Saddened Were The Hearts of Many Men
Stills Gallery is delighted to present Saddened were the Hearts of Many Men by acclaimed documentary photographer, Ricky Maynard. This series of 12 direct, proud portraits of men from his hometown of Flinders Island was initiated quite some time ago when Maynard was asked “where are all our men?” He began a close observation and inquiry into how Indigenous men in the community were being affected by their diminishing role in society.
Maynard’s subjects are from a cross-section of backgrounds, from community leaders, to young men, to regular dads on the street. He spent a lot of time with each of them before he reached for his camera. While the individuality of each man is clear in these formal portraits, it’s their shared history that resonates. The body of work speaks to their shared history of dispossession from land and family, of denial and loss. A trauma that spans generations. We see men who have suffered hardships forced upon them simply because of the fact that they were Indigenous. In its essence this is a body of work about historical grief.
Maynard’s photographs ask us to meet these men face to face. His project aims to create an awareness of the legacies and struggles that have been inherited and also to create change, to empower and to celebrate these men. He comments:
“From projects that I have created over a thirty-year period, I continue to be inspired by our First Nation people in a way that I call “our indomitable spirit”. It is hoped that one day a future generation will come to look into the eyes of these men and see the essence that is being communicated, their sincerity, their searching, their journey, burdened by the weight of a brutal history they continued with an enduring spirit.”
For Maynard, documentary photography is a tool to effect social change, to bring to light stories of Indigenous people where they have previously been absent or distorted. He says of this series, “Picturing ourselves is a way of keeping the truth of history, resisting the way we are defined by others and allowing us to say that our collective memory is important to us.”
Maynard came to prominence in 1988 with a photo essay on Aboriginal Mutton bird farmers, which was commissioned for the photographic book After 200 Years: Photographic Essays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia Today. Throughout 2007-2010, the major solo exhibition of Maynard’s work, Portrait of a Distant Land, travelled to nine international locations, including the Australian Embassy, Paris (2007), Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2008), and MCA Australia (2009), which published a monograph to accompany the exhibition. His work has featured in notable exhibitions, including Making Change, National Museum of China (2012) and UNSW Galleries (2013), Half Light: Portraits from Black Australia, AGNSW (2008), Culture Warriors, National Indigenous Art Triennial 07, NGA (2007, touring nationally), and Interesting Times-Focus on Contemporary Australian Art, MCA (2006). Maynard's work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the NGA, NGV, AGNSW, National Museum of Australia, National Library of Australia, MCA Australia, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.