In late 2012, in the dead of night (and without permission), a group of Fairfax photographers pasted 40 large-scale photo prints onto a wall on Elizabeth Street. Just 12 hours later the City of Sydney responded. It applauded the guerilla installation and now, on a stretch of unassuming brick beneath the Goulburn Street Parking Station on Elizabeth Street, sits Australia’s first public photography gallery – the Elizabeth Street Gallery.
Before being given new life the site was usually papered over by posters. This month a fresh collection of photographic works has been pasted up as part of a new partnership with the city. The project’s instigators (and those original gallery-creators of the night) – award-wining photographers Dean Sewell, Nic Walker and Andrew Quilty – are its curators. They have hand selected six photographic essays to feature on the wall.
Sydney-based photographer Lyndal Irons presents scenes from another Sydney street with her series Parramatta Road, which captures the eccentric charm of the infamous highway. Melbourne-based Josh Robenstone presents In the Darkest Light, a series of black-and-white images showing urban scenes. In Untitled, Marco Bok invites us into the gothic cliques on the steps of Town Hall. Also featured are Tom Williams (Neighbourhood), Daniel Hartley-Allen (Kids) and Brodie Standen (The Space Between Men). The new images have been made entirely graffiti proof and will hang until the next call out for submissions.
“This is about taking work to a place where the other founders and I have always felt more comfortable,” says Quilty. “Instead of doing another formal exhibition in a white-walled Darlinghurst gallery, we put our pictures in a place that felt right to us.” The gallery ditches the regular white-cube gallery space, side-steps bureaucratic barriers to public art and welcomes photography into the realm of street art.
The Elizabeth Street Gallery Elizabeth Street, between Campbell and Goulburn Streets, Sydney