Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

NEW PHOTODOC SHOW Curated by Doug @ Maud Gallery

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In-situ - Frontispiece

In-situ – Frontispiece


IN SITU: New Photodocumentary Work


At the end of 2015 I was the external assessor for the Queensland College of Art Bachelor of Photography Documentary stream. The work that I encountered from their recently completed documentary photography projects was inspiring. The projects that they had engaged in employed an ‘embedded’ methodology. Each photographer created stories expressing concepts and ideas that I felt deserved a wider audience. As some of the projects crossed-over into the slippery areas of art and concept documentation I felt that presenting the work in this context would encourage comment and discourse.


Doug in an assessment @ the Queensland College of Art PHOTO: Earle Bridger

Doug in an assessment @ the Queensland College of Art PHOTO: Earle Bridger


I sought support from Irena Prikryl, Director of Brisbane’s Maud Gallery, with my intention being to curate a show of selected works. Over a week I forwarded to Irena websites and links to the student’s works – each submission was met with a response – ‘these photos are awesome!’ Irena then offered an exhibition early in 2016. In discussions with students I found that one of them was interested in curating and gallery management – so an honorary internship was offered to Gillian Jones.


The rationale for exhibition is as follows:

Every photograph is a document. A photographic document may be about a friend’s smile, a family event, a dramatic storm cloud or a dent in a car door. But, what about those documentary images that tell us about the greater aspects of life in our times? These other photographs can encompass the tragedies of human suffering, of rituals and habits, of things that escape our casual view of the world and documents of hidden acts, a performances or a ‘happening’.

The documentary photographs in this exhibition are made by photographers not working as the casual iPhone snapshot ‘photographer’ of today, but rather individuals who embed themselves in human and natural environments to witness, to empathise and to document with a camera so a story can be shared.

The documentary photographers in this exhibition present their work as evidence of what they have seen, felt and been touched by. This work represents new photodocumentary practice and will place viewers in situ – surrounded by issues of contemporary life…


The exhibitors who accepted the invitation were:  

Follow the links to the Maud Gallery website to see the projects (NOTE: Some links may now be inactive)


Chris Bowes  for the work ‘Sweat

Richard Fraser  for the work ‘Pup play and beyond – exploring Brisbane’s BDSM subculture’

Gillian Jones for her work ‘Choice, Chance or Circumstance

Louis Lim  for his work ‘Waiting for Sunshine

David Mines for the work ‘Beautiful one day perfect the next?

Thomas Oliver for his work ‘Disconnection

Marc Pricop for the work ‘Our Place in The Valley

Elise Searson for her work ‘Karen’ Lyme disease sufferer

Cale Searston for his work ‘BLU


The show was opened by arts writer Louise Martin-Chew on March 9 who was to comment at the beginning of her address that:

I am not an expert on photo documentary: my interest is in art and artist stories. I’m interested in the way in which we may tell and share these stories most effectively, and it is the many narratives, often those that are hidden unless you are part of that experience, or sub culture, that is at the heart of this exhibition of new photography.


Louise Martin-Chew opens 'In Situ' PHOTOS: Irena Prikryl

Louise Martin-Chew opens ‘In Situ’ PHOTOS: Irena Prikryl


Well over 120 people attended the exhibition opening. A cash bar operated with the profits going to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia charity – associated with Elise Searson’s project’


Opening attendees

Opening attendees

Opening attendees

Opening attendees


Some views of the exhibition:


David Mines' 'Beautiful one day perfect the next?'

David Mines’ ‘Beautiful one day perfect the next?’

Elise Searson's 'Karen' Lyme disease

Elise Searson’s ‘Karen’ Lyme disease

Richard Fraser's 'Pup play and beyond'

Richard Fraser’s ‘Pup play and beyond’

Thomas Olivers' 'Disconnection'

Thomas Olivers’ ‘Disconnection’

Louis' 'Waiting for Sunshine'

Louis’ ‘Waiting for Sunshine’

Chris Bowes' 'Sweat'

Chris Bowes’ ‘Sweat’


Over the course of the exhibition each of the photographers presented a floortalk at the gallery. One contributor was Thomas Oliver, who is currently studying overseas in Toronto, Canada presented a Skype session in the gallery before his work.


Gillian Jones presenting her floortalk

Gillian Jones presenting her floortalk

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype


The exhibition concluded on the 20th March with a dinner for the exhibitors and gallery members within the white walled empty space of the gallery.


The artists' dinner @ Maud Gallery

The artists’ dinner @ Maud Gallery


In my comments at the opening of the exhibition I stated that a documentary photograph does not exist until it is publically distributed. The exhibition, In Situ: New Photodocumentary Work, put this work and the stories it contains before an audience. Everyone seeing it may interpret this work differently; such is the nature of the photodocument. Perhaps the true value of photodocumentary work can be summed up in Louise martin-Chew’s closing statement:

The power of this collection of works by a very talented group is simply summed up I think: Art may not be able to save the world, but it has an unparalleled ability to help us understand the individuals that comprise a community, a country, a continent = the world. And that may be sufficient.

Thank you to Irena Prikryl and Maud Gallery, Gillian Jones, the contributing photographers and Louise Martin-Chew for a memorable and powerful photodocumentary exhibition of new works.


Dr Doug Spowart



Louise Martin-Chew’s opening address can be seen on her website: HERE


New-PhotoDoc Catalogue

New-PhotoDoc Catalogue

A catalogue of selected works from the show can be downloaded: NEW-DOC-CATALOGUE

Each of the photographer’s works can be seen on the Maud Gallery website under the participant’s names in the OUR ARTISTS menu – they can be purchased from the site as well.


Unless attributed otherwise all texts and photographs are ©2016 Doug Spowart

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  1. […] curated include a Skype artist’s talk that he participated in at Maud Gallery in March for the In situ documentary […]

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