Image: Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group. Top row (L-R): Lisa Moore, Tom Blachford, Cherine Fahd, Jacqui Strecker, Hugh Stewart. Bottom row (L-R): Emily McDaniel, Merilyn Fairskye, Zan Wimberley, Meng-Yu Yan, Garry Trinh, Sarah Rees. Photograph by Hugh Stewart.
Powerhouse today announced the acquisition of the archive and fund of Australia’s leading institution dedicated to photography and lens-based media, the Australian Centre for Photography. This landmark agreement will see Powerhouse acquire ACP’s photography archive and fund worth approximately $1.6 million, a transformational gift that will continue ACP’s legacy and elevate Powerhouse’s photography collection and image-making practices, under the name of Powerhouse Photography.
For nearly 50 years, ACP has been central to industry and community engagement with photography, which aligns with Powerhouse’s commitment to embed creative industries into the practice of the museum. Powerhouse Photography will amplify the profile of Australian photography and lens-based media supporting photographers across their careers through commissions, acquisitions and national and international engagement opportunities.
Powerhouse Photography will continue the mission of ACP through an ongoing series of programs, publications, learning and research activities dedicated to the promotion and development of photography in Australia. The Powerhouse Photography annual program will include a photography research fellowship, tertiary internship program, contemporary photography acquisition program, and industry day.
The ACP’s extensive archive provides an unrivalled survey of photography practice in Australia from its inception in 1974 to the present day. Powerhouse will digitise the ACP archive making this significant resource accessible to the public for the first time. This foundational gift from ACP provides the impetus for Powerhouse to evaluate and expand upon its existing photography collection and develop an Australian Photography Archive.
Central to Powerhouse Photography is the establishment of the Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group, comprised of photographers, and industry and community representatives. The Advisory Group will connect Powerhouse to industry and embed knowledge, insights and advice to inform curatorial strategies.
Co-chaired by photographer and University of Technology Sydney Associate Professor, Cherine Fahd and Powerhouse Senior Curator Sarah Rees, the panel includes photographer, filmmaker and ACP board member Merilyn Fairskye; Friends of ACP member Lisa Moore; photographer Garry Trinh; photographer Hugh Stewart; photographer Meng-Yu Yan; photographer Tom Blachford; Powerhouse Director First Nations Emily McDaniel; Powerhouse Head of Curatorial Jacqui Strecker; and Powerhouse Artistic Associate Zan Wimberley.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of ACP in 2024, Powerhouse will collaborate with the newly established Photography Advisory Group to deliver a curated digital program and a major publication on Australian photography via Powerhouse Publishing.
‘The NSW government is thrilled the historic legacy of the ACP will be preserved by the Powerhouse. Photography is a vital part of the Australian arts landscape and this initiative has helped secure its future for years to come,’ Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said.
‘Today everyone’s a photographer. Making, sharing and looking at photographic images is something we all do. Photography’s pervasiveness across all aspects of human experience means we can take this powerful technology for granted; it is everywhere and nowhere, so ubiquitous as to be invisible. The Powerhouse Photography initiative declares photography’s cultural value at the precise moment we may have forgotten its significance in art and design, through to science, medicine, law, communication and commerce. This critical and timely initiative offers a renewed focus on photography as a social and creative practice with a significant history and an even more vital future,’ Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group Co-Chair and UTS Associate Professor Cherine Fahd said.
‘Having completed an extensive community consultation over the last 18 months, the Board of the ACP is delighted to have partnered with the Powerhouse to secure the long-term future of the organisation’s mission and archive. This innovative agreement ensures the founding goals of the ACP can be carried into the long-term future with an institution, and with an Advisory Group, that is deeply committed to securing and continuing our legacy. I thank our CEO and the members of the ACP Board for their tireless work; our community for their passionate engagement; and the Powerhouse team for their vision and commitment,’ ACP Chairman Michael Blomfield said.
‘This transformational acquisition will enrich the diversity of the Powerhouse collection and invest into Australian photography. For nearly 50 years, ACP has cemented the importance of photography in contemporary culture by championing a diverse range of artists. It’s our privilege to play a part in shaping the future of photographic practice in Australia, building on the exceptional work of ACP, under the expert guidance of the Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group. We thank the ACP’s Board of Directors and Friends of the ACP for entrusting us with this responsibility and opportunity,’ Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said.
Georgia McKay | Powerhouse
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Kaitlin Coleman | Powerhouse
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The Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) has been the leading institution in Australia dedicated to the art of photography and lens-based media. Since 1974, the ACP has been a creative force in the cultural life of Australia, presenting the work of our most dynamic and diverse artists. The ACP presented the first major retrospectives of photographs by Max Dupain Dupain, Olive Cotton and Mervyn Bishop as well as the early exhibitions of works by Bill Henson, William Yang, Tracey Moffatt and Trent Parke. The ACP holds at its core the vital contribution of artists and photographers in distilling and reflecting upon society, displaying a pluralism of perspectives and a breadth of artistic practice. Our exhibitions, education and community programs provide opportunities for audiences and peers to engage in a dynamic conversation about the significance of images, both past and present, within contemporary culture.
Powerhouse sits at the intersection of arts, design, science and technology and plays a critical role in engaging communities with contemporary ideas and issues. We are undertaking a landmark $1.4 billion infrastructure renewal program, spearheaded by the creation of the flagship museum, Powerhouse Parramatta; expanded research and public facilities at Powerhouse Castle Hill; the renewal of the iconic Powerhouse Ultimo; and the ongoing operation of Sydney Observatory. The museum is custodian to over half a million objects of national and international significance and is considered one of the finest and most diverse collections in Australia. We are also undertaking an expansive digitisation project that will provide new levels of access to Powerhouse collection