Ricky Maynard - Portraits

Exhibition: 15 July to 15 August, 2009

Ricky Maynard

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This year the work of Ricky Maynard is commemorated in Portraits of a Distant Land, a retrospective of his photographic work to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (4 June - 23 August, 2009). A monograph has been published to accompany the exhibition. Maynard's work is significant within an Indigenous history of Australia as was well established in the Tasmanian episode of the recent TV series First Australians.

Maynard is a documentary photographer based on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait between North East Tasmania and the mainland of Australia. His extended family escaped extinction in Tasmania in the mid to late 1800's belying the widely held belief that all Tasmanian Aboriginals were killed. They did so by resettling on Cape Barren Island in the Bass Strait and subsequently moving to Flinders Island where there is currently a population of approximately 1000 people.

His chosen medium of documentary photography is significant and an appropriate tool, associated historically with telling stories of oppressed people. When Maynard learned his craft, working in the darkroom at AIATSIS in Canberra in the mid to late 80's, he saw the way Aboriginal people had been portrayed to date. He later studied at the International Centre of Photography in New York coming into contact with racism of a different nature in Spanish Harlem. He decided he wanted to present Indigenous people in a different light, feeling strongly that they should not see themselves as victims.

The six series he has produced in over 20 years of practice more than achieve this goal. Maynard is an expert black and white craftsman who says "I seek a balance between craftsmanship and social relevance". He has been a passionate spokesperson for documentary photography. Throughout his work he addresses "issues of identity, site, place and nation".

At Stills Gallery we will feature portraits of Wik elders from Returning To Places That Name Us (shown at Stills Gallery in 2000) and Portraits of a Distant Land (2005-2009) Maynard's most recent and ongoing series. It documents the "physical and social landscape of his people through songlines, corner stones, petroglyphs, massacre sites, middens, meeting places, sacred sites and cultural practices, in a combination of visual diary and oral history." (Keith Munro, Culture Warriors catalogue). "This work has a very clear intent - of re-claiming our own" (Ricky Maynard).

Stills Gallery represents the work of Ricky Maynard and his earlier series No more Than What You See (1993) and Urban Diary (1997) are available to view. Maynard's work has been seen widely internationally since 2007, with Ricky Maynard 1986-2007 at the Australian Embassy in Paris for the Musée du Quai Branly, and Portraits of a Distant Land touring to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand.