Emerging Australian Artists

by Pippa Milne

The lovely thing about visiting shows by emerging artists is that it gives you context, context, context: something to draw on in the years to come when some of these photographers are headlining festivals. How many times have we wished we’d witnessed the early works by artists, back when nobody knew who they would become? Now’s your chance…


Leyla Stevens’ A Line in the Sea is an intense piece of speculative documentary filmmaking that reframes an Australian cult-surf movie set in Bali. Through a feminist lens, Stevens lifts an outdated veil has romanced surf movies in the past, and blithely ignored socio-political complexity in favour of filming a sweet surf break. Nearby in Fitzroy, and equally as intense, is a raft of Shea Kirk’s stereoscopic works. These methodical and monumental double portraits (which spring forth from the wall when viewed through a stereoscope) are an exercise in intimacy, which suffuses both the process of making and viewing these works. Kirk has worked slowly in his home studio with dual large-format cameras to simultaneously capture two images from different perspectives, fostering an unfolding rapport between photographer and sitter. And of course, there is something private and close about viewing an image through an analogue device such as a stereoscope. It affords the work singular attention and allows the viewer a moment of controlled and focussed looking.


Out of doors, Laura Delaney’s billboard proportioned artwork superimposes vintage rock climbing photography on Melbourne’s cityscape, offering a hyper-visible meditation on the balance and bargain that is negotiated when one is in a tight squeeze. There are also several spectacular examples of emerging artists within PHOTO 2021’s collaboration with the Metro Tunnel Creative Program, including Jesse Boyd-Reid’s 40 square metre hoarding titled The Gift. This offers up quietly joyful portraits and observations of the artist’s friends and family and the life that they have built supporting each other through the vicissitudes of life.


At SEVENTH Gallery, established artists from Australian art and photography schools have nominated five recent graduates to exhibit their work in PHOTO 2021’s new talent program: New Photographers. The range in this show spreads from lumen printing to crisp, digital images, and from drawings of photographs to photographs explored through sound-scapes. Sam Forsyth-Gray, Sorcha Wilcox, Bec Martin, Kat Wilkie, Sarah Ujmaia all explore visual storytelling through different systems and techniques, showing the elasticity of the photographic medium as seen through the emerging artist’s lens. I urge you to visit these exhibitions, and the others listed below, as a glimpse into the future of photographic art in Australia.



—Pippa Milne, Senior Curator, Monash Gallery of Art

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Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March