Perth Festival

March 2, 2013
Ross Manning, Spectra lll, 2012, Coloured fluorescent lamp, motorised fan, power board, extension cable, wood, rope. Installation view: National New Media Art Award 2012, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 3 Aug–4 Nov 2012.

With the mercury touching 40 degrees for days on end, a major attraction of the art component this year’s Perth Festival was its display in air-conditioned rooms. ‘Light’ was the overarching theme of the festival shows, although it was a relief to get out of the glare of the sun into an environment where illumination … More

Bill Henson

September 15, 2012
Bill Henson, Untitled #8, 2011/2012, archival inkjet pigment print 127 × 180cm

No living Australian artist has a higher international profile than Bill Henson, but the esteem in which he is held overseas has not been matched at home. For a large part of the population his name conjures up the darkest, most terrifying associations. Ever since the furore of 2008, when Henson was accused of child … More


September 15, 2012
Eugene Atget Rue de l'Hotel de Ville, 1921

Eugène Atget (1857-1927) is often seen as a ‘primitive’ of the camera – photography’s equivalent to the Douanier Rousseau, but this is not a fair comparison. The Douanier was a simple soul, Atget was an equally lonely figure but also a sophisticated, skillful exponent of an art form still struggling for recognition. Although he never … More

Growing up with Goannas

June 23, 2012
Mark Tedeschi,  Corey Payne, NRL player for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

A few months ago I advised a friend not to labour over her blog, but to write smaller, more spontaneous pieces and publish more frequently. Unfortunately, it seems I’m completely incapable of following my own good advice. The perennial gap between theory and practice – or should that be good intentions and reality? – has begun … More

Bill Cunningham New York

November 12, 2011
Film Still, Bill Cunningham New York

There are many occasions in this film when one begins to wonder: “Is Bill Cunningham actually, clinically, mad?” Never in the course of a human life-time has so much energy and enthusiasm been expended on a subject that many would regard as trivial, superficial or blatantly commercial – the fashion industry. After watching this documentary … More

Bill Henson

April 9, 2011
Bill Henson photo

Most artists would be delighted to find a TV news crew at their exhibition, but last week in Melbourne a Channel Ten reporter and her entourage were not allowed to film the first night of Bill Henson’s new show at Tolarno Galleries. Because television reporters apparently have a God-given right to go anywhere, the indignation … More

Photography & Place & An Edwardian Summer

April 2, 2011
Screen shot 2012-06-30 at 9.52.29 PM

In 1975 the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, hosted the exhibition: New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. It is still talked about as one of the most influential shows of the modern era, with an index of its significance being that second-hand copies of the original catalogue now change hands for … More

Pride and Passion

March 19, 2011

Photographic Portraits of Fairfield by Danny Huynh Multiculturalism isn’t folk dancing, it’s the stoning of adulterers. Anthony Daniels. ‘Multiculturalism’ is one of the most contested terms in our modern liberal democracy. For some commentators it represents a sentimental dream of folk dances, national costumes and ethnic cuisine. Others see it as a mask for religious … More

Jeff Carter

February 12, 2011
Jeff Carter, Joie de vivre, Sydney, 1963 Digital (inkjet) photographic print PXD 1070/no. 75

Ideally we expect a steely detachment from our arts professionals, but Barry Pearce, the retiring Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW, recently admitted that he couldn’t be objective about the works of Justin O’Brien. At the State Library last week I had the same feeling about the late Jeff Carter, one … More

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life

November 27, 2010
Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris, 2002

Annie Leibovitz’s career reads like one long cautionary tale on the fickleness of fame – a condition the poet, Rilke, famously described as “the sum of all misunderstandings”. As the world’s leading photographer of celebrities she has become a celebrity in her own right. This is the main reason her exhibition at the Museum of … More