By Belinda Hungerford
If any of you have ventured into ACP over the last month or so you would have experienced our new Social Space. The bright yellow wall is hard to miss, alongside the large-scale image of Margaret Whitlam opening ACP’s first exhibition in 1974 and a long table featuring a commissioned artwork by collage artist Kubi Vasak, it is a space where people can sit, hang out, read or chat. It’s also a great place to display some items from ACP’s archives.
In the archives there is a substantial quantity of original posters advertising the exhibitions ACP has held over the years and the availability of a blank wall was too good an opportunity to pass up and to get some of these posters out for people to see. The early posters from the 70s were printed in black and white and have a clean, simplified design, with an appeal that still resonates today. Currently we have on display Sidetripping – Charles Gatewood (1976), American Photographs 1975-1976 – Grant Mudford (1977), Max Dupain Retrospective 1930-1975 (1975), Aspects of Australian Photography – Ian Dodd, Ken Middleton, Grant Mudford, Max Pam, Phillip Quirk, John Walsh (1974), Recent Photographs – Lee Friedlander (1977), and Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Henri Mallard (1976).
Harry Williamson designed all the early information and promotional material for ACP including the ACP logo, stationery, publications and the posters. He was also a founding member of ACP (you can even catch a glimpse of him in the bottom right hand corner of the Margaret Whitlam image). Harry is an award-winning designer who, amongst other things, is known for designing the ‘Mawson’ $100 note and the Bicentennial commemorative $10 note. But back during the days of the formation of ACP he was sharing a studio with David Moore (and Gordon Andrews). I contacted Harry recently to ask him about his memories of the posters.
Harry explained that he and David Moore worked on many projects together and developed a collaborative working relationship with a certain amount of respect for each other’s areas of interest and expertise. David was appreciative of Harry’s attitude to visual things and how they might be managed (as a method for refining a communication). But Harry feels he got the better end of the deal, learning so much about photography and photographers through David.
In terms of choosing images for posters or publications, Harry relates that working with David “I would of course be guided by his insights about the photographic essence and intention and reference of an image, but he would listen to my input about the graphic, communicative quality."
I was particularly curious about the design of the poster for the Max Dupain retrospective held at ACP in 1975, featuring what became Dupain’s most recognisable image (much to his chagrin), Sunbaker (1937). In his book ‘Each Wild Idea’ (MIT Press, 2002), esteemed photography curator and writer Geoffrey Batchen proposed that the inclusion of Sunbaker in the retrospective at ACP was probably the first time the image had been publicly exhibited. Since then it has become embedded in Australia’s consciousness. Harry recalls that one of the other images considered for the poster was Dupain’s At Newport (1952). It is tantalising to wonder whether this image would have reached the iconic status of Sunbaker had it been chosen for the exhibition poster.
Coming soon to ACP’s retail space is the opportunity to purchase your own ACP poster. Shortly there will be ‘hot off the press’ copies of the Max Dupain, Henri Mallard and William Yang’s Sydneyphiles posters for sale!
Image 1: Harry Williamson (on right) in David Moore's studio discussing the formation of ACP with Peter Keys and Wesley Stacey (L-R), c.1971. Image © David Moore Photography Archive
Image 2: ACP's Social Space, 2015. Image © ACP and Michael Waite
Images 3&4: Vintage ACP posters. Image © ACP and Michael Waite
Image 5: Will Young's Sydneyphiles (1977) poster. © ACP Archives and courtesy William Yang