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Canberra Today 13°/15° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

From a million images, ‘national photo album’ goes on show

William Yang, “Rainbow Angel Wings, New Mardi Gras,” 2003.

AN exhibition of “the national photo album” was unveiled at the National Library this morning (September 14).

On hand was the director-general of the library, Marie Louise Ayres, who noted that while most humans have taken a picture or had their picture taken, the direction and volume of those pictures had changed.

“Ubiquitous” though snapping photos was, she said she felt she could describe the library’s photographic collection of around 1 million items as a complex snapshot of the changes that have taken place in the world —”the national photo album”.

The 125 images in this exhibition reveal a changing Australia as lives of migrants, shearers, dancers, miners, gardeners, surfers and knitters are all captured by celebrated documentary photographers.

Flemington Eagles Striker Osman, representing the Flemington High Rise Housing Commission Flats, lets fly with a corner cross, Atherton Reserve, Fitzroy, Victoria, 2005. Photo: Dave Tacon

Joining  Dr Ayres were exhibition curator Matthew Jones, who looked at tens of thousands of images in the national collection when preparing the exhibition and accompanying book, and Walkley-winning photographer, Dave Tacon, whose images feature in the exhibition.

Webster gave a quick description to those present of an exhibition that dealt with the way Australians live – from everyday people to celebrities, covering traditional images of farmers and bronzed bodies to members of the public demonstrating and celebrating.

But while revealing the change our society has undergone in the last 50 years, he explained, the exhibition, arranged in thematic titles, was also a survey of “the nature of photography” that showed how the digital revolution had vastly increased our ability to visually document and see our world.

“Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now,” National Library September 15 to March 13. 

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Helen Musa

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