When I wrote a similar piece to this a year ago, I expressed a hope that we could look forward to a lot of great photography to enjoy with our 2020 vision.
Despite everything, there has been a significant number of good public photography exhibitions throughout our city. I have reviewed 24 of them for this newspaper, plus one that was held in Goulburn. There are a number of others that I have seen but not reviewed here and some I missed. How were so many exhibitions possible with the restrictions imposed on galleries? Seven of the reviewed exhibitions commenced before any restrictions. Only one was totally online. Others took place during periods of restrictions, but galleries were innovative in their approaches. The remaining restrictions create no real barriers for galleries.
Having launched an excellent online gallery, PhotoAccess continued to use it in conjunction with physical exhibitions while visitor numbers were greatly restricted. The use of recorded conversations with exhibitors, audio and video pieces contributed by other exhibitors, and links to ArtSound FM interviews was a clever response. Some other galleries also went online with virtual exhibitions. PhotoAccess also conducted openings outside letting small numbers go into the gallery at a time during those openings. One exhibition was actually "hung" in the outside space.
Another outdoors gallery came into being during the year with the establishment of Exhibition Avenue on the ANU campus. The first, and still continuing, exhibition there is photography that can be viewed 24 hours a day. The passing foot traffic is substantial so I expect many people have looked at the works on display, whereas they may not have visited an indoors gallery space.
It was disappointing that restrictions prevented the Canberra Photographic Society (CPS) from properly celebrating its 75th anniversary during 2020. We were denied the opportunity of seeing something special.
Canberra photographer Judy Parker took out the $10,000 Mullins Conceptual Photography Prize. Several other locals were also finalists. Two other Canberra photographers took out prizes in a national 2020 Photobook of the Year competition. And Parker was named as CPS Photographer of the Year.
Two photographers received 2020 ACT Arts Awards. Sophie Dumaresq received an award for her exhibition The Hairy Panic at Nishi Gallery during Art, Not Apart, comprising photographs of a land art installation on grasslands surrounding Lake George, plus tumbleweed sculptures. Two images from that exhibition were finalists in the 2020 MCPP, and one a finalist in the Goulburn Art Prize.
Grace Costa received an award for being the driving force behind the exhibition The Journey Through by 11 Canberra-region artists at PhotoAccess, showing the results of exploring, confronting and sharing their personal stories during an eight-month workshop.
Let's hope that 2021 brings us more great photography exhibitions, events and achievements, including the emergence of new local talents.