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Australia Now: Light Years & ON FILM - PhotoAccess, Canberra

By Sean Davey



Light Years & ON FILM

PhotoAccess presents in the Huw Davies Gallery two new exhibitions exploring the possibilities and parameters of film photography.


Opening 6pm Thursday 29 January 2015

Exhibition dates 29 January - 22 February 2015.



Our first members' exhibition for 2015, ON FILM showcases work by over 30 photographers creatively addressing the role of film.


Light Years

Light Years presents works drawn from the archive of the late Lin Richardson, a new acquisition to the PhotoAccess collection. Richardson’s works capture fragments of Canberra during the early 1970s, documenting festivals, protests, as well as aspects the photographer’s own personal life. Reflecting on the slippery truth and intimacy of the photographic image, six contemporary artists present new work in response to the archive. Artists: Madeline Bishop, Rowan Conroy, Hayley King, Mark Mohell, Scot Newman, Arthur (Lin) Richardson and Genevieve Swifte.


Public Programs


Light Years in conversation event

2pm Sunday 8 February

Light Years artists in conversation with Program Manager Claire Capel-Stanley.


Light Years story share

2pm Sunday 22 February

Stories inspired by images from the Lin Richardson archive, shared by RIP Publishing, a Canberra-based independent publisher producing participatory and collaborative content. Follow the RIP Publishing Light Years blog series. 

PhotoAccess in Canberra has kicked off their 2015 exhibition program with two shows that celebrate the medium of film in still photography. On Film is the first Members’ Exhibition of the year (PhotoAccess runs two exhibitions every year, giving all members of the organisation the opportunity to exhibit work and show the community what they are working on) and includes a broad range of film based works, as well as works that celebrate the place of film in past and contemporary photography practice. With continuing film and darkroom workshops offered at PhotoAccess, this is a well-placed exhibition that will hopefully inspire and excite photographers and visitors alike to explore the magic of darkroom photography practice. Resident PhotoAccess all-round handy man and darkroom tutor Robert Agostino is exhibiting two intimate prints in the exhibition that were printed in the PhotoAccess darkroom, as too is recent student Daryl Alexander who only recently completed the Advanced Black and White Darkroom workshop, with a stunning 16”x20” fibre print of a photograph that he made on a recent trip to India. Member exhibitions at PhotoAccess will always be a melting pot of different work, both in style and quality. As a community organisation and public art gallery, PhotoAccess does a positive job in promoting quality work to it’s visitors, while also encouraging less experienced photographers to put their work in public view. On Film is one of the more accomplished members’ exhibitions that the gallery has shown in recent times, and well worth a look.

Light Years is the second exhibition currently on show in the Huw Davies Gallery, and is a more tightly curated exhibition that focuses on an archive left by photographer Lin Richardson after his recent death. Richardson was a computer scientist based in Canberra as well as a passionate and accomplished amateur photographer. In 2014, Richardson’s daughter approached PhotoAccess with an archive of prints and negatives, unsure of what exactly to do with the voluminous amount of work left behind by her father. After a period of consideration about what to do with the archive, Programs and Education Manager Claire Capel-Stanley invited six Canberra artists to respond to the Richardson archive (or part of it) with a work of their own.

Light Years is a move in the right direction for PhotoAccess, displaying a level of consideration and curatorship that will undoubtedly continue with future exhibitions and programs, spearheaded by Director Jan Falsone and newly appointed Program and Education Manager Claire Capel-Stanley. Claire’s essay for the exhibition is a great starting point as background to the exhibition.

An absolute highlight of Light Years is a modest, hand-made book of photographs by Rowan Conroy titled Square Photos. A Lecturer in Photography at the ANU School of Art, Rowan trawled Lin’s 6x6 negatives to make this book, scanning over 160 of them to curate a personal collection of Lin’s works. Rowan’s final selection for the book contains 50 or so black and white images from Australia and the USA, offering a level of respect and appreciation for Lin’s work that is unmatched in the exhibition or otherwise. The laborious process that Rowan undertook to make this book (one of two artist books) was not lost on this visitor when it was held in the hands, and given time to go though from first page to last. Seeing that this book will only be on display for a limited time, I would recommend a visit to the exhibition to see Rowan’s book alone. Another captivating work in the show is Subtraction by Scot Newman, who has chosen one negative of Lin’s and printed it large scale, with small sections of the same print enlarged and hung next to the large print. Scot’s work, with its red and yellow highlighted lines, focus attention on the areas of the image that Scot has obviously found to be of interest. Seeing the enlargements of the picture gives a brooding, somewhat ASIO feel to the otherwise innocent scene) photographed at the National Library of Australia. The investigative nature of Scot’s process with only one image, added by the blow-up treatment given to it, does produce a rather voyeuristic and mysterious work of art.

Although Light Years is laid out nicely in the somewhat crammed Multimedia Gallery (the secondary gallery at PhotoAccess) the quality of this exhibition does indeed raise the call for PhotoAccess’ current location to be seriously addressed by the local government. Talk of PhotoAccess moving to new premises at Kingston Foreshore has been going on for a number of years, without action. As the wider appreciation for photography grows, exhibitions at PhotoAccess that show significant depth, curatorial direction and ties to the community, such as Light Years, will inevitably argue the case for the issue of PhotoAccess’ permanent relocation to be addressed sooner rather than later.


Check this out:

On Film catalogue

Light Years catalogue


Images Credits: Courtesy and © Sean Davey, 2015.

Images 1-4 installation shots from Light Years

Images 5-10 installation shots from ON FILM