Tuesday, November 28, 2023

illuminate ‘23

Photography | Brian Rope

illuminate ‘23 | Friends Photographic Group

ANBG Visitor Centre Gallery | 23 November – 10 December

There’s always an exhibition in the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) Visitor Centre Gallery. Each exhibition explores the Australian environment through diverse creative forms including fine art, craft, photography and sculpture.

The Friends of the ANBG Photographic Group brings together people interested in photography of natural phenomena, to share their experiences, update their skills via monthly lectures, workshops or outings, contribute to the ANBG's overall stock of native flora photographs and much more. The group is a haven for many photographers, with membership steadily increasing month by month.

illuminate ‘23 is the current annual photographic exhibition by the Group. ‘Illuminate’ has two meanings: one is about physical light, and the other is about intellectual or spiritual enlightenment. The images here are most definitely about physical light. At least some will add to viewers knowledge. Whether they spiritually enlighten probably varies between individual viewers.

The exhibition features a range of photographs taken within the ANBG, inviting others to discover, appreciate and value Australia’s unique flora and fauna. All photographs exhibited are for sale as well as unframed prints, cards, and specialty calendars by individual members.

This year there are just two categories of images. Firstly, there are photos of acacia in the David Cox Memorial Flora Award category. Secondly, there is the fauna category. Photographer Karleen Minney and I were invited to select three winners in each category. That wasn’t altogether easy as all works on display are of a high standard. I should emphasise that the authors’ names were not available to us until after we had advised the organisers of our decisions.

The Flora Award went to well-known Canberra professional photographer and photography teacher, Irene Lorbergs, for a delightful image showing a female Gang Gang cockatoo appearing to slide down acacia as though it was a slippery dip for birds. Lorbergs’ excellent photographic skills are very much evident in this work.

Female Gang Gang Cockatoo on Wattle; Callocephalon fimbriatum & Acacia sp., Location: Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), Photographer: Irene Lorbergs

The runner-up in the flora category was Graham Gall, a longtime and active member of the Friends Group. His image displays stunning detail of a crab spider amongst the golden wattle, revealing Gall’s fine technical skills.

Golden Wattle with Crab Spider, Acacia pycnantha / Thomisidae australomisidia, Location: ANBG, Photographer: Graham Gall

The Highly Commended image in this category was by Helen Dawes. Her great composition results in a standout image. Looking at it your eyes inevitably will do the time-honoured thing of moving around the content in a circular motion.

Isolated, Acacia aphylla, Location: ANBG, Photographer: Helen Dawes

In the Fauna category, the selected winning image by Ben Harvey is one to laugh along with. It shows two very wet Gang Gangs - because of rain falling on them - with spiky hairdos and seemingly deep in conversation, quite possibly laughing at their own appearances. The humour conveyed is delightful.

Gang Gang Jibber Jabber, Callocephalon fimbriatum, Location: ANBG, Photographer: Ben Harvey

Phil Green’s image of a slightly wet New Holland Honeyeater on a Waratah was selected as Fauna Runner Up. A wonderful composition has the bird perfectly perched atop a flower – clearly following the photographer’s posing directions.

Slightly wet New Holland Honeyeater on a Waratah, Phylidonyris novaehollandiae / Telopea speciosissima, Location: ANBG, Photographer: Phil Green

And winner Ben Harvey was also Highly Commended for his cleverly titled Kangaroo Alley image. The delicate colours of this image of a bird amongst kangaroo paw flowers are just delightfully soothing to the eye.

Kangaroo Alley, Anigozanthos sp. / Acanthorhychus tenuirostris, Location: ANBG, Photographer: Ben Harvey

The exhibition successfully displays, in print, numerous aspects of Australia’s beautiful natural environment as seen through the lenses of the exhibitors’ cameras.

All the prints are worthy of close examination, and I encourage readers to visit and see for themselves if possible.

All photographs on show are for sale – and would make good Christmas presents. Additional copies of some works can be ordered, and other items for sale include unframed prints, greeting cards, and specialty calendars.

The exhibition supports and raises awareness of the aims and values of the ANBG and highlights the wide-ranging diversity of flora and fauna there. The participants should be pleased and proud of their works.

This review is also available on the author's blog here.