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Last week I attended the State Library of NSW for the opening of a new auditorium and a photography gallery. I confess to feeling a little under-dressed when I walked in without a jacket to a sea of well-to-do donors and dignitaries. However, I teamed up with Michael Amendolia who was similarly attired and we were obviously 'photographers'.
However, unlike me who was invited as a member of the press, Michael was invited as one of 200 photographers whose work appears in the inaugural photography gallery exhibition titled Shot. There are 400 photographs from 200 photographers that span three centuries. I stole one of the exhibition catalogues for a quick read and was delighted to see the past curator of photography Alan Davies being given credit for the Library's amazing photography collection - around 2 million items.
Wrote Dr John Vallance FAHA, the outgoing State Librarian (and whom I went to school with many years ago - he was always a lot smarter than me), "Special thanks, though, go to a former member of the Library staff who defined our modern approach to the collection of photography, worked to encourage the careers of countless photographers, and demonstrated the importance of the medium in the documentation of the mundane just as much as the extraordinary. The spirit of Alan Davies is very much alive here." And I'm one of the photographers who benefited from Alan's advice.
Writes the current senior curator of photography, Geoffrey Barker, "Shot takes an expansive, fascinating excursion across the history of the photographic image and its technology in Australia. On display are examples of nearly every format used since the inception of photography in 1839, from the earliest surviving photography in Australia, a daguerreotype taken in 1845, through to ambrotypes, calotypes, autotypes, glass-plate netatives, Paget plates, albumum prints, autochromes and digital photographs."
It's a great exhibition, wonderfully presented and the new gallery is simply excellent. I'm just waiting to be discovered and invited to exhibit there myself one day! And note that this is the State Library, not the State Art Gallery. Next time you're in Sydney city, check it out! The exhibition will be on until the end of October next year (2024).