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Antipodean photo books acquired by Tate

A significant milestone in antipodean photo book history occurred in April, when a collection of 52 significant Australian and New Zealand photobooks were acquired by the Tate. The collection was curated by Dr Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper, on the recommendation of photo book historian Martin Parr.

Edited and republished with permission from Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper

In April 2019, Australian photo book creators, academics and advocates, Dr Doug Spowart and Dr Victoria Cooper, completed a two year project to curate a selection of 52 significant Australian and New Zealand photo books for acquisition by the Tate, UK. The project was a labour of love and marks a significant milestone in antipodean photo book history.

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“We are delighted that this collection is entering Tate’s library collection as a rich resource for our public and for academics of photo books in these regional areas.” Sarah Allen, Assistant Curator, International Art, Tate

martin_parr-lookingimg_1274-1The project was conceived at the Vienna Photobook Festival 2017, where Doug presented on Australian and New Zealand photo books, and the pair hosted a table featuring the Australia, and New Zealand, Photobook of the Year awards exhibition. The festival encompassed 100 tables of new and old photo books, and attracted key identities from the European photo book community.

Martin Parr, Gerry Badger and photo historian Hans-Michael Koetzle, attended Doug’s lecture and Parr took particular interest, immediately discussing the upcoming acquisition of 12,000+ photo books from his collection by the Tate. Following the lecture he felt his collection had a significant gap, and believed Doug and Victoria were the perfect candidates to rectify the situation and curate an Antipodean contribution.

doug-packing_6050-1000A few months later the Tate commissioned Cooper and Spowart to prepare a list of iconic antipodean photo books for adding to their collection The premise was that they,

“should resonate with the Australia and New Zealand social, political, environmental and cultural space of post-Second World War to early 21st century. Where possible, the works would be referred to or identified by curators and researchers for their prominence within the photographically illustrated and photo book publishing genres in the region.”

doug-in-shed_5677-1000Most books were sourced from their own library but they wanted to ensure that the books submitted were in the best possible condition, and sought out better copies from online booksellers, physical bookstores or directly from the creator themselves. Many photographers generously donated books to the project.

In January 2018 they met with Parr at the State Library of Victoria to review 30 of the proposed 52 books. Only a few didn’t make the cut, so the project proceeded, and it took another six months for them to prepare a detailed bibliography and related documentation about the books.

The books were received by the Tate on 12 April this year, where they underwent a process of cataloguing and archiving into the Martin Parr Photobook Collection. The provenance is recorded as ‘The Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper Photobook Research Library’ and the books will be publicly accessible in London from Spring 2020.

This is a major achievement for Spowart and Cooper, and the Australian and New Zealand photographic community, as works from our region are now permanently preserved and presented in the context of global photo book practice. The pair stated that, “while it is not a complete history of the photo book in Australia and New Zealand, it is an embryonic beginning for broader recognition of the unique voices and stories from our part of the world and those that make them.”

Coopart Tate collection

A full list of photographers in the collection is outlined below, and this montage depicts many of the books chosen. Doug and Victoria wish to acknowledge those who supported them during the project: Sarah Allen (Tate) for her coordination; Martin Parr for his interest and for providing a place for antipodean photo books in the Tate collection; to Lachlan Blair and Anna Pritz for making the connection with Regina Anzenberger; Gael Newton for her support; Helen and Donald Cole for their storage of books, and coordination of the shipment; and Des Cowley at the State Library of Victoria.

The list of photographers whose books represent our region are listed below. Coopart refers to books curated by Cooper+Spowart, while Martin Parr refers to books that were already in Parr’s collection

Jerrems

AUSTRALIAN BOOKS

  • Alan Hirons (Coopart)
  • Beverley Clifford (Coopart)
  • Bill Henson (Martin Parr)
  • Carol Jerrems (Coopart)
  • Charles P. Mountford (Coopart)
  • David Beal (Coopart)
  • David Mist (Coopart)
  • David Moore (Coopart)
  • Douglas Holleley (Coopart)
  • Douglass Baglin (Coopart)
  • Frank Hurley (Coopart)
  • Frank Hurley (Martin Parr)
  • Georg Lindström (Coopart)
  • P.J. Hurley (Martin Parr)
  • Jeff Carter (Coopart)
  • Joyce Evans (Coopart)
  • Juno Gemes (Coopart)
  • Marion Hardman (Coopart)
  • Mark Strizic (Coopart)
  • Max Dupain AU Coopart
  • Max Pam (Martin Parr)
  • Michael Amendolia (Coopart)
  • Michael Coyne (Coopart)
  • Olive McInerney nee Olive Cotton (Coopart)
  • Paul Cox (Coopart)
  • Peter Lyssiotis (Coopart)
  • Rennie Ellis (Coopart)
  • Richard Tipping (Coopart)
  • Robert B. Goodman (Coopart)
  • Robert Rosen (Coopart)
  • Sandy Edwards (Coopart)
  • Trent Parke (Martin Parr)
  • Wesley Stacey (Coopart)
  • William Yang (Coopart)

NEW ZEALAND BOOKS

  • Ann Shelton (Coopart)
  • Anne Noble (Coopart)
  • Ans Westra (Coopart & Martin Parr)
  • Brian Brake (Coopart)
  • Bruce Connew (Coopart)
  • David Cook (Coopart)
  • Gary Baigent (Martin Parr)
  • Glenn Jowitt (Coopart)
  • Grant Sheehan (Coopart)
  • Haruhiko Sameshima (Coopart)
  • Harvey Benge (Martin Parr)
  • Jocelyn Carlin (Coopart)
  • John B. Turner (Coopart)
  • Laurence Aberhart (Coopart)
  • Les Cleveland (Coopart)
  • Lloyd Godman (Coopart)
  • Marti Friedlander (Coopart)
  • Mary Macpherson (Coopart)
  • Peter Black (Coopart)
  • Robin Morrison (Coopart)

Find the original post here, and for more information head to The Antipodean Photobook blog.

About the author Momento Photobooks

Co-founder + Marketing Manager of Momento, creators of premium photo books + custom stationery. A 100% Australian owned + made company dedicated to helping amateur, enthusiast + professional photographers preserve their images in style at www.momento.com.au.

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6 Comments

  1. Hi, the list only shows the photographers who are represented in the collection. Many of the photographers listed published more than one book. Where can I find a list of the book titles that were included?

    Reply

    1. Hi RJK – we shall investigate and get back to you!

      Reply

    2. Hey RJK – You can see some of the titles in the book collage here and learn more at https://theantipodeanphotobook.com.

      Reply

  2. 4 Australian women, 2 NZ women. My heart breaks

    Reply

    1. Who do you think should be on the list tantan?

      Reply

    2. Please enlighten me with the names of other female photographers who should have been included.

      Reply

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