Tony Trobe talks with Helen McFadden, President of the Canberra Photographic Society, prior to the opening of the society’s latest exhibition.
Lichen Reclaiming by Judy Parker
TT Hi Helen, tell me something about the Canberra Photographic Society and why it is relevant in an age when we are surrounded by smart phones and bombarded by images?
Humans are visual creatures who love to capture and look at images. It is true that cameras are now ubiquitous, but it is the eyes, mind and heart that are essential for creating great images. We at the Canberra Photographic Society are passionate about growing our photography and helping others achieve their photographic potential no matter where they are on their photographic journey.
Why do you consider this to be of benefit to the community?
Many people enjoy having a creative outlet and photography has wide appeal. Photography can be as simple or as technical as you would like and we welcome all types of photographer. Many members find that the act of making photographs has a meditative quality that can be beneficial when dealing with health and life issues. Photography can also take us beyond recording places and experiences and allow us to explore and communicate ideas and emotions and even influence change. Photography can take you to places at home and away that you may not otherwise have visited or even considered. Some members travel extensively and share images of wonderful places when they return while others focus on local subjects and make beautiful and thought-provoking images from the apparently ordinary.
TT Where does your upcoming exhibition fit in with this vision?
This exhibition features members’ photographs that show the beauty and importance of the natural world. Our environment is changing rapidly with humans’ need for resources putting pressure on built and natural systems, wild places and wildlife. Some of the landscapes depicted in the exhibition, such as our magnificent eucalypt forests, are disappearing. Animals, such as the black rhino, are critically endangered. Pollinators are in decline. All are essential for our physical and emotional well-being. Sadly, in some instances photographs may be all that we have to leave for future generations unless we can reduce negative human impacts on our planet.
I understand that the Canberra Photographic Society was formed in 1945 and has seen a lot of changes in the way photography is practiced. Has the society itself changed much with the times?
I like to think so. We now have more emphasis on sharing, participation, collaboration and learning than on competition and our membership now is more diverse than it was. We run a full program (www.cpsaus.org) with our main event (on the first Tuesday evening of each month) being an Exhibition and Critique night. Visitors are welcome.
Why is this venue special for you?
I spent most of my career as a CSIRO scientist and I worked for a time in a laboratory in the Discovery Centre building where the exhibition is being held. Architects Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Pty Ltd won the AIA Canberra ACT Medallion in 2000 for the centre’s innovative design. In addition to the gallery and cafe most visitors come to the Interactive Discovery Centre to learn about Australia’s role in the fascinating world of science and research.
“The Natural World” is on at the Discovery Centre, CSIRO Black Mountain, from 21st August to 27th September 2018. The gallery is open from 9 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.