Introducing... Murray Art Museum Albury
Located near the Victorian border in southern New South Wales, Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) exhibits contemporary Australian and Indigenous art with an aim to invigorate, reflect and challenge the community. We spoke with Bree Pickering, the Director of MAMA, about the pertinence of addressing truth in photography.
Photography has been a focus medium for MAMA for over 40 Years. Our relationship with photography owes much to Audray Banfield, the visionary director of Albury Regional Art Gallery (MAMA’s forebear). It was Audray who brought a Diane Arbus exhibition to regional Victoria (Benalla) back in the 70s. And it was Audray who invited a young Tracey Moffatt to Albury in 1989 out of which came her seminal ‘Something More’ series. The impact of Audray’s legacy is significant. I would argue that our community has a stronger appetite (higher tolerance!?) for experimental/challenging art, across mediums, because of her legacy. The National Photography Prize began in 1983 as the National Photographic Purchase Award under Audray and has been an important barometer of current photographic art practice since that time. MAMA’s permanent collection now documents the development and maturity of Australian photographic art practice since the 1980s.
We’re excited to be part of this agglomeration of IRL photography at a time when life is saturated with the digital. It feels pertinent and necessary, which are both things MAMA aims to be.
As an art museum in a regional city, somewhat removed from the major centres, it is significant for us to be part of a program that connects cultural institutions across Victoria all celebrating the importance of photography. We have certainly benefited from the connectivity that our contemporary context provides. We have an online audience that are following our program but have not yet had the opportunity to attend the museum. It is programs like PHOTO 2020 that encourage some of that audience to make the trip and experience this place in the flesh.
At MAMA we operate under the belief that artists are the truth tellers of our culture. At a time when we rely on the networked image as a dominant form of communication and when claims to truth are variously slippery and enraging, it seems more important than ever to look to artists to find new ways to understand ourselves and our world.
We will be celebrating the importance of photography to contemporary art in Australia through a number of exhibitions, including the National Photography Prize.
Bree Pickering is Director of Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA). Prior to joining MAMA, Bree was Executive Director at Vox Populi in Philadelphia, one of the longest running experimental art spaces in the USA. She also spent a few years in Washington DC as Curator at the Australian Embassy under Ambassador Kim Beasley.