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Book Launch: Olive Cotton by Helen Ennis
Talks / Lecture
Join award-winning author Helen Ennis as she shares her experience with Alex Sloan about writing the moving and powerful biography of modernist photographer, Olive Cotton.
Olive Cotton was a significant artist and pioneer whose talent was recognised as equal to her first husband's, Max Dupain. Olive and Max could have been Australia's answer to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but in the early 1940s, Cotton quit their marriage and Sydney studio lifestyle to live with second husband, Ross McInerney and raised their two children in a tent on a farm near Cowra. Despite the barriers of this new lifestyle and not having access to a dark room, Olive continued her photography away from the public eye until she was shot back to fame in 1985 by a landmark exhibition in Sydney, and a major retrospective at the AGNSW in 2000.
A moving story about talent and creativity, Emeritus Professor Ennis explores the life of Olive Cotton and what it means for an artist to manage the competing demands of art, work, marriage, children and family.
Helen Ennis won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction for her biography Margaret Michaelis: Love, loss and photography, which was also judged Best Book by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. Her research on Olive Cotton has been supported by the Australia Council Literature Board, a Peter Blazey Fellowship, and the ABR/George Hicks Foundation Fellowship. Formerly Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia, Helen went on to become Director of the Centre for Art History and Art Theory and Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History at ANU School of Art & Design. Since 2000 she has curated eight major exhibitions for the National Library of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Australia and other cultural exhibitions. Now Emeritus Professor, Helen is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.
Alex Sloan AM has been a journalist for 30 years, including over 27 years as a broadcaster with the ABC. An award-winning journalist, Alex is highly regarded as an MC, interviewer and facilitator including: The ANU Meet The Author events, The National Library, National Museum of Australia, National Gallery of Australia and National Portrait Gallery.
In 2017 Alex was named Canberra Citizen of the Year and is a member of the ACT Architects Board. At the national level, Alex is a director of The Australia Institute and The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
Max Dupain, Olive Cotton, Holding Camera, 1937 (detail), Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, SAFE/PXA 1951