Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Australia’s most coveted photograph donated to Monash Gallery of Art

Carol Jerrems’ Vale Street is the holy grail of Australian photography.
The work is extremely rare; it is probably Australia’s most valuable photograph. Vale Street is often placed alongside Max Dupain’s Sunbaker (1937) as an icon of Australian photography.

There are only a handful of known prints of Vale Street. The few that exist in private hands are highly sought after by both major public and private collections.

A generous Sydney-based collector has just donated her print of this most prized photograph to Melbourne’s Monash Gallery of Art. Susan Hesse acquired her print of Vale Street from Jerrems' 1976 exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. Susan was at the time a gallery assistant at ACP and got to know Jerrems through the course of the exhibition.

MGA Gallery Director Shaune Lakin said: “Vale Street will contribute enormously to MGA’s nationally significant collection of Australian photographs. This photograph is extremely highly sought after; its acquisition would be on the wish list of most Australian art galleries, and there are many private collectors who would pay handsomely for it. This is one of the most significant acquisitions in the history of MGA.”

MGA Chair Ms Debra Knight comments: “We are extremely thankful to Susan Hesse for donating this wonderful photograph to MGA. Her generosity means that this extremely rare and highly sought-after work will always belong to the public.”

Carol Jerrems was one of Australia’s most important photographers. She was born in Melbourne in 1949 and studied photography at Prahran Technical College from 1967 to 1970. There she was taught by Paul Cox. As a young photographer, Jerrems was selected to feature in the first exhibition at Brummels Gallery of Photography in 1972. She taught photography at Heidelberg and Coburg Technical Schools as well as the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart until 1979 before succumbing to a fatal illness in 1980. Jerrems was the subject of a major retrospective Up close: Carol Jerrems at Heide Musem of Modern Art (2010).

Jerrems’ most famous work, Vale Street is a portrait of the bare-breasted Catriona Brown standing in a back yard with two of Jerrems’ students from Heidelberg Technical School. MGA Curator Stephen Zagala states: “Jerrems was interested in people and wanted to reveal something about them in her photographs. She used her camera to capture and encourage interpersonal relationships. In taking her photographs she collaborated with her subjects who were often her students, friends and associates. Vale Street personifies the optimism of 1970s counterculture and feminist politics, which were influential on Jerrems's photographic practice."

For more information and full image go to http://www.mga.org.au/collection/new-acquisitions

Australia 1949–80
Vale Street (detail) 1975
gelatin silver print
20.2 x 30.2 cm
Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection donated by Susan Hesse 2012
MGA 2012.030 courtesy of the Carol Jerrems Estate

No comments:

Post a Comment