Early Australian photographs by pioneering photographer Charles Bayliss – some not seen by the public in more than 130 years – will go on display at the National Library in Canberra on Friday 11 July.

The extraordinary work and career of Bayliss, one of Australia’s greatest 19th century photographers, will be examined in detail in A Modern Vision, an exhibition curated by Senior Lecturer at the ANU School of Art, Helen Ennis. A Modern Vision features the full range of Bayliss’ output – architectural photography, panoramas, landscapes and scenes of life at the time.

Helen Ennis said Bayliss produced some of the most famous photographs of the 19th century, including some spectacular panoramas, especially of Sydney, taken in the 1870s. “He was a wonderful photographer; much praised in his own lifetime both in Australia and overseas, but is now not as well known as he should be.”

A Modern Vision is based on the National Library’s extensive collection, including recent acquisitions, with selected loans from other institutions. Highlights are fascinating photographs of life in the goldmining towns of Hill End and Gulgong in NSW, 1872-73.

The exhibition features photographs of Sydney, Melbourne, Stawell and Ballarat, as well as the Blue Mountains, the Jenolan Caves and the Darling River in the flood of 1886.
“These are extraordinary photographs in terms of Australian photographic history. Bayliss’ acute visual intelligence and strong personal style are evident throughout in beautifully composed and dynamic photographs,” Helen Ennis said.

Also opening at the Library on 11 July is Wild Places, an exhibition of remarkable modern Australian panoramic photographs by Richard Green.

A Modern Vision and Wild Places are part of the inaugural Vivid: National Photography Festival, which is being held in the Canberra region from 11 July to 12 October 2008.

A Modern Vision, 11 July – 26 October 2008, Exhibition Gallery. Open daily, 9 am – 5 pm. Free. Wild Places, 11 July – 16 November 2008, Visitor Centre and 4th Floor. Open daily. Free.

Helen Ennis is available for interview. High-resolution images are available for download at http://www.nla.gov.au/media/

Media contacts: Sally Hopman, 02 6262 1704; shopman@nla.gov.au
Ellen Peterson, 02 6262 1571; epeterson@nla.gov.au