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Stephen Spurling III, “Logger’s Bend, Gordon River, Tasmania,” 1906, silver gelatin print


The National Gallery of Australia created a wonderfully thorough site for Picture Paradise: Asia-Pacific Photography 1840s-1940, which opens this Friday in conjunction with Vivid, Australia’s first National Photography Festival. In 2006, NGA Director Ron Radford announced his intention to build “the first museum collection dedicated to representing the history of photography across Asia and the Pacific.” In the two intervening years, they acquired nearly 10,000 photographs, with an emphasis on Indonesian, South and Southeast Asian, and Australian images, ranging from 19th century colonialist documentary work to high Modernism. “This exhibition,” reads the website, “will be the first survey of the history of photography from India and Sri Lanka through Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific to the west coast of North America, from the formative decades of the 1840s to 1860s to the early 1940s and advent of the Second World War.” The National Gallery has 99 images from the exhibition on view, as well as a ton of supplemental material, including a fine short history of Asian-Pacific photography by curator Gael Newton.

Francis Chit, “‘Golden Mountain’ Inside the Palace on the Occasion of the Ceremonial Haircut of the Heir to the Throne,” 1891, albumen print


Charles Scowen, “Nutmeg,” 1895, albumen print


Charles Shepherd, “Afreedis,” c.1862, albumen print


J.W. Lindt, “Body of Joe Byrne, Member of the Kelly Gang, Hung up for Photography, Benalla,” 1880, silver gelatin print


Olive Cotton, “Papyrus,” 1938, silver gelatin print


Lillian Louisa Pitts, “Pretending I was making the animals at the zoo,” from My Summer Holiday at Merrigum, Victoria, c.1915
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