Photographic Memory

Photographic Memory: a survey of 24 years of photography.
To be opened by Pastor Ray Minniecon on Wednesday 21st August, 6-8pm, McGlade Gallery

An image that takes its title from Jacinda Ardern’s speech following the Christchurch terrorist attack is the most recent work in this survey exhibition of photography by Sarah Barker. “They Are Us” is a photo-collage that began as a response to the racial profiling of African gangs in Australia and evolved to also become a reaction to more specific expressions of racism. The work itself invites close examination, not just of the series of portraits that make up the collage but, of ourselves.
This complex image also links us to the earliest series of work in the exhibition, “Small World, Big Family”, in the first of the three McGlade Gallery spaces.  First exhibited at the Australian Maritime Museum in 1995 to commemorate fifty years of post-war migration, these portraits show the rich diversity of people who have migrated to Australia. From Lithuanian refugees who arrived in the immediate aftermath of World War ll to a doctor from Hong Kong in 1991, Sarah documents families and individuals from around the world. 
Each of the three spaces at McGlade Gallery follows a selected theme from almost two and a half decades of Sarah’s photography practice.  Gallery 2 is dedicated to People and Protest, with portraits from the series “Legends of the Left” and a first-time exhibit of images made at the “Carnival Against Capitalism” outside the Sydney Stock Exchange for “MayDay2K” in the year 2000. The protest series demonstrates Sarah’s innate ability to meld aspects of social-documentary and street photography to create her unique form of storytelling.
Profoundly personal expressions of grief and trauma occupy Gallery 3 which features portraits of the “KBH Boys”. These men were removed from their families as small children and sent to the notorious Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) near Kempsey in northern NSW. The portraits were made at the start of a twelve-year period when Sarah volunteered to make photographic portraits for the men during the first stages of their journey of healing. The portraits have been exhibited many times as part of the KBH Aboriginal Corporation’s truth-telling strategy, and to “remember and lament all the children who will never come home”. They provide a face-to-face encounter with the impact of our country’s shameful history and a timely complement to the stories still emerging today. 

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This is how I feel about moving house

Semi-finalist, 2019 HeadOn Portrait Award.

At the age of 19 I dropped out of the Certificate Photography Course I was doing because one of my teachers wrote this on the back of a photograph I submitted for an assignment: “Work like this is a disgrace - future submissions of this standard will not be accepted.” The photograph I had submitted was a self-portrait. So, 40 years later, I am very happy to have my self-portrait selected as a Semi-finalist in the 2019 HeadOn Portrait award.

Congratulations to all the semi-finalists, finalists and winners. All selected Portrait images can be viewed at the HeadOn Photo Festival hub, Paddington Town Hall, from 4-19 May.

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#Embassy2019

Supporting Richard Bell at the Venice Biennale while installing Gary Shinfield’s show at Sea Street Gallery. Bell’s #Embassy2019 is an interrogation of the impacts of colonialism and global capital . A continuation of the Indigenous land rights (not Native Title!) and anti-racism activism mobilised through the “original” Aboriginal Tent Embassy, established on the lawns of Australian Parliament in January 1972.

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Launch of Jason Wing’s mural of Pemulwuy.

PEMULWUY was born around 1750 in Botany Bay and is noted for his leadership in uniting many clans for resistance from Botany Bay to the Blue Mountains and would have used the Cooks River to navigate the region. There are stories about Pemulwuy escaping incarceration by transforming into a crow and flying through the bars, leaving a trail of crow feathers behind.

Jason Wing at the launch of his mural of Pemulwuy in Ewen Park, Earlwood.

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