Portrait of Monash: the ties that bind

Ponch Hawkes, Untitled VIII, 2020 (detail) from the series Lay down your headIn celebration of their 30th anniversary, Monash Gallery of Art (MGA) has commissioned four leading Australian artists to explore the City of Monash by responding to key issues facing the community – a reflection of the city as a microcosm of the nation in Portrait of Monash: the ties that bind.

Peta Clancy, Lee Grant, Ponch Hawkes and David Rosetzky will shine their own inimitable lens on their chosen topic of interest – local indigenous sites of significance, the migrant experience, homelessness, and the LGBTQI+ community. The commission provides a powerful platform for people to share their stories, which builds awareness of the individual’s experience as they present their truth and the challenges they face.

In doing so MGA becomes a safe place for respectful discourse which leads to greater understanding, profile and advocacy. This is the transformative power of the arts at its most potent. Accompanying the exhibition will be education and public engagement programs to encourage an inclusive and celebrated community. 

“Reaching such a milestone called for a commission that paid homage to MGA’s origins and our standing as the Australian home of photography. Each artist has a sustained history with MGA with their own distinctive approach to image making,” said Anouska Phizacklea, MGA Gallery Director.

“Ponch, Lee, Peta and David have created bodies of work that uniquely responds to MGA, the photographic medium and our community. Importantly, these new bodies of work adds our local community’s lived experiences to the cultural record with work that resonates with, reflects and speaks to our locality and heritage.”

Peta Clancy (1970 – ) is a Melbourne-based artist who is a descendant of the Bangerang people from the Murray Goulburn area of south-eastern Australia. Clancy holds a Master of Arts (Media Arts), RMIT University and completed a practice based PhD at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University Faculty (2009) where she is currently a Senior Lecturer. Clancy’s practice incorporates a number of media including photography which remains her primary medium. She has exhibited widely since the early 1990s, and has a strong history of residencies.

“The starting point for this project began with a map in The Land of the Kulin by Gary Presland (1985) illuminating the cultural and environmental significance of the area prior to settlement.” – Peta Clancy.

Lee Grant (1973 – ) is a photographer and researcher with a background in social anthropology based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology) and a Master of Philosophy (Visual Arts) from the Australian National University. Grant works on commissions and long-term independent and collaborative projects dealing with themes of community, identity and belonging and how landscape (both natural and inhabited) relates to these concepts. As a multi-disciplinary documentarian her practice combines photography, video, sound and text to approach these subjects in projects that are often underpinned with research of institutional and found archives.

“The love and affection that all the sitters had for their respective suburbs in Monash was a wonderful reminder of what Australia does have to offer people when they seek a new life here, for whatever reason.” – Lee Grant

Ponch Hawkes (1946 – ) is a Melbourne based photographic artist. She has recorded and commented on Australian society and cultural life since the seventies. Her work explores themes of the body, movement, the environment, community and relationships with a feminist perspective. Currently she is working on a large scale project photographing 500 women over 50, naked, for the upcoming exhibition, Flesh after fifty.

“There are more and more homeless women and children in our community. These people are sleeping in our spare rooms, in cars, on couches, caravans and in boarding houses.” – Ponch Hawkes

David Rosetzky (1970 – ) has been working in portraiture since the early 1990s to explore ideas relating to the self and identity and has a sustained interest in experimental photographic processes. Rosetzky commented that ‘the technique of double-exposure photography is particularly interesting to me – working with portraiture and ideas relating to the self and identity – as it helps me to create images that seem ambiguous, fragmented and in a state of transition, rather than fixed or essential.’ (Rosetzky – Composite images20 April – 19 May 2018, Sutton Gallery)

“I think of the double exposure technique as an in-camera collage effect which I use to create multiple perspectives within the one image. This is a method of presenting the subject in a nuanced and layered way, that speaks of the complexity, shadows?and contradictions within individual human experience and identity.” – David Rosetzky

Portrait of Monash: the ties that bind
Monash Gallery of Art, 860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill
Exhibition continues to 12 April 2020
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.mga.org.au for details.

Image: Ponch Hawkes, Untitled VIII, 2020 (detail) from the series Lay down your head, chromogenic print 120.0 x 120.0 cmcourtesy of the artist