4 April 2017

The Photography Room to PhotoAccess

| Paul Costigan
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Canberra’s photography audience has a great choice of exhibitions to visit this month. There is no excuse for not taking the opportunity to take in the photography at The Photography Room in Kingston, at PhotoAccess, and the National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Photography Room: Three exhibition here with Gary Ramage – Afghanistan, Scot Newman – Half Tone; and Rohan Thomson – The Makers.

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Rohan Thomson’s The Makers will catch you out, as he has used the now ‘ancient’ art of the Polaroid and so each image is unique and is small being about 8 by 11 cm. The Makers are caught at work on their craft as well as in a portrait shot. His photographs are wonderful and this exhibition has the benefit of promoting local artists and craftspeople. Another must see exhibition from The Photography Room.


Scot Newman’s exhibition Half Tone is an in-you-face collection of works that magically use the beautiful soft tones of photography. Scot has stopped to make photographs in those places we pass often without taking too much notice – hopefully as we are usually concentrating on driving. He uses images of infrastructure–bridges, concrete barricades etc, to produce photographs of constructed landscapes and of formal shapes that we pass by. Scot definitely has that eye for an image.

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Finally at The Photography Room is an extraordinary exhibition by Gary Ramage – simply titled Afghanistan. Many artists have ventured to this foreign and dangerous place. This photographer has done so and has come back with a powerful set of absolutely beautiful images. He really knows how to capture an image – and then even more importantly he really knows how to print. They are things of beauty to be admired.

While the subject matter for these works are the soldiers on the front line, these images are timeless in their nature. Some of the images, especially the one of soldiers resting in that small open room, reminded me of paintings from many centuries ago.

Gary has captured moments, sometimes laden with anxiety and often moments of peace in this troubled place – and has produced a set of photographs that demonstrate the rich quality of good black and white photography. Do not be fooled that you can view any of these images online and know what they are about – you have to see these photographs in the flesh to really appreciate their aesthetics and formal qualities. A must see for anyone with an interest in photography.

And when you finished at The Photography Room – take a walk through Telopea Park to the Manuka end and visit PhotoAccess and enjoy their members’ exhibition – Common Ground.

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The theme was handed out to members and they have collectively put together this exhibition of 35 photographic translations of the topic – Common Ground. And the results are truly varied with all manner of locations being included as the basis for their works. I came away thinking that photography is alive and well in Canberra and PhotoAccess has presented a well-crafted exhibition of photographs that many will enjoy for a host of reasons – given the variety of approaches in the works.

And – when you have done all that – get yourself over to the Portrait Gallery to see the 2017 National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition. There’s a fee to enter – plus if you want to avoid parking fees as well – go on the weekend.


This year’s selection is a little more sedate when compared to some of the previous ones. But it is truly classic portrait photography at its best. It is a must see exhibition. Above: The winning portrait of Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay by Gary Grealy.


The Photography Room: The three exhibitions till 7 May 2017; Sunday 10am – 4pm at the Kingston Bus Depot Markets.

PhotoAccess: Common Ground till 23 April 2017; open times – Tues-Thurs 10am-4pm, Fri 10am-7pm, Weekends 12pm-4pm.

National Portrait Gallery: National Photographic Portrait Prize, open daily till 18 June.

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Paul Costigan11:30 am 07 Apr 17

A follow up note to the exhibition by Gary Ramage – Afghanistan – at The Photography Room.

It was great to see that the Australian War Memorial has purchased a selection of Gary’s works. A timely reminder that the staff at the AWM are continuing to add to their very significant national collection of photography and visual arts. Well done AWM – and to The Photography Room for having these quality exhibitions.

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