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Northern NSW communities in the picture

28 JUNE 2005

A collection of striking images from three leading Australian photographers exploring the distinctive cultural and social diversity of communities in the north west of New South Wales opens at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra this week.

The exhibition, Our Community - Great Place To Be, focuses on life in Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Angledool. The exhibition looks at the concept of 'community' and ideas of Aboriginal identity and self-representation within the broader multicultural rural community.

The exhibition's 55 photos are the work of Juno Gemes, Sharon Aldrick and Ron Blake - who worked closely with the area's indigenous and multicultural communities over a six-year period.

Pooaraar, a display which includes 22 pen-and-wash drawings by the Aboriginal artist Pooaraar (Bevan Hayward), will also open this week. The drawings from the Museum's collection illustrate a 1996 book by Canberra poet Geoff Page, The Great Forgetting.

Senator Gary Humphries will open the exhibitions at 10am on Thursday, 30 June on the eve of NAIDOC Week. Both exhibitions are located in the First Australians Focus Gallery and will run until January, 2006.

'Both these exhibitions are examples of indigenous and non-indigenous people coming together to create something - as long-lasting as a community or as imaginative as a book of poetry,' said Museum director Craddock Morton.

After the opening, a workshop chaired by UTS Professor Larissa Behrendt on 'the meaning of community' will take place in the Visions Theatre, starting at 2pm. Community members pictured in the exhibition will participate.

On the following day, Friday, 1 July, the Museum will run a forum - History Through A Lens - in the Visions Theatre from 9am to 5pm. Speakers include:

  • Musician James Henry and poet Victor Beale
  • photographers Sharon Aldrick, Ron Blake and Juno Gemes
  • filmmakers Sean Kennedy and Frances Peters-Little - Our Community curator
  • academics Dr Catherine De Lorenzo on community photography and activism in Redfern; Professor Nicolas Peterson on the Yolngu community photographed by David Thomson from 1935 to 1942; Dr Jane Lydon on current indigenous uses of colonial photography and Professor Heather Goodall on communities reclaiming historical and anthropological photos.

For interviews, images or full forum program, please contact Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or email media@nma.gov.au