department of Photography at the Australian National Gallery (now the National Gallery of Australia), and becomes Curator of International and Australian Photography from 1985–92.

1982
Official opening of the Australian National Gallery (now the National Gallery of Australia). The gallery’s opening exhibitions include International Photography 1920–1980, accompanied by a book, as well as an exhibition of Australian photography, Pictorialism to Photojournalism, curated by Helen Ennis and Martyn Jolly. Foundation curator Ian North boasts of the “commodious space” of the photography gallery in an article written for Art and Australia and notes that Department of Photography has four curatorial staff (North, Ennis, Jolly and Crombie).

The Philip Morris Collection, which had been selected by James Mollison since 1973, is donated to the Australian National Gallery. By October 1982 the Gallery had collected 7,000 photographs.

Julie Rrap, Disclosures: A Photographic Construct, Central Street Gallery, Sydney, 1982.

Julie Rrap, Disclosures: A Photographic Construct, Central Street Gallery, Sydney, 1982.

Julie Rrap mounts Disclosures: A Photographic Construct at Central Street Gallery, Sydney, featuring sixteen colour and sixty black-and-white photos of herself, both nude and in various provocative states of undress, suspended by fishing line. The work is considered a seminal work of postmodern feminist art, “disclosing” how the female body has been represented.

Indigenous activist (and now academic) Marcia Langton, with Wes Stacey and Narelle Ferreux, present the touring exhibition and book After the Tent Embassy: Images of Aboriginal History in Black and White Photographs. Photographers, none of whom were Indigenous, included Judo (now Juno) Gemes, Jon Rhodes, Wes Stacey and others.

1983
The Department of Photography at the Australian National Gallery mounts the exhibition A decade of Australian photography 1972-1982. The work is drawn from the Philip Morris Arts Grant Collection, a corporate sponsorship programme oriented around the work of “young bold and innovative artists”.

Kodak (Australasia) supports the Australian National Gallery with funds to acquire works by emerging photographers. The Kodak collection subsequently forms the basis for the 1988 bicentennial touring exhibition, Australian Photography: The 1980s, curated by Helen Ennis.

Ian North and Helen Ennis curate The New American Colour Photography at the Australian National Gallery.

The Albury Regional Gallery (now Murray Art Museum, Albury) commences its National Photography Prize.

Photofile magazine is launched by the ACP. The magazine runs until 2015, with editors that included Geoffrey Batchen, Ross Gibson, Catherine Chinnery, Robert Nery, Martin Thomas, Jo Holder and George Alexander.

1983–88
Euan McGillivray and Matthew Nickson of WOPOP propose a snapshot collecting project, Australia as Australians Saw It, to be considered for funding by the Bicentennial Authority. McGillivray and Nickson’s proposal outlines a practical method of copying individuals’ photographs, then indexing them and making them accessible.

The New South Wales Bicentennial Council funds At Work and Play, a book and exhibition project curated by Alan Davies (administered by the State Library of New South Wales). Davies travelled to twenty-three country towns around New South Wales, seeking personal images that revealed aspects of Australian life. The project copies approximately 7,000 snapshots from 576 individuals onto standard 35mm film, with selected images put onto videodisc and accessed by keyword searching. Within ten years, the videodisc became obsolete and digital copies of the analogue images were transferred to the State Library’s electronic catalogue in January 1999. The 35mm negatives were rescanned in 2004.

1984
A special collection of Australian photography is established within the broader Waverley Art Collection. In 1990 this becomes the Monash Gallery of Art Collection, occupying a purpose-built building designed by Harry Seidler. The collection now numbers more than 1,500 photographs.

Huw Davies at PhotoAccess, Canberra, 1984

Huw Davies at PhotoAccess, Canberra, 1984.

Huw Davies, Sue Ferrari, Sef Geale, Annie Jacobs, Margaret Newton and Kerrie Ruth establish PhotoAcces in Canberra, following an initiative by Lesley Goldacre, photography lecturer at the Canberra School of Art. With support from the Commonwealth Government’s Community Employment Program, a derelict building on Kingsley Street is converted into the PhotoAccess Community Photographic Centre. Iain Dawson, Gerry Orkin and Babette Scougall, amongst others, were also instrumental in the founding of PhotoAccess. It continues to this day.

1985
Alan Davies, Curator of Photographs at the State Library of New South Wales, produces the exhibition and publication The Mechanical Eye in Australia: Photography 1841–1900 with Peter Stanbury.

The Victorian Ministry for the Arts commissions photographer Bernie O’Regan to evaluate the needs of local photographers. His study proposed a photographic resource centre to serve as a focus for diverse interests.

"The Biggest Family Album in Australia", Museum Victoria, Working Papers on Photography, 1985

“The Biggest Family Album in Australia”, Museum Victoria, Working Papers on Photography, 1985.

"The Biggest Family Album in Australia", Museum Victoria, Working Papers on Photography, 1985

“The Biggest Family Album in Australia”, Museum Victoria, Working Papers on Photography, 1985.

1985–91
Museum Victoria undertakes The Biggest Family Album in Australia project, which collects copies of over 9,000 photographs from rural and regional Victoria, from the 1890s to the 1940s.

1986
The Victorian Centre for Photography (later Centre for Contemporary Photography) is established by the collective efforts of various individuals, following Bernie O’Regan’s study the previous year. O’Regan’s photography teacher at RMIT, Les Walkling, is also a founding member. The VCP’s first space is a shopfront on Rathdowne Street in Carlton.

NADOC ’86 Exhibition of Aboriginal and Islander Photographers, the first contemporary art exhibition of work exclusively by Indigenous photographers takes place in Sydney in September as part of NADOC ’86, a week-long event celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s Indigenous people. Initiated by Brisbane-born Aboriginal photographer and filmmaker, Tracey Moffatt, following an invitation from Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke, then Director of the Aboriginal Artists Gallery in Clarence Street, Sydney, where it is held, the exhibition includes sixty photographs by Mervyn Bishop, Brenda L. Croft, Tony Davis, Ellen José, Darren Kemp, Tracey Moffatt, Michael Riley, Christopher Robinson, Ros Sultan, and Terry Shewring.

The Critical Distance: Work with Photography, Politics, Writing, edited by Virginia Coventry, is published. The book is a collection of photography projects concerning environmental and political issues in Australia.

The ACP hosts an exhibition by controversial New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Parliament House Construction Authority commissions photographers to document the building of the new Parliament House between 1986 and 1988. In 1986, artists that participate include: Margot Charter, Grace Cochrane, Ed Douglas, Sandy Edwards, John Elliot, Gerrit Fokkema, Gillian Gibb, Anne Graham, Anthony Green, Fiona Hall, Douglas Holleley, Ian Howard, Merryle Johnson, Mark Kimber, Steven Lojewski, Brent Nylon, Glen O’Malley, Charles Page, Tony Perry, Debra Phillips, David Stephenson, Richard Stringer and Richard Woldendorp. In 1988, artists include: Patrick Bingham-Hall, Max Dupain, David Moore and Michael Nicholson.

1987
Anne Ferran’s Scenes on the Death of Nature (1986) is exhibited at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne.

1988
The Australian National Gallery exhibits two major exhibitions covering photography in Australia. Gael Newton curates Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839–1988, with a major publication of the same title that includes essays by Helen Ennis and Chris Long (with assistance from Isobel Crombie and Kate Davidson). Helen Ennis curates Australian Photography: The 1980s, which tours to the National Gallery of Victoria; Centre for the Arts Gallery, Hobart; Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane; New England Regional Gallery; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Art Gallery of Western Australia; and College Gallery, Adelaide.

"Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839–1988", curated by Gael Newton, Australian National Gallery, 1988

Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839–1988, curated by Gael Newton, Australian National Gallery, 1988

'Australian Photography: The 1980s', curated by Helen Ennis

Australian Photography: The 1980s, curated by Helen Ennis, Australian National Gallery, 1988

The Thousand Mile Stare, a Victorian Centre for Photography bicentennial project curated by Joyce Agee, opens at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. The exhibition surveys a diverse range of Victorian photographic practice from the previous twenty-five years – traditional photographic genres as well as experimental, commercial and activist uses of the camera – and is intended as a catalyst for debate.Geoff Strong’s essay in the accompanying exhibition catalogue ‘The Melbourne Movement – Fashion and Faction in the Seventies’ outlines the clash of individuals, groups and institutions engaged in photography as a documentary or more self-consciously, artistic medium.

Isobel Crombie is appointed Senior Curator, Photography at NGV, having begun her career at the National Gallery of Australia in 1979. She is Senior Curator from 1988–2012, before being appointed Assistant Director of the NGV.

1989
Indigenous artist Tracey Moffatt holds her first solo exhibition at the ACP with the series Something More (1989). The sequence of six cibachrome and three black and white photographs portray the artist in a stylised melodrama of interracial and gender tension reminiscent of B-grade Hollywood stills. The Australian National Gallery is one of several institutions to acquire the series, which becomes immediately iconic, later selling for record prices at auction.

"After 200 Years: Photographs of Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today", organised by Penny Taylor, National Gallery of Australia, 1990.

After 200 Years: Photographic Essays of Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today by Penny Taylor, 1988

1990
After 200 Years: Photographs of Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today is exhibited at the NGA, initiated by Penny Taylor (with curatorial assistance from Helen Ennis and Wally Capuana). The 1988 bicentenary of the European settlement of Australia had been a catalyst for reconciliation efforts and recognition of Indigenous rights. This massive undertaking documenting Indigenous Australia commenced in 1985 and sought to overcome problems associated with photography’s role in the creation and perpetuation of negative images of Indigenous people. Participating photographers were required to engage with local communities through a series of protocols, including a period of living with Aboriginal people without taking photographs. Of the 21 photographers commissioned to the project, eight were Aboriginal (Kathy Fisher, Alana Harris, Ricky Maynard, Polly Sumner, Michael Riley, Tess Napaljarri Ross, Helen Napurrula Morton and Peter McKenzie). A major book with a slightly different title (‘photographic essays’) was published in 1988.

1991
Tracey Moffatt curates In Dreams: Mervyn Bishop – Thirty years of photography 1960–1990 at the Australian Centre for Photography. Bishop is Australia’s first Indigenous commercial photojournalist. Moffatt had previously included his iconic 1975 photograph of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring soil into the hand of Gurindji elder Vincent Lingiari in the NADOC ’86 exhibition.

Stills Gallery, a commercial contemporary photography gallery, opens in Sydney.

Helen Ennis curates The Life and Work of Wolfgang Sievers, which tours to National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Wollongong City Gallery, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, and Broken Hill City Art Gallery.

1992
Indigenous artist Leah King-Smith’s series Patterns of Connection (1991) is exhibited at the Victoria Centre for Photography and the ACP. While engaged in researching 19th century colonial photography in the Picture Collection of the State Library of Victoria, King-Smith was inspired to create what she terms “photo-compositions” – combing re-photographs of the nineteenth-century photographs, with her own colour photographs of the Victorian landscape and paint thus “recovering” Aboriginal people from the archives. King-Smith was among the first of many contemporary artists to engage with archives of colonial ethnographic photography.

Site of the Imagination: Contemporary Photographers View Melbourne and its People, curated by Isobel Crombie, is staged at the NGV.

The Victorian Centre for Photography changes its name to Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) and moves to 205 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, attracting regular state government funding. One of its first exhibitions in the new space, under new director Susan Fereday, is After the Fact: Photographs from the Police Forensic Archive (1992), depicting vacant crimes scene and questioning the notion of photographic evidence.

The Photography Gallery of WA is established in a space upstairs on William Street, Northbridge, exhibiting local and international photographers. After a period of dormancy in the late 1990s, the newly named Perth Centre for Photography (PCP) emerged in 2004 with a refreshed staff and board and a new space in Brisbane Street. In 2012 the gallery relocated again to Aberdeen Street, and in 2015 moved to the heritage building Lawton House in West Perth, where it runs exhibitions, residency and workshop spaces.

1993
A photography collection benefactors group for the AGNSW is formed.

1995
Bill Henson represents Australia at the Venice Biennale, the first photographer to do so. The work comprises images of naked youths and abandoned cars in moody dark landscapes, built up using slices of photographic paper held together by black tape. The installation tours Australia on its return.

Judy Annear is appointed Senior Curator, Photographs at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a position she holds until 2016.

Sue Ford: A Survey 1960-1995 opens at the Monash University Gallery (now Monash University Museum of Art)

1996
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, exhibits Photography is Dead! Long Live Photography!. Curated by Linda Michael, and embracing work produced using techniques of digital imaging, the exhibition includes photographers such as Pat Brassington, Rose Farrell & George Parkin, Susan Fereday, Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson, Rosemary Laing, Debra Phillips, Julie Rrap, Robyn Stacey and Anne Zahalka as well as photographic works by artists such as Stephen Bram, Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, Stephen Bush, Matthys Gerber, Geoff Kleem, Patricia Piccinini and others.

1997
The Dia Center in New York presents a major survey of Tracey Moffatt’s work (Free-Falling, curated by Lynne Cook), which becomes crucial to her international success.

1998
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) exhibits and tours Re-take: Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Photography, curated by Kelly Gellatly.

The NGA begins to focus on Asian photographers and photographers in Asia, under a new direction by Gael Newton.

Alasdair Foster is appointed Director of the Australian Centre for Photography. Prior to moving to Australia, Foster was the founding director of Fotofeis, an international biennale of photo-based art in Scotland.

1999
The Cazneaux family donates 350 glass-plate negatives to the National Library of Australia, which follows a donation of 4,000 negatives earlier that decade.

"Second Sight: Australian Photography in the National Gallery of Victoria", curated by Isobel Crombie and Susan van Wyk, NGV, 2003

Second Sight: Australian Photography in the National Gallery of Victoria, curated by Isobel Crombie and Susan van Wyk, NGV, 2003.

2000
Helen Ennis curates Mirror with a memory: Photographic portraiture in Australia at the National Portrait Gallery, and a retrospective exhibition of Olive Cotton’s photographs at Art Gallery of New South Wales.

World Without End: Photography and the 20th Century, curated by Judy Annear, is mounted at the AGNSW.

2002
The National Library of Australia purchases Australian modernist photographer Wolfgang Sievers’ entire photographic archive of 19,000 prints and 52,000 negatives, largely consisting of architectural and industrial subjects. Sievers passes away in 2007.

Alasdair Foster curates Photographica Australis, organised through the Australian Centre for Photography in collaboration with the Australian Embassy in Spain for the ARCO art fair in Madrid. The exhibition goes on to tour to the National Gallery of Thailand in Bangkok (2003), the Singapore Art Museum (2003), the 11th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh (2004) and the the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (2004).

FotoFreo, a major international photography festival, is established by energetic photographers and Fremantle businessman Bob Hewitt. Festivals occurred biennally between 2004 and 2012, including major international figures such as Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Edward Burtynsky and Australians Trent Parke and Narelle Autio, Max Pam and Philip Blenkinsop. In 2013, it was announced that the Festival was closing, following the loss of its major sponsor, the City of Fremantle.

2003
Second Sight: Australian Photography in the National Gallery of Victoria, curated by Isobel Crombie and Susan van Wyk, is mounted at the NGV. The exhibition includes over 100 works drawn from the collection, from Douglas Kilburn’s 1847 daguerreotypes to Pat Brassington’s digital images from 2001. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, integrated throughout the Australian Galleries on Level 2. An introductory text states: “This innovative approach to the exhibition design provides an unprecedented opportunity to view the history of Australian photography within the context of Australian art. A dialogue is created which contributes to the discussion about the place of photography in the history of artistic and creative practice in Australia.”

Helen Ennis curates In a New Light: Australian Photography 1850s-1930s at the National Library of Australia, the first of two-part exhibition, with more than 300 photographs.

A summer retrospective of Tracey Moffatt’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2003–04) breaks the museum’s attendance records.

Man Ray exhibition at AGNSW, co-curated by Judy Annear and Emmanuelle de L’Ecotais, Curator of Photography at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The exhibition tours to the NGV.

2004
Helen Ennis curates the second part of In a New Light, Australian Photography 1930s-2000 at the National Library of Australia. A major publication based on the two exhibitions, Intersections: Photography, History and the National Library of Australia is billed as “the first representative survey of the Library’s photographic holdings”.

The Queensland Centre for Photography, directed by Maurice Ortega, is opened by Queensland Arts Minister Anna Bligh in the Brisbane suburb of Bulimba on May 28. The inaugural exhibitions were On Location, curated by Angela Goddard, with Gia Mitchell, Scott Redford, Chris Handran, Martin Smith, Christian Thompson and Jose Da Silva; and Aspects with Gordon Undy, Sue Callister, Jemina Dunn, Fred Hunt and Greg Wyatt.

2005

Bill Henson, "Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography", installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

Bill Henson, Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography, installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

Bill Henson, "Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography", installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

Bill Henson, Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography, installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

Bill Henson, "Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography", installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

Bill Henson, Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography, installation view at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005.

The Centre for Contemporary Photography, under the direction of Naomi Cass (appointed 2004) relocates from 205 Johnston Street to 404 George Street, Fitzroy, into larger premises designed by Sean Godsell Architects.

A major retrospective of Bill Henson’s work (Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography) is exhibited at the AGNSW, initiated by Director Edmund Capon and selected by the artist and curator Judy Annear. The exhibition tours to the NGV.

Helen Ennis curates Margaret Michaelis, Love, loss and photography at the National Gallery of Australia.

"Light Sensitive: Contemporary Australian Photography from the Loti Smorgon Fund", National Gallery of Victoria, 2006.

Light Sensitive: Contemporary Australian Photography from the Loti Smorgon Fund, National Gallery of Victoria, 2006.

2006
The National Library of Australia commences its online collection of citizen photography, Picture Australia.

Light Sensitive: Contemporary Australian Photography from the Loti Smorgon Fund, is mounted at the NGV.

The first Queensland Festival of Photography is organised for September and October. Subsequent festivals were held in 2008, 2010 & 2012.

2007
AGNSW publishes a Photography Collection Handbook.

Helen Ennis curates Reveries: Photography and Mortality for the National Portrait Gallery.

Zara Stanhope curates Perfect for Every Occasion: Photography Today at Heide Museum of Modern Art, featuring recent work from eighteen Australian artists “depicting and documenting private and public worlds in subjective ways”.

2008
An exhibition of Bill Henson’s photographs at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney is raided by police, following a complaint from child sexual assault advocate Hetty Johnson. Artworks are removed as evidence in the face of an accusation that the photographs of adolescent girls constituted child pornography. A media frenzy erupts, with the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd describing the works as “revolting”. No charges are laid against the artist.

"Contact: Photographs from the Australian War Memorial Collection", curated by Shaune Lakin, 2008.

Contact: Photographs from the Australian War Memorial Collection by Shaune Lakin, 2008.

Picture Paradise: Asia-Pacific photography 1840s-1940s at the NGA, curated by Gael Newton. With photography from India and Sri Lanka, Southeast and East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, to the West Coast of North America.

Publication of Contact: Photographs from the Australian War Memorial Collection, written by Shaune Lakin.

2010
The annual Head On photography festival commences in Sydney.

2011
Photography & Place: Australian Landscape Photography 1970s until Now (2011) curated by Judy Annear, is mounted at the AGNSW.

Alasdair Foster resigns from the Australian Centre for Photography, where he had been Director for thirteen years and developed an extensive touring program – notably into Asia.

Installation image, "The Photograph and Australia", curated by Judy Annear, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2015

Installation image, The Photograph and Australia, curated by Judy Annear, AGNSW, 2015 (Photo: Daniel Palmer).

2013
Malaysian/Australian artist Simryn Gill represents Australia at the Venice Biennale, with photographic and sculptural work.

2014
A retrospective of Sue Ford (1943–2009) at the NGV brings together photographs, digital prints, collages and films created over nearly fifty-years.

Photography Meets Feminism: Australian Women Photographers 1970s-80s is curated by Shaune Lakin at the Monash Gallery of Art.

The Queensland Centre for Photography closes its South Brisbane premises at the end of April after losing state funding.

2015
The Photograph and Australia, curated by Judy Annear, is mounted at the AGNSW. This major exhibition gathers nineteenth century daguerreotypes, vernacular photographs and contemporary art photography by women and Indigenous artists – destabilizing the dominant modernist history of the medium in Australia.

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Cutting edge-21st-century photography' at MGA

Installation photograph of the exhibition Cutting Edge: 21st-century photography at Monash Gallery of Art

Following Gael Newton’s retirement in 2014, Shaune Lakin is appointed Senior Curator at the NGA, having formerly worked as curator at the Australian War Memorial and Director of the Monash Gallery of Art.

Cutting Edge: 21st-century Photography at the Monash Gallery of Art “features the work of contemporary artists who disrupt the seamless uniformity of screen-based photography by cutting, pinning, folding and puncturing photographic prints.” Artists include Danica Chappell, Eliza Hutchison, Justine Khamara, Paul Knight, Derek Kreckler, David Rosetzky, Jo Scicluna and Vivian Cooper Smith.

2016
Both the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney and Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne lose their recurrent funding through the Australia Council for the Arts as part of a reduction of funding under the Turnbull Coalition government. Both continue to exhibit, the ACP while in a process of relocating from their Oxford Street premises (sold in 2014).

2017
Tracey Moffatt represents Australia at the Venice Biennale.

Cherie McNair is appointed director of the ACP (after a series of interim directors), and a new location opens in Foley Street, Darlinghurst.

Acknowledgements

As well as our own research, this draft timeline is derived from the research of our colleagues Gael Newton, Helen Ennis, Melissa Miles, Natasha Bullock, Alan Davies, Isobel Crombie, Susan van Wyk, Judy Annear, Catherine de Lorenzo, Belinda Hungerford, and Robert Dixon amongst others. All mistakes are ours. This draft is offered as a framework to invite corrections as well as contributions of other significant events, more details, and additional references and sources. Please contact us with corrections and additions.

A bibliography of key reference texts for this timeline can be found here.