Stills Gallery

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

© Mary Ellen Mark


Exhibition 7 May to 7 June 2014

Stills Gallery and Head On Photo Festival are delighted to present a solo exhibition of works by Mary Ellen Mark.

A highly respected and influential photographer, Mark has created images of our world's diverse cultures that have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. When she set out as a photographer in the early 1960s Mary Ellen Mark wanted to explore and try to understand the lives of as many different kinds of people as she could. For over four decades she has travelled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Her images, whether they are of people at the edges of society or those closer to the centre — are all bound together by a generosity of vision. In the 1970s, she worked on several bodies of work, which established her reputation. In 1976, she documented the women's maximum security ward of Oregon State Mental Hospital, and in 1978 she photographed the prostitutes in the brothels of Falkland Road in Bombay. Both became subjects for books. In the 1980s and 1990s, she photographed and published books on homeless teenagers in Seattle, a holiday camp for children with cancer in California, Mother Teresa, circuses in India, and more recently on twins and proms in America.

The exhibition at Stills Gallery as part of Head On Photo Festival, Mark’s first solo exhibition in Australia, features some of her most iconic images. From the haunting portrait of street kid “Tiny” dressed in her Halloween costume, to senior citizens getting down on a dance floor in Luigi's Italian American Club in Miami and the eccentricities of the Indian Circus, Mark’s images are, as she has described them “full of ironies, often humorous and sometimes sad, beautiful and ugly, loving and at times cruel, but always human.” In addition to these iconic images is a selection of photographs taken in Australia on a National Geographic assignment for the 1988 Bicentennial. These images looked at the indigenous community in Redfern as well as recent immigrants from places like Lebanon and Vietnam, capturing the diversity of cultures and voices that existed in Australia at the time.

Mary Ellen Mark has published eighteen books including Ward 81 (Simon & Schuster, 1979), Falkland Road (Knopf, 1981), Mother Teresa's Mission of Charity in Calcutta (Friends of Photography, 1985), Streetwise (second printing, Aperture, 1992), Indian Circus,(Chronicle, 1993, Twins (Aperture, 2003), Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon, 2009) and Prom (Getty, 2012.) She has also published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. Mark's photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in many important public and private collections. Amongst her many accolades are the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography in 2001, the Infinity Award for Journalism, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Matrix Award for outstanding woman in the field of film/photography. Her work was presented at the MCA in Sydney in Revealing Moments in Time, chosen by Ricky Maynard to be exhibited concurrently with his Portrait of a Distant Land exhibition in 2009.

Headon Photo Festival



Exhibition 7 May to 7 June 2014

When documentary photographer Lisa Garland returned to her hometown in the North West coast of Tasmania after some time away, she saw her community in a new light. Rather than noticing the prevailing pastimes of sport, farming and fishing that seemed to define the locals’ lives, her vision was drawn away to the quieter characters, whose remote homes and hidden passions set them apart, physically and socially.

These individuals became the subjects for Garland’s portraiture. She found that, as if in place of a busy social calendar, their homes were visually busy—dense and overflowing with objects, but moreover with personality. Garland’s fascination with these closed-off sanctums reveals spaces where the intangibles of personality and the materiality of possessions, seem to blur and intertwine.

Garland’s intimate and honest photographs capture the detail and extent of the inhabitants’ obsessive passions — how the repetitions of their insular existences take form in a collage of overlapping, clashing textures, textiles and patterns. The large-scale black and white photographs invite the viewer to enter into the rooms, the images irregular soft focus further evoke their inhabitants’ dreamy worlds on the fringes of social ‘normality’.

Despite their diversity, what unites the individuals depicted is the way they manipulate their personal spaces. Their hobbies and beliefs, whether butterfly collecting, Catholicism or a love of gardening seem to consume them, not just their time and thoughts but their physical existence. The way a comfy armchair moulds to the curves of its dedicated sitter, here their rooms shape around their personalities, extending from their characters and naturally evolving outwards until they’re are almost lost within it, camouflaged in their habitat.

Lisa Garland lives and works on the North West coast of Tasmania. She is a photographer who specializes in large scale, silver gelatin portraits. For fifteen years Garland has documented the lives and homes of interesting and often eccentric locals through large format portrait photography. Moody and sympathetic to detail, Garland’s evocative black and white images are a far cry from the average studio portrait.

Garland completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart in 1992 followed by a diploma of Education. She has been shortlisted for a number of awards including the National Photographic Portrait Prize, the Hobart City Art Prize and Tidal; the City of Devonport Art Award. Garland won the Moorilla Prize in 2007. Garland’s work is held in private and public collections, including the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Tasmania, the Burnie Regional Art Gallery and Museum of Old and New Art.

Headon Photo Festival


© Lisa Garland