Heide’s Canberra a hotbed of intellectualism and creativity

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AS far as photographer Heide Smith is concerned, it is quite obvious, Canberra is a hotbed of  intellectualism and creativity. 

Last week “CityNews” popped over to the Canberra Museum and Gallery to see Robyn Archer launching Heide Smith’s newest book, “Portrait of Canberra and of Canberrans, 1979 – 2012,”  a 220 page hard cover book  containing approximately 230 black and white and colour images of landscapes and portraits. You can see the  Who’s Who turned out by looking at our social photographs this week.

And no wonder. Anyone the formidable Smith has photographed, from journos to judges, is someone with character, and that includes several hard-working tradespeople she has photographed affectionately.

Mostly, she likes the famous Canberrans and that’s what makes it such “a good read.”

You’ll find the late “mandarins,” “Nugget” Coombs and Arthur Tange.

Predictably enough, there’s a whole swag of politicians, including Malcolm Fraser, Billy Snedden, Kate Lundy, Lionel Murphy, Margaret Reid and all the ACT’s chief ministers.

But there’s no getting away from it,  of the most poignant portraits are of leading figures in the arts, many of them looking fresh and youthful as they embark on their brilliant careers.

There’s a young, dark haired NGA director Betty Churcher, a smiling Bryce Courtenay, the fortepianist Geoffrey Lancaster as if conducting, classical guitarist Tim Kain with flautist Virginia Taylor looking as if they are just teenagers, a stern,  professorial Larry Sitsky, a winsome Marion Halligan, an exuberant Domenic Mico in full clown face-paint,  and, in a very recent photo, Argentine pianist Marcela Fiorillo wrapped in musical notes.

You’ll find the country’s leading thinkers,  like the late Mark Oliphant, Frank Fenner and Manning and Dymphna Clark, whose former home in Forrest will be the scene of a small exhibition of archival prints from Smith’s new book from this Sunday.

Smith is quite an institution in Canberra, and has been photographing Canberra for more than 34 years. Few  will forget her series of portraits of prominent women, including then Federal Minister Ros Kelly, swathed in red cloth.

But in spite of her love for  Canberra, she  and her husband Brian have lived in Narooma since 1998, though she  continues to photograph families and celebrities.

Heide Smith, selected  portraits of well-known Canberrans, at Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle Forrest, opens at 4pm, Sunday, September 30 to October 6.

Readers should note the following advice from the organisers: “Manning Clark House chooses not to pass on exhibition costs to their artists. We charge a modest entry fee to the opening to cover catering. Entry: $10 ($7 members).”




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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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