Saturday, August 29, 2020

Perfect (20/20) Vision in the year 2020

 Photography: Brian Rope

Thirteen Artists: Perfect (20/20) Vision in the year 2020

Gallery of Small Things: Until 6 September 2020

Also online at


The Gallery of Small Things (GOST) is the tiniest gallery in Canberra. Visitors usually see a variety of artworks in a space less than 6 metres square which, in the 1960s, was an outside laundry!

GOST conducts an annual group show showcasing a different visual arts sector. This year it is photography and the exhibition has been worked up in collaboration with Photo Access which invited proposals responding to the theme of 20/20 vision with artworks 20 x 20 cm in size, in the year 2020. Applications were assessed by a panel, comprised of GOST and PhotoAccess staff.

In total, the thirteen selected artists created 50 small works, which makes for a rather crowded gallery - despite a few not being displayed in it. Gallery owner and operator, Anne Masters, had a challenging choice to make when curating this show.

Rowena Yates has four images framed in deep set black boxes. There is much to see in each of these works if we spend adequate time looking into them. Yates says “This series explores the political and environmental consequences of climate change for farming families of the Ungarie district ... and seeks to complicate stereotyping of primary producers as stoic ‘battlers’, particularly as these play out in popular constructions of national identity ...’.

Brian MacAlister has created five works titled ‘not known to self’. In each work there are fascinating juxtapositions. He has used a combination of digital photography and photographic collage to give these works a contemporary edge. 

Not known to self #2, inkjet prints, combination of digital photography
and photographic collage © Brian MacAlister

Yvette Perine has created I-Type Polaroids documenting bushfire smoke, affected land, and regrowth. Appropriately, they are displayed close to Ian Skinner’s images of the bushfire aftermath at Cadgee. I was pleased to see a print of an image that was a finalist for Skinner in the recent Mullins Australian Conceptual Photography Prize – albeit a small cropped version.

Tessa Ivison has created lovely digital images on glass in a series titled “Liminal landscapes”, reflecting her view that 2020 has been a liminal year of despair and hope.

 Liminal Landscapes – Sonder, digital image on glass © Tessa Iveson

Jason McDonald’s contribution is three exquisite works in solid oak box frames. The subject matter first seen is wildflowers, but closer inspection reveals small creatures, such as geckos, lizards, frogs, and hoverflies, among the flowers.


Bluebells, Golden Weather Grass, Lizards & Grass Hoppers,

photograph on cotton rag paper, solid oak box frame with Ultra Vue glass

© Jason McDonald 2020

Sammy Hawker contributes some wonderful art with a set of Multigrade FB prints, made from 120 film developed with XTol and ocean water collected on site at Broulee. They each show great textures and details. I loved “Broulee detail 1”.

Thomas Edmondson is showing works created using medium format colour negative film. They show us varied observed urban subjects within 100km of his home.

Emily Bull pays homage to the acclaimed American photographer Vivian Maier’s self-portraits, with two inkjet prints reflecting a search for inner clarity.

 Reflection (after Vivian Maier), 2020, Inkjet on cotton rag, framed © Emily Bull

David Lindesay’s Polaroid titled “Corrupted Touch” very much conveys a sense of touch despite his having altered and deformed his image by applying heat to the film.

Corrupted Touch, 2020, Polaroids, © David Lindsey

Sari Sutton has a series of framed digital inkjet prints. One of them “Orbital (brain)storm” is a great representation of what my brain must be like during times when my thoughts are all over the place.


Blankistan, framed digital Inkjet print on fine art cotton rag paper © Sari Sutton

Damien Laing contributes five digital prints of flying foxes. They are amusingly displayed directly above Sinead Alison’s five images documenting cats through windows. She is ‘inspired by Lee Friedlander’s ‘Mannequin’ and Herbert List’s ‘Monograph’. This body of work has allowed her to explore the light and play with reflection in all conditions ... to capture a unique composition of these subjects in a surrealist yet documentary manner.

The cat pondered if it was inside or outside, May 2020, 35mm film negative hand developed and hand printed on Pearl Lustre Photo paper, crafted wooden glass frame  © Sinead Allison

This review was also published on 29 August 2020 by the Canberra Times (initially under Ron Cerabona’s name, but later corrected to my name): and on my personal blog: