Photography 130: behind the scenes – one week to opening night

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Photography 130 installation: Curator Dr Shane Hulbert with Matthew Sleeth’s 3D photographic printing work ‘Scale Model For Still Life, 2009’.

The RMIT Gallery walls have been carefully repainted pristine white or the deepest black. Photographic works are tightly sealed in bubble wrap ready to be manoeuvred into position. The intense buzz of activity sweeps through the space. It is one week to the exhibition opening and anticipation is high.

RMIT Gallery’s exhibition Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT (10 March – 13 April) opens on Thursday 9 March 6-8 pm, with a very appropriate speaker – Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO RMIT Chancellor – who was CEO of  Kodak Australasia during the 1990s. In fact, at the same time the exhibition curator Dr Shane Hulbert was also working at Kodak.

“Our paths never crossed,” muses Dr Hulbert. “But it would have been a nice connection!”

Indeed.  Photography 130 features more than one hundred photographic works by 70 artists and photographers who have trained at RMIT, charting works that reflect the development of photography and its teaching at the University over the past 130 years, in what remains one of the longest running photographic programs in the world.

Dr Hulbert says during that time RMIT’s photographic training has made a significant impact on the way that people have viewed and photographed Melbourne and Australia, and the way that they have worked with photography around the world.

“Photography was one of the foundation disciplines of the Working Men’s College back in 1887, and women were welcome to enrol in those classes and not just photography classes but any of the classes that were offered,” Dr Hulbert said.

“In the 19th century the entire process of photography was laborious and skillful, and relied on knowledge of optics, mechanics and chemistry. People weren’t able to go down the street and buy film, or buy a camera, those things had to be constructed.

“People had to purchase lenses and tripods (often using surveyor tripods) and then organise the glass plates and coat them with chemicals, make the exposure, and then process those plates and then make those prints.”

According to Dr Hulbert, the exhibition is not prescriptive in capturing every staff member or every student who did photography at RMIT. It doesn’t even attempt to capture every decade, rather it reflects on certain key moments, certain clusters and periods that have shaped the future of photography at the University.

“One of the things that we talk about in photography is the way that we see and frame the world. What’s also sitting behind the lens is the person who takes the photograph, and how they compose and frame the world that they see.

“The idea behind someone who’s trained in photography is that they have a sense of the language and the understanding of the way that the photographic medium is capable of telling these stories, and are capable of highlighting particular elements of a frame or composing a particular narrative through that single frame.

“The skilled training RMIT is known for is about taking photography to a level that engages with the language and understanding of the medium, in order to create compelling and interesting photographs of not just what’s in front of the frame, but of the way the photographer sees the world.”

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Research Assistant Dr Sarah Edwards with Dr Shane Hulbert, positioning one of the large photographs into place.

Opening night – Photography 130: Behind the Lens / 130 years of photography at RMIT

Thursday 8 March 6-8 pm

Join the exhibiting artists and photographers at the opening night of RMIT Gallery’s ‘Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT’.

Opening speaker: Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, RMIT Chancellor.

Photography 130 public programs

Photography 130 – Behind the Lens: curator’s talk

Friday 10 March 1:00-2:00 pm
Photography 130 curator Shane Hulbert, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Higher Education, School of Art, RMIT University, offers an expanded view of the role and contribution of RMIT University to the photographic imaging of Melbourne and Australia.

130 years of Photography at RMIT

Thursday 16 March 5:30 – 6.30 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Pauline Anastasiou, John Billan Gale Spring, and Alex Syndikas.

Photography Predictions & Premonitions

Thursday 23 March 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Bronek Kozka, Kate Robertson, and Murray McKeich.

Guided tours of Photography 130 exhibition

Suitable for school and university groups, VCE Studio Arts, and special interest groups.

Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT

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Join us at RMIT Gallery on Thursday 9 March, 6-8 pm to celebrate the opening of  Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT. 

The exhibition celebrates RMIT’s long and rich history of providing photography education, which is as old as the institution itself.

Photography 130 – Behind the lens: 130 years of RMIT photography (10 March – 13 April) brings together a collection of over 100 images from 59 photographers, revealing the significant contribution made by RMIT University’s (RMIT) photography programs to the culture and society of Melbourne.

When RMIT first began operations as the Working Men’s College in 1887, photography was one of the foundation disciplines, making it the oldest existing photography course in the world.

Sourced from RMIT archives, The National Gallery of Victoria, Monash Gallery of Art, the State Library of Victoria, private collections, photographers and artists, the exhibition features work created by RMIT staff and alumni between 1887 and 2017, in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, commerce, science and discovery.

Much has changed in photography over the past 130 years, not least the technology. But the skills involved in composition, in challenging the limits of the camera or in capturing that special moment are as valuable today as they were 130 years ago.

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Harry Nankin, The Burning Bush, 1991, Dye transfer fibre paper print. 470 x 560 mm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Join us for the free public programs which offer a ‘behind the lens’ view of the exhibition. Bookings required.

Photography 130 public programs

Photography 130 – Behind the Lens: curator’s talk

Friday 10 March 1:00-2:00 pm
Photography 130 curator Shane Hulbert, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Higher Education, School of Art, RMIT University, offers an expanded view of the role and contribution of RMIT University to the photographic imaging of Melbourne and Australia.

130 years of Photography at RMIT

Thursday 16 March 5:30 – 6.30 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Pauline Anastasiou, John Billan Gale Spring, and Alex Syndikas.

Photography Predictions & Premonitions

Thursday 23 March 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Bronek Kozka, Kate Robertson, and Murray McKeich.

Guided tours of Photography 130 exhibition

Suitable for school and university groups, VCE Studio Arts, and special interest groups.

RMIT Welcome Day: Students embrace art event

 

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Artist Joel Gailer and assistant watch as students test out his skateboard with specially carved wheels – all part of Welcome Day fun at RMIT.

Take one skateboarding artist, two metres of primed canvas, an ample amount of printmaking ink (deep black) and mid-winter, sunny, clear blue skies at the RMIT Welcome Day for mid-year intake students and what do you have? A community art event!

The City Welcome Day is a campus-wide celebration for all students at the RMIT City Campus, where the campus comes alive for a day of fun and frivolity. RMIT Gallery’s marquee was well attended, with students eager to put their name down to volunteer at the gallery and gain valuable experience in working in the art industry.

Artist Joel Gailer thrilled skateboarders and audiences at his Performprint event during the recent RMIT Gallery exhibition Out of the Matrix, (watch the exhibition video here) so we thought we’d invite him back to show new students the sort of exhibitions and public programs RMIT Gallery puts on.

After Joel completed his half hour skateboarding-printmaking performance, someone tapped him on the shoulder and asked the question; “can I have a go?”

And so, Welcome Day became, briefly, RMIT Art Event – with students testing out their prowess on the skateboard, and risking inky feet as they tried to make their mark on the canvas.

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Some students had never been on a skateboard before, and yet were intrigued by Joel’s performance and bravely attempted to at least stand on the board – and some went further, actually having a spin.

While  RMIT has a large number of academic, creative, sports, spiritual, political and special interest clubs, new students also discovered that the cultural activities RMIT Gallery provides are also part of an enriching university experience.

 

Richard Bell: Imagining Victory opens at RMIT Gallery

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Opening night Richard Bell Imagining Victory at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Margund Sallowsky, 2016.

Despite the rain, an enthusiastic crowd gathered at RMIT Gallery on 10 March for the opening of Richard Bell: Imagining Victory. The exhibition, developed by Artspace and toured by Museums & Galleries of NSW, presents the leading Australian artist’s highly acclaimed and provocative works Scratch an Aussie (2008) and Broken English (2009) as well as the series’ culminating new work The Dinner Party (2013).

The trilogy of video works expand upon narratives and concepts developed within Bell’s artistic practice that draw heavily upon the mechanisms of activism. In the context of the gallery opening , where viewers with glasses of wine seemed to mimic the actors on the screen captured in similar settings, Bell’s work had an added edge.

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Opening night Richard Bell Imagining Victory at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Margund Sallowsky, 2016.

It was fitting that Wurundjeri Elder Colin Hunter Jr, related to the traditional owners of the land on which the university gallery stands, warmly welcomed guests to enjoy the work.

Bell has been a leading force within the field of contemporary Australian art since the 1990s, making provocative gestures and works that confront the histories and present issues surrounding race relations. The artist frequently integrates expressions of political, cultural, social and economic disenchantment emerging out of the uneasy relationship between Aboriginal peoples and colonial migrants to Australia.

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Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Colin Hunter Jr at the opening of the Richard Bell Imagining Victory exhibition at RMIT Gallery on 10 March. Photo by Margund Sallowsky.

The exhibition opening coincided with the Australia Council Awards ceremony in Sydney, where Bell was on hand to receive a prestigious Australia Council Visual Arts Award. The 2016 Australia Council awards honour eight distinguished Australian artists who have made an exceptional contribution to the arts over many years.   These prestigious national awards combine long-standing lifetime and outstanding achievement awards in music, literature, community arts and cultural development, visual arts, theatre, dance, and emerging and experimental arts.

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Video still from Richard Bell: Imagining Victory, opening night, RMIT Gallery. Photo by Margund Sallowsky.

Professor Paul Gough , Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Vice-President, RMIT University, giving the opening address at the Richard Bell Imagining Victory exhibition. Photo by Margund Sallowsky.

In his exhibition opening address, Professor Paul Gough, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Vice-President, RMIT University, said that for the viewer, Bell’s video trilogy is ‘hypnotically watchable and at the same time deeply discomforting”.

“These works demand that the audience confront their own perceptions of Aboriginal culture. By using outwardly accessible middle class locations, Bell lures the viewer into a safe space. If we feel uncomfortable watching these caustic and beautifully crafted narratives then he will have achieved his aim – never underestimate the lingering impact of this work.”

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Opening night Richard Bell Imagining Victory at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Margund Sallowsky, 2016

For the Biennale of Sydney (18 March – 5 June) Bell has constructed a tent on the lawn in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Titled ‘Embassy’ this homage to the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy will serve as the setting for a series of screenings and talks with prominent activists.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was first assembled by activists on the lawn of Parliament House, Canberra, in 1972 and continues to bring issues of Indigenous health, housing and land rights to the forefront of Australian politics to this day.

Elizabeth Fortescue, Visual arts writer for The Daily Telegraph, notes “Bell’s Embassy has already been activated in New York and Moscow. But establishing it in Sydney Cove, at arguably the exact spot where Governor Phillip raised the British flag, gives Embassy a piquancy it probably could not have anywhere else.”

If you would like to see Richard Bell’s work but can’t get to the @biennalesydney – head to @RMITGallery for Bell’s video trilogy – Imagining Victory (until 23 April).

Richard Bell: Imagining Victory is developed by Artspace and toured by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Exhibition openings 10 March 6-8 pm at RMIT Gallery

Reminder – please join us at three exhibition openings at RMIT Gallery tonight Thursday 10 March from 6-8 pm: Elizabeth Gower: ‘he loves me, he loves me not’, Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat: Quiet Voices, and Richard Bell: Imagining Victory. All welcome.

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Richard Bell | Imagining Victory 

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Professor Paul Gough, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Vice-President, RMIT University

Drawing heavily upon the mechanisms of activism, this significant solo exhibition by leading Australian artist Richard Bell is centred on a trilogy of recent video projects that attempts to dig beneath the veneer of cultural integration to expose how racism can be deeply embedded and passed on to future generations. An Artspace exhibition toured by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

 

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Elizabeth Gower ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ . Installation image RMIT Gallery, 2016.

Elizabeth Gower | he loves me, he loves me not  

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Dr Leslie Cannold, Ethicist, researcher, author 

Women in all cultures are encouraged to seek validation at an early age, by conforming to prescribed behaviours, sanctioned body image, fashion, career and lifestyle choices. In the handwritten phrase he loves me, he loves me not RMIT Alumnus Elizabeth Gower poses the question 21,319 times symbolically representing a lifetime of re-evaluation and wavering, resilience and resolve.

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Image (screen detail) Mithu Sen I have only one language; it is not mine, 2014, 42 min. Video installation based on a performance. Installation image at RMIT Gallery, 2016.

Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat | Quiet Voices

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Ms Sushi Das, Opinion Editor, The Age, author 

The works by Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat poetically address issues women face with obligation,
patriarchy and the inter-generational dynamic.For her multi-media installation I have only one language; it is not mine renowned Delhi-based artist Mithu Sen spent a month at a Kerala orphanage to experience firsthand what life was like for these marginalised young girls. Nirnay (Decision) the debut film of director Pushpa Rawat explores Pushpa’s journey and that of her young, educated women friends on the outskirts of Delhi who feel powerlessly obligated when it comes to taking any major decision regarding their future.

 

 

March exhibitions opening at RMIT Gallery

Please join us Thursday 10 March 6-8 pm to celebrate the opening of three exhibitions by leading Australian artists Richard Bell and Elizabeth Gower, internationally acclaimed artist Mithu Sen and emerging film maker Pushpa Rawat.

Richard Bell | Imagining Victory 

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm  – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Professor Paul Gough, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Vice-President, RMIT University

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About the exhibition
Curator: Alexie Glass-Kantor | Artist: Richard Bell
Drawing heavily upon the mechanisms of activism, this significant solo exhibition by leading Australian artist Richard Bell is centred on a trilogy of recent video projects that attempts to dig beneath the veneer of cultural integration to expose how racism can be deeply embedded and passed on to future generations.
An Artspace exhibition toured by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Richard Bell has just been announced as the recipient of a prestigious Australia Council Visual Arts Award.

The 2016 Australia Council awards honour eight distinguished Australian artists who have made an exceptional contribution to the arts over many years.   These prestigious national awards combine long-standing lifetime and outstanding achievement awards in music, literature, community arts and cultural development, visual arts, theatre, dance, and emerging and experimental arts.

Now in its second year, the Australia Council Awards ceremony will be held in Sydney on Thursday, 10 March, so unfortunately Richard Bell will be unable to attend the RMIT Gallery opening of his exhibition.

Richard Bell has held a number of solo exhibitions since 1990 and works across a variety of media, including painting, installation, performance and video. His work explores the complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial and Indigenous art production. He is represented in major collections in Australia and New Zealand and has had significant solo exhibitions internationally, including at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam this year. His work Embassy will feature in the 20th Biennale of Sydney in March. He received the Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award in 2003. Richard is part of the Proppa Now Collective in Brisbane, which mentors young Indigenous artists.

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Elizabeth Gower | he loves me, he loves me not  

Elizabeth Gower | he loves me, he loves me not  
Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm   – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April
Opening SpeakerDr Leslie Cannold Ethicist, researcher, author
About the exhibition

Curator: Suzanne Davies | Artist: Elizabeth Gower

Women in all cultures are encouraged to seek validation at an early age, by conforming to prescribed behaviours, sanctioned body image, fashion, career and lifestyle choices. In the handwritten phrase he loves me, he loves me not RMIT Alumnus Elizabeth Gower poses the question 21,319 times symbolically representing a lifetime of re-evaluation and wavering, resilience and resolve.

 

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Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat | Quiet Voices

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm  – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Ms Sushi Das Opinion Editor, The Age, author

The works by Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat poetically address issues women face with obligation,patriarchy and the inter-generational dynamic.

For her multi-media installation I have only one language; it is not mine renowned Delhi-based artist Mithu Sen spent time at a Kerala orphanage to experience firsthand what life was like for these marginalised young girls. Nirnay (Decision) the debut film of director Pushpa Rawat explores Pushpa’s journey and that of her young, educated women friends on the outskirts of Delhi who feel powerlessly obligated when it comes to taking any major decision regarding their future.

 

Volunteering at RMIT Gallery

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Volunteering at RMIT Gallery is a wonderful way to take that first step towards a career in museums, arts management or events. This week, we say farewell to George, one of our longest serving volunteers, as he takes up an internship in Germany in the next few weeks.

University students who volunteer their time to work shifts and opening events and public programs at RMIT Gallery are a vital and much appreciated resource. So it is with fondness and a touch of sadness that we say goodbye to George after several years. Of course, we had a special ‘sweet’ send off with cupcakes – something of a RMIT Gallery tradition as a way of saying ‘thanks’.

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George has just completed a double degree at RMIT in electrical engineering and commerce, and is a good example of the fact that you don’t need to be studying art to be part of the gallery’s ‘extended family’ – we welcome all enthusiastic students, as the gallery relies on a diverse skill set.

RMIT Gallery’s volunteer program provides motivated individuals with the opportunity to gain an understanding of arts administration and the day to day management of contemporary art galleries.

We are interested in applications from volunteers with a diverse range of skills. Knowledge of art is helpful, but not essential.

We require well presented, outgoing people, capable of multitasking, with excellent communication skills. Full induction and training will be provided to suitable applicants. Working at RMIT Gallery provides volunteers with the chance to enhance their resume and showcase their capabilities and enthusiasm to future employers. We have many overseas students and also students from other universities, as well as many post graduate students who are looking to improve their industry knowledge as they gain high level research skills in the arts.

Volunteers check out Peter Ellis' 2013 exhibition 'A head in a Hive of Bees' at RMIT Gallery. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy.

Volunteers at Peter Ellis’ 2013 exhibition ‘A Head in a Hive of Bees’ at RMIT Gallery. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy.

Our program is open to a variety of applicants:

  • Internships: suited to those completing a tertiary degree in arts management, curatorship, education, public relations, communications or business administration. Interns will undertake a full or part-time volunteer placement at the gallery for a set period, completing an appointed project or series of related tasks.
  • Work experience: suited to secondary school students who wish to gain a week or fortnight’s experience, working on light administrative tasks, reception and exhibition research. Places per year are limited.
  • Regular volunteers: those able to donate their time on a regular weekly basis will be able to undertake gallery sitting, reception, and wide variety of administrative and research tasks.

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  • Event staff: RMIT Gallery offers a range of public programs and exhibition openings throughout the year that require staff to serve food and drinks, and assist in various aspects of the function. These are a great opportunity to meet artists, curators and other members of the arts community and gain first hand experience in event management.
Opening night 'Only from The Heart can You Touch The Sky' at RMIT Gallery 12 April - 4 June 2012.

Opening night ‘Only from The Heart can You Touch The Sky’ at RMIT Gallery 12 April – 4 June 2012.

George says that his favourite exhibition and opening was the 2012 contemporary Persian exhibition “Only From the Heart Can You Touch the Sky” which showcased Afghanistan art and culture – and the wonderful Afghan Tea Cart – as well as an opening night full of music, dancing and warmth.

Afghan Tea Cart delighted audiences at the public programs for the 2012 exhibition 'Only From The Heart can You Touch The Sky' at RMIT Gallery.

Afghan Tea Cart delighted audiences at the public programs for the 2012 exhibition ‘Only From The Heart can You Touch The Sky’ at RMIT Gallery.

Good luck with your future career, George! Thanks for your help and we are pleased you take some wonderful memories of exhibitions and art events with you into your future journey.

To become a volunteer at RMIT Gallery, please forward a current CV, or any queries to:

rmit.gallery@rmit.edu.au