Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two New Exhibits at the National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is currently running an exhibit entitled Picture Paradise: Asia-Pacific Photography 1840s-1940s (11 July - 9 Nov. 2008) and will be showing Gods, ghosts and men: Pacific arts from the National Gallery of Australia (10 Oct. 2008 - 11 January 2009). Thanks are owed to Robin Hide for bringing the latter to my attention.

  • While it is unclear if any photographs of Melanesian communities are included in the show, Picture Paradise is notable for its broad comparative perspective. As the website relates:

This is the first exhibition to survey the history of photography of our region – from India and Sri Lanka, Southeast and East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands to the west coast of North America. It features pioneer local photographers as well as Europeans working in the region. The exhibition reveals the rich heritage and the many outstanding achievements of the first century of photography in the Asia–Pacific region.

This significant gathering of over four hundred original photographs and albums includes gem-like daguerreotype portraits, mass-produced views and portraits on paper made possible by the revolutionary wet-plate and dry-plate glass negative-positive process, and prints from the modern era of small format film cameras and photojournalism.

Picture Paradise presents works from seventeen public and private collections in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the United States of America, many never previously loaned or exhibited. The majority of these works are from the National Gallery of Australia’s extensive photography collection and include the rarely seen nearly ten-metre-long Holtermann panorama of Sydney Harbour from 1875.

the first major exhibition of Pacific Arts to be held in Australia for over twenty years. Embracing the diverse artistic traditions of Polynesia and Melanesia, studying the greatest works of mainly unnamed artists, the exhibition draws upon the world-class Pacific Arts collection of the National Gallery of Australia. Pacific Arts from the NGA collection includes many works that have never been seen by the Australian public.

There are a number of associated lectures (mostly at 12.45 pm), performances, and workshops etc. For fuller details, see

The lectures include:

14 Oct. Curator’s perspective, Crispin Howarth

16 Oct. From harakeke to huaki. Dr Patricia Te Arapo Wallace

22 Oct. To collect or not to collect. Dr Barry Craig

25 Oct. Abelam art. Dr Diane Losche

13 Nov. The conservation of plant materials in Pacific arts objects. Sarah McHugh

18 Nov. Concealed knowledge and hidden histories. Crispin Howarth.

2 Dec. Spirits of the sea; art from the Solomon Islands. Kevin Conru

4 Dec. Sacred pigs: ritual and materialised spirits in Vanuatu. Dr Kirk Huffman

6 Dec. A trans-Tasman kahukuri (Maori dog-skin cloak). Keren Ruki

Other Pacific talks etc at the Gallery (at 2.0 pm) include:

7 Sept. First Contact showing introduced by Dr Chris Ballard

12 Oct. Documenting early Fiji: photography in Levuka in the late nineteetnth century. Dr Rod Ewins

18 Oct. Visualising history: dance, film and phosphate in the Pacific. Dr Katerina Teaiwa.

1 comment:

Robin Hide said...

Joshua writes: "While it is unclear if any photographs of Melanesian communities are included in the show, Picture Paradise .."
The exhibition does include a few Melanesian photos - off the top of my head, there are some intriguing early ones from Fiji, and a few from Papua New Guinea- including 19th C ones from Lindt, and 20th C ones by Max Dupain and others.