Sydney Morning Herald Column

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Head On 2015

May 15, 2015

When a show draws a huge crowd to the Town Hall on a rainy Friday night it is testimony to Sydney’s booming interest in photography. The occasion was the opening of Head On, the annual photo festival that has grown to colossal proportions over the past few years. The influx of photographers and fans from … More


Anzac Shows, New Zealand

May 2, 2015

Australia is allegedly spending $325 million on the commemoration of the First World War. This figure, we are told, is more than twice what the British have allocated, and 20 times the budget for events in New Zealand. Some will see this is a waste of money at a time when the government is preaching … More


Trent Parke

April 25, 2015

Death and the photo are close relations, as every click of the camera records a moment that will never be repeated. What we tend to admire in a photographer is the ability to transcend this inherent morbidity, to take the stuff of everyday life and shape it into something strange and marvellous. No photographer could … More


Robert Campbell Jr.

April 18, 2015

Artbank, the Australian government’s art rental agency, has been around since 1980. It was an initiative of a Fraser administration returned to power for a third consecutive term that year – a reminder of an era when both sides of politics took an active interest in the arts. By contrast, today’s politicians seem completely devoid … More


David Lynch

April 11, 2015

For 35 years David Lynch has been an enthusiastic devotee of Transcendental Meditation. “This field within, this field of pure consciousness” he tells curator, José Da Silva, “has qualities and those qualities are: unbounded intelligence, unbounded creativity, unbounded happiness, unbounded love, unbounded energy and unbounded peace. It’s all positive there within – the big treasury!” … More


The Photograph and Australia

April 4, 2015

Some exhibitions should come with a ‘Buyer Beware’ warning. Many will go along to The Photograph and Australia at the Art Gallery of NSW expecting to see a comprehensive historical survey of Australian photography. The AGNSW has encouraged such expectations by using well-known images by David Moore and Olive Cotton in its publicity material. In … More


Roy Jackson

March 28, 2015

In an era when art has plumbed new depths of frivolity, Roy Jackson (1944-2013) was almost too serious for his own good. He stubbornly believed the only thing that counted was the quality of the work, not the ephemeral ego gratifications artists enjoy during their 15 minutes of fame. He wasn’t even sure about the … More


Art Basel Hong Kong 2015

March 21, 2015

At the Cocktail Reception that followed the Private View of this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong the Swiss luxury brand, Davidoff, was handing out free cigars. It proved a wildly popular giveaway. The entire party, held around the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt, was wreathed in a fog of cigar smoke. A food queue … More


Shaun Gladwell

March 14, 2015

Watching the inexorable rise of Shaun Gladwell over the past decade makes me feel like the only teetotaler at a drunken party. After absorbing many hours of video, I still don’t get it. When everyone was gasping about Storm Sequence (2000) – a slow-motion film of Gladwell on a skateboard, I thought it was stupefying. … More


Perth Festival Art 2015

March 7, 2015

Over the past few years the Perth Festival has established a reputation for an adventurous visual arts program. This is in contrast to most of the arts festivals around Australia, which are dominated by the performing arts. Even Adelaide, which has had a long-term commitment to the visual arts, has dispensed with its regular Artists’ … More


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