28 February 2014
Last updated at 21:46 ET
The "Australian vernacular photography" exhibition at Sydney’s Art Gallery NSW aims to examine "some of the changes in Australian culture and photographic styles over the past five decades", says curator Eleanor Weber. Here Gerrit Fokkema with his 1983 image of a tattooed young man on a suburban street aims to illustrate ideas of isolation and boredom in Australia.
Other photographs, like Anne Zahalma's 2007 image, try to capture the concept of place, identity and culture. The image of three women wearing burqinis on Cronulla beach was made in response to the Cronulla riots of 2005, which was a boiling point for racial tensions in the Sydney suburb.
Sue Ford's 1963 picture of a friend with her hair in curlers and plugged into a portable hair dryer in her kitchen exemplifies Australian women in the early 1960s focussed on attracting husbands. Meanwhile, the cigarette and alcohol in the image acknowledge the emerging women’s liberation movement.
Glenn Sloggett's 1996 photograph depicts isolation and abandonment on the fringes of Australian urban centres."No matter where I go, I always find places and environments that are in the process of falling down," he said, adding that these were the images that resonated with him most strongly as an artist.
Other photographers adopt a more frank and confronting style. William Yang’s image of a chunk of kangaroo meat sitting on top of a kitchen counter in 2000 is part of a series about food. The image also includes recognisable Australian staples like Wonder White bread and Weet-Bix.
For his part, Jeff Carter aims to show the unknown, and his photographs depict frank, unflattering images of Australian life, such as this image of a beach-goer in the 1960s. "To me the camera is simply an unrivalled reporter’s tool,” the late artist said of his work in 2010. (Text: Katie Beck)