Edward Cranstone, Photographer


Photofile, c1984

Recently the Australian National Gallery benefited from a gift by the photographer Edward Cranstone of seven spiral bound albums containing approximately 350 of his photographs from the Depression and Second World War years.

The albums contain three main groups of work: freelance photography from the late 1930s; photographs taken for the Department of Information between 1939 and 1941; and documentation of the work of the Allied Works Council in building strategic roads, aerodromes, etc. in Australia’s interior between 1942 and 1944.

The Second World War saw a flowering of documen­tary photography in Australia, with photographers like Max Dupain, Frank Hurley, Damien Parer, George Silk, Laurie Le Guay and Edward Cranstone all extensively documenting various aspect of the War. Little of this material has yet been seen in its entirety, and none of it has received the attention in deserves. In the case of Edward Cranstone a body of excellent photography and a fascinating document from war-time Australia’s visual culture is only now coming to light.

Born in 1903, Cranstone took up photography seriously at the onset of the Depression to supplement his income as a jazz drummer.’ Around 1935. to learn more about photographic technique, he approached the famous pioneering Melbourne Pictorialist John Kauffmann, who at the time, perhaps himself in straitened circumstances, was offering lessons. These lessons came for a fee Cranstone could not possibly afford, however a com­promise was soon reached whereby Cranstone worked un­paid in Kauffmann’s studio, and Kauffmann taught Cranstone photography. The relationship suited both par­ties: Kauffmann was still primarily involved in making art photographs, mainly close-up flower studies and views of picturesque Melbourne. The relationship, which lasted a year, is remembered as a very profitable one by Cranstone. Kauffmann lectured him about composition and lighting, took him to exhibitions, lent him books and showed him Pictorialist techniques.

Cranstone was soon freelancing, concentrating on portraiture. When Kauffmann retired in 1938, he sold his studio to one of his pay ing pupils who took Cranstone on as an assistant at a pound a week. Thereupon Cranstone’s work appeared under the studio owner’s name in a rented showcase in Collins Street, where Melbourne’s most prestigious photographic studios were located. At this time Cranstone also began a long association with Edna Walling, the avant-garde landscape gardener well known for her informal, naturally Australian gardens which Cranstone was to photograph for the rest of her career.

Later, towards the end of the war, Cranstone was to join the social circle that gathered around Danila Vassilieff, the flamboyant Russian painter who was a significant influence and inspiration to the expressionistic and politically left wing Melbourne painters of the 1940s. Cranstone’s closest photographic confederates at this time were Geoffrey Powell, Axel Poignant and Damien Parer. Although all were documentary photographers, approached their photography from significantly dif­ferent directions. Powell, politically active on the Left, pro­duced his photography within a particular political and social ideology. Poignant, on the other hand, developed a humanistic and pantheistic basis to his imagery. Damien Parer, who Cranstone first met at Kauffmann’s studio, photographed and filmed within ideas of clear, unen­cumbered reportage.

The polyphony of voices that Cranstone listened to and appreciated at this time reflected the unresolved and dissonant nature of the photographic discourse of the 1930s and ’40s. Pictorialism, which located photography within a traditional art discourse, was still a vital force; however it was increasingly being opposed by Modernist photography, the spare, reduced, flattened forms of which became the parlance for the fashion and magazine in­dustries both overseas and in Australia during the 1930s. The possibilities of a revitalized documentary photo­graphy, actively engaging in the world, were also being discussed at this time. Examples reached Australia mainly through such magazines as Life and Picture Post, for which photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bill Brandt worked.

Cranstone’s own photography from the ’30s echoes this commotion. His photographs range from extreme close-ups of Rolex watches to views of pastoral Australia elegantly seen through framing gum trees. Bird’s-eye views of bathers at the beach and documentary snapshots of life on Melbourne’s busy streets also feature. His most successful photographs from this period, however, are portraits. Waiting for the skipper, for in­stance, is a sophisticated Modernist image, being broken into strong verticals and horizontals by the yacht’s mast and the horizon line. As is characteristic of many of Cran­stone’s images, the space behind the figures is flattened into a single planar backdrop which emphasises the primary forms of the figures and mast.

In 1937, Cranstone joined the Department of Commerce, which with the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 became the Department of Information. As head photographer, Cranstone recruited two other photo­graphers to cover the War overseas, Damien Parer, who later became well known for his newsreel coverage of the War in New Guinea, and George Silk, who went on to photograph for Life magazine. Frank Hurley later took charge of these photographers in the Middle East.

For the first two years of the War, Cranstone photo­graphed in Australia, documenting the manufacture of munitions and Australia’s own ill-fated warplane, the Wirraway, as well as military training and embarkations. These two years saw the rapid development of Cranstone’s photography into very precisely evocative im­ages of strength and heroism constructed around strong diagonal compositons and severe upward looking camera angles. For instance, in one image a Wirraway sits on a tar­mac silhouetted against a backdrop of brooding storm clouds, its body and wing thrusting up and out of the photograph. In Making of an Anzac. originally taken for, but never published in, American Vogue, all the signs of ‘Australianness’ are present: the jaunty stance, the cocky look, the casually held cigarette, the gum-tree and the far horizon. But the extreme camera angle pushes the horizon line down so that the soldier almost floats above it against a clear sky; similarly, the gum tree becomes a dislocated com­positional element. This exaggerated viewpoint draws at­tention to the ‘gaze’ of the camera and gives an almost iconic force to the figure of the soldier, making him signify “Australian soldiery”.

Two of the best images from this period similarly give the figure iconic status. Both employ an upward looking camera, flattened space, and a backdrop of clear sky. In Naval training, (semaphore) elements of the ship frame the figures, and in their upward movement complement their actions. In Naval training, (foursailors) the figures casually disport themselves across the image, all emphasis is placed on their clear, angelic expressions as they gaze into space, connoting youth, strength and purity. In Munitions manufacture gleaming bomb shells are photographed so that as they are stacked in a spatially receding row they simultaneously fill the picture plane in an aggressive diagonal movement. All of Cranstone’s photography from this period has remarkable internal consistency; and is also consistent with much other imagery that had been produced in Europe, particularly Germany and the Soviet Union, dur­ing the 1920s and 30s.

The deployment of this particular, explicit form of ‘photographic seeing’ that characterises Cranstone’s im­agery had been an issue in Europe for thirty years. The story of its development, progress, and various permuta­tions is an extremely complex one. Briefly, its origins can be traced to the ideas of ‘ostranenie’, or ‘making strange’, developed by the pre-revolutionary Russian Futurists, which were subsequently taken up in the Soviet Union by such photographers as Alexander Rodchenko. These ideas also found voice in Germany, (with photographers like Laszlo Moholy-Nagy), where through the Bauhaus and New Objectiviey movements they eventually merged with the general Modernist canon, which by the 1930s had become thoroughly integrated into the cultural hegemony of the West.

Originally, this radical formalism was seen as being in­herently revolutionary, in fact an optical analogue of political revolution. However, this form of ‘photographic seeing’ began to come under attack in Europe in the 1920s and ’30s. The Russian Society for Proletarian Photojourn­alism and the German Worker Photographer movement accused it of being merely bourgeois formalism inaccess­ible to workers. However, some of its elements can still be found in the official propaganda imagery of both Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany right up to the Second World War. These elements, (most notably the upward-looking camera angle, strong rising forms, and clear, direct lighting), became part of the rhetoric of the heroisation and iconisation of the worker, soldier and machine. At this particular historical instant, revolutionary formalism permutated into na­tionalistic formalism.

Cranstone’s specific access to this imagery is difficult to determine. Some sources, however, are clear. Through­out the War, Cranstone saw and was very impressed by the films of the Soviet Revolutionary director, Sergei Eisenstein, which were shown in Melbourne by the Australia-Soviet Friendship League, an organization of the Com­munist Party of Australia. He was particularly impressed by such films as “Ten days that shook the world” and “Bat­tleship Potemkin “. He may also have had access to official Soviet propaganda imagery, some of which was published in The Tribune during 1-9-39 and 1940, and which bears a close resemblance to his own work. From 1944, Cranstone himself contributed photographs to the Tribune. In any case his imagery has much in common, both conceptually and structurally, with the most sophisticated European propaganda photography of the 1920s and ’30s.

Early in 1942, Cranstone was transferred to the posi­tion of official photographer for the public relations depart­ment of the Allied Works Council (A.W.C.). The A.W.C. was formed as a result of General Macarthur’s discussions with Australia’s Prime Minister John Curtin, held in an ef­fort to expand Australia’s till then somewhat tardy war ef­fort.’ The A.W.C. was modelled on the Soviet Stakhanovites, the Nazi Todt Organization and the U.S. Civil Construction Corps. Under the leadership of the retired politician E.G. Theodore it called up men from the ages of 35 to 55. usually excluded from military service, to form the Australian Civil Construction Corps (C.C.C.). After call-up. men were sent to distant camps in Australia’s interior to begin work on strategic aerodromes, roads, etc. Conditions were harsh, and the conscripted men often in­itially unwilling. In addition there was considerable, and continuing, suspicion of the A.W.C.’s management: E.G. Theodore, who had a chequered past in politics and business, employed as his Director of Personnel a close business associate Frank Packer, the newspaper owner.3

The Unions involved frequently campaigned against what they saw as mismanagement, wastage and favouritism within the A.W.C. Disputes and stoppages were common. The A.W.C. management, in turn, accused the Unions and workers of hindering the war effort. In March 1943 a Commission of Inquiry was held under the National Security Regulations into “Certain Allegations Concerning   the   Administration    of   the   A.W.C.”* Although the Commission found no basis for the allega tions, the inquiry itself is indicative of considerable discon­tent.

A memo from Packer’s department in 1942 stated, “You should realise first that these men are human, and in many instances the circumstances of their call-up creates a certain quite natural feeling of resentment. Brusque, discourteous and overbearing methods in dealing with them only tend to aggravate this feeling. The result is a deep seated discontent which colours their whole future outlook and can cause an immense amount of trouble for officers of the C.C.C. who have to exercise authority over them.”5

All of this added up to a serious P. R. problem for the A. W.C. both internally and externally, and it was into this situation that Cranstone was transferred. Cranstone moved into premises in Collins Street with a small darkroom and an assistant, Vera Hodgson (whom he later married), to process the films, print the negatives and file the photographs. Cranstone was able to move quite freely around Australia with the full support of the A. W.C. He always travelled with the public relations officer, Frank Clancy, who planned the team’s itinerary and wrote the captions for the photographs. In the far north they travel­led very lightly, with only one Rolliflex, a few filters and film kept dry in bags of tea.

Cranstone exposed almost 2,000 negatives for the A.W.C, and approximately 7,000 prints a year were distributed from the department, both in Australia and overseas. At the end of the war it was estimated that ap- proximately 6,000 inches of Australian newspaper space were occupied by Cranstone’s photography per year.6

The most successful publicity project, however, was a travelling exhibition which toured to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra in 1944. It comprised up to 500 of Cranstone’s photographs, some enlarged to 1.5 x 2.0 metres, with accompanying texts. Paintings by William Dobell and Herbert McClintock were also exhibited. The exhibition was enthusiastically received by the press and seen by approximately 80,000 people.

Cranstone’s photography can therefore be seen to have played a vital role in an extensive and well-orchestrated public relations campaign. The thrust of the campaign is summed up in another memo emanating from Packer’s department. “In so far as it is possible to do so you must, at all times, strive to impress on the men that they are not mere drudges performing a dull and routine task, but Australians, carrying out work of the first importance, without which the nation’s ability to defend itself adequately, or to launch an offensive, will be hamstrung. Everything possible should be done to make the men see themselves as civilian shock troops standing immediately behind the fighting services.”7

These themes of the “army behind the army”8 and “white collar shock troops”‘ are taken up in Cranstone’s photography of the C.C.C. workers and their projects. His imagery exhibits strong affinities with images of the pro­letariat worker used in Europe and the U.S.S.R. between the wars. It redeploys this imagery from a revolutionary, class-conscious context into the context of Australia’s na­tionalistic war-effort. In C.C.C. worker, a diagonal composition and up­ward looking camera angle are again used. Strips of shadow twisting across the worker’s bare torso emphasise his strength and physicality as he pushes a spanner forward and out of the picture plane. This action links, composi-tionally and connotatively, his right hand, as it easily grasps the tool, to his face, as it looks up into the distance. All this iconises the worker — his strength, his skill and his commitment to his task.

Cranstone also photographed the machinery and con­struction work of the C.C.C. In C.C.C. Construction the workers are supported, both physically and compositional-ly, by the beams of a building firmly criss-crossing between the edges of the photograph. In another image of a worker with a drill the worker almost becomes part of the machine, connoting a symbiotic relationship between workers and their tools (front cover). Cranstone’s photography can therefore be seen to have operated along two axes. In his highly codified treat­ment of the specifics of the A.W.C.’s activities he con­structed nationalistic metaphors for strength and commit­ment that could then be metonymically deployed within the documentary narrative structures of contemporary newspaper reports on the A.W.C. as well as the travelling exhibition. Or, to use a different terminology, Cranstone’s photographs were deployed syntagmatically as documents of the strategic works of the A.W.C. and paradigmatically as evocations of a nationalistically committed Australian worker. This paradigm excluded the worker as a classed, aged or self-aware individual.'”

As a reviewer of the exhibition for the Melbourne Herald wrote, “it would be surprising if most people did not take away a warm impression of that typical Australian, stripped to the waist, working on untouched land, levelling it, digging into it or building up from it. In a real immediate way, the show tells the story of how Australia — the coun­try itself — has gone to war.””

After the war Cranstone became a cinematographer for the Commonwealth Film Unit, now Film Australia, until his retirement in 1966. Immediately following the war he continued some politically conscious documentary photography in the slums of Sydney for a short time. However he eventually gave up serious photography.

He regards his photography for the A.W.C. as his most important work, and it remains an impressive body of imagery even today. As he wrote at the end of the spiral bound albums that are the only remaining record of the ex­hibition: “Exhibitied in the capital cities of Australia, they have been able to change completely the attitude of the public towards the C.C.C. This attitude, created entirely by the repeated attacks of the newspapers, persisted right up to the time the exhibition was first shown. This demonstrates very plainly that documentary photography can be a real factor because of its ability to bare the truth.”13

1. I would like to thank Edward and Vera Cranstone for the time they have spent with me. Most of the following biographical information is obtained from an interview recorded with them in March 1983 and an autobiographical manuscript supplied by Edward Cranstone. See also Edward Cranstone, “Documentary Assignment”, Contemporary Photography, vol. 1, no. 2, 1947.

2. Lloyd Ross. John Curtin — a biography. Macmillan. 1977. p.288 See also J.A. Morley, “The Allied Works Council”. Rydge’s Magazine. November 1942.

3. Irwin Young. Theodore — his Life and Times. Alpha Books.! 971. pp.

4. H.P. Brown (Commissioner). Inquiry under the National Security Regulations into the Administration of the Allied Works Council. 5 March 1942. National Library of Australia.

5. W. Steward Howard Manner of dealing with recruits. A.W.C. Person nel Department Circular No. 1. Australian Archives. Brighton, Victoria, ac cession no. M.P. 72, series 1-18.

6. F. Clancy. A Report upon the Photographic Activities of the Allied Works Council 15/12/42 — 30/6/45. Department of Works. Australian Ar chives, op. cit.

7. Quoted in ” “White Collar” Troops Carry On” The Sun 3/8/42.

8. “The civilian army behind the fighting army.” The Sydney Morning Herald 1/8/42.

9. The Sun op. cit.

10. See Roland Barthes. Elements of Semiology. Hill and Wang, 1968.

11. K..K. “Australia Portrayed Stripped to the Waist”. Herald. 3/8/44.

12. Edward Cranstone. Design for War. Vol. 3. Collection: Australian National Gallery.     MARTYN JOLLY

Martyn Jolly is Curatorial Assistant in the Depart­ment of Photography, Australia National Gallery.

Rupture, Generation or Continuity? The 70’s and an ’80’s Photography, 1984

Rupture, Generation or Continuity? The 70’s and an ’80’s Photography (A Speech from a Rostrum)

After the Artefact: An exhibition of Contemporary Photographic Practice

Wollongong City Gallery, 1984

At the end of 1983, as part of its normal exhibition programme, the Department of Photography at the Australian National Gallery held an exhibition ‘A decade of Australian photography 1972-1982’. The exhibition was drawn from the Philip Morris Arts Grant Collection, a corporate sponsorship programme that oriented itself around the work of ‘young bold and innovative artists’. The show was the latest of a succession of exhibitions and publications drawn from that collection, the largest and most significant collection of ’70’s Australian photography. It was not the exhibition’s intention to offer a significant reappraisal of the period’s photography, more to provide a curatorial summation of the collection itself. For these reasons the exhibition would have been largely familiar to anyone acquainted with recent Australian photography and the Philip Morris Arts Grant.

Yet something did distinguish this exhibition from previous Philip Morris Arts Grants exhibitions and publications: despite the fact that some works of quite recent execution were included, one couldn’t help but get the sense, when viewing the exhibition, that what was once a ‘now’ photography had become a ‘then’ photography, what was once ‘our’ photography had become ‘their’ photography.

The exhibition seemed to arouse little interest within the ranks of Australia’s newer photographers. This apparent disinterest in the work exhibited revealed, once and for all, that the photography ‘explosion’ of the early ’70’s, which had stopped the clocks for six or seven years, was now no longer even an echo. From the viewpoint of 1983 the ’70’s was, for photography at least, a long summer that didn’t so much turn into autumn as disappear over the horizon.

Not only were many of today’s emerging photographers ignorant of the emergence of their predecessors in the ’70’s, they were also disinterested. They seemed to find the work uninspirational and easily locatable within the larger histories of photography that they had been taught. To them, art-historical chapter-headings such as ‘formalism’, ‘expressionism’, ‘street photography’, or ‘feminist pedagogy’ accrued all too easily to the work exhibited.

Though they may have been ignorant of the photographers, they were not ignorant of the photography. They thought that they had seen it all before.

The exhibition revealed a distinct sense of rupture between the ’70’s and the ’80’s photography. This is, of course, only to be expected: historical rupture is a central tenet of Modernism, against whose bosom photography has always snuggled. (Postmodernism will be referred to later in this essay.) Yet if we closely examine Australian photography since the boom of the early ’70’s, we find that this rupture is more readily identifiable within the institutions of Australian photography than in the photography itself.

For instance the dealer photography galleries of Melbourne, to which the eager young photographers of the ’70’s came with their portfolios under their arms, have either closed or appear to be on the verge of doing so. The Australian Centre for Photography, which opened as a separate gallery and workshop in the heart of Sydney’s dealer gallery belt, has restructured in a single building on Oxford Street, intent on broadening its basis in both the general and photographic communities. The privileged pedagogy of one or two ‘leading’ art colleges, with its concomitant valorization of the guru-like teacher, has been expanded into a whole range of educational opportunities right across Australia. The photographic climate seems to have changed so much that a one or two person show at a dealer gallery, so highly valued on the CVs of the ’70’s, seems to almost have an air of presumption in the ’80’s, when photographers are just as willing to join together to hold group and theme shows at a variety of institutional spaces. (Witness the present exhibition.)

Hence we have those terms I have used so freely thus far—the 70’s and the ’80’s. But although the institutional changes within Australian photography clearly indicate such a distinction, it is not nearly as clear within Australian photography itself.

In fact the continuities of theme and practice are just as evident as the discontinuities. The phallocentric juvenilia of the 70’s—the soppy shots of nude girlfriends, the sepiaed ‘studies’ of nature, etc., etc.—has thankfully shriveled. The serendipitous snaps of ‘streetwise’ photographers, which certainly had more to offer, have been banished in the face of popularly read critiques of the single, coherent photographic image and its place in hegemonic visual culture (in particular liberal-humanist press, film and TV discourses). It is tempting to suggest that disdain for the single image is the mark of ’80’s photography, but it is not a mark that distinguishes it from the ’70’s. Many of the most important photographers of the ’70’s worked with serial imagery (e.g. John Rhodes) constructing narratives at various levels of interpretive ambiguity. Others (e.g. Carol Jerrems) constructed directorial, almost fictionalised spaces, implicating the photographer in, and therefore deneutralizing, the act of photographing itself. Other photographers (e.g. Micky Allan) overtly compromised the photographs glassy, windowlike surface with sophisticated, gestural handcolouring techniques. The cataloguing imperative, as a structuring process that defines the photographer as a self-conscious investigator of the limits of the photograph as an informational and aesthetic unit, is also common to both decades. It is not difficult to see the diachronic lines of continuity, influence and individual career that are deeply scored across both the ’70’s and the ’80’s. The rupture between the decades is a contextual and an institutional one, rather than a formal, stylistic, or thematic one.

But this fails to explain why newer photographers tend to find the work of their predecessors boring. The reason is, I think, in large part because they feel they have seen it, or else work very much like it, ‘all before’. To them it remains, for all intents and purposes, virtually indistinguishable from similar work produced by European or American photographers.

The only thing that does, ultimately, divide the two decades is that, during the 70’s, any regionalist problematic that may have disturbed, or even affected, Australian photographers was swamped by the sheer newness of their activity. The question of sustaining any artistic photographic practice at all usurped the question of sustaining any particularly Australian photographic practice. The commonality felt by the Australian photographers of the 70’s was a commonality of time, of nowness, rather than a commonality of place, of hereness.

The young photographers of the 70’s probably felt entirely untroubled by regionalist problematics as their eyes scanned the magazine racks for the silver cover of Creative Camera containing this month’s collection of portfolios by their fellow young photographers in Europe or America. Likewise, overseas visitors were invited to Australia for pontificate visits and treated with a fraternal familiarity when they arrived. ‘One could say that photography in Australia is on the same plane as elsewhere’ claimed the editorial of the inaugural edition of Light Vision, ‘Australia’s International Photography Magazine’.

Thus, although there are, of course, differences identifiable in retrospect between photography in Australia and elsewhere during the 70’s, any sense of continuity between the 70’s and ’80’s amongst Australian photographers themselves tends to be dissipated in the sea of ‘global photography’ to which they blithely subscribe. Because the difference between the practices of photographers in Australia and photographers elsewhere are scrupulously effaced there seems nothing in particular for one generation of Australian photographers to contribute to the next. Collections such as the Philip Morris Arts Grant appear to become vitiated by their look-alikeness before they are even complete.

The 70’s and the ’80’s, having lost hold of each, other, seem to be carried along independently by the currents of global photography with its global histories. (This is not to elevate ‘global photography’ to the status of a hegemonic bogey.


Neither is it to call for a parochial tradition of ‘Australian photography-Australian art has already gone through several re-runs of that episode. Nor is it to call for the invention of a paternalistic relationship between the two ‘generations’.)

However, if a sense of continuity could be established for Australian photography, going all the way back to when the boom began in the early 70’s, then perhaps a more complex, stronger Australian photography would result, one that felt more confident in itself and had a more substantial basis from which to contribute to the current upheavals in Australian culture generally and Australian art in particular. Australian photography still inhabits the peripheral: the longer it continues to construct itself as a series of youthful nowness, the longer it will maintain the familiar problematics that have accompanied it throughout its history. These problematics centre around the right, or ability, of photography and photographers to participate in the art discourse at all. And if so, at what level.

It is in the face of these weary, but continuing problematics that this call for continuity is made. Because, from the point of view of art in the ’80’s, to make a call for photographers to re-examine, or even just examine, such a thing as the 70’s for a sense of continuity may seem reactionary in the extreme. After all, the leitmotif of ’80’s art is, under the rubric of Postmodernism, precisely the ruptures and foliations of synchronic sets of cultural nownesses. But to regard such a call as reactionary or misplaced is to ignore the discursive formation of photography within art.

Quite simply there was little art photography of any consequence in Australia before the 1970’s. We have to go back, probably to the 1930’s, before we can again find photography locating itself in the art discourse. Nor can photography be conveniently counted as just another component of ’80’s Postmodernism, the site for which is, primarily, still the traditional art mediums. Photographic reproductive processes may be crucial to much Postmodernist art, but art photography is not; nor, on the evidence is it dead. (Again, witness the present show.) Although a good deal of current photographic activity, some even from this show, can be inscribed into Postmodernist discourses (as broad as they are becoming), much photography, some even from this show as well, could not.

Furthermore, most probably because of those very problematics of photography within art, photography still resolutely refuses to become institutionally integrated into art, or to die out. Despite the devout prayers of photographic and art practitioners alike it remains a discipline all too readily identifiable by that one word —photography. Although photography was warmly welcomed by art in the 70’s, the fact that it is still regarded from a safe distance is readily apparent when one examines the geography of the hanging of recent Biennales and Perspectas; photography’s representation and presentation by dealer galleries; the course structures of art schools; the books and magazines in which photographic writings appear; and even shows such as this one, the motivational rationale for which is, simply, that all the ten artists exhibiting use photography. The photographic medium, rather than the photographic practice, is still the fundamental criterion for evaluating and categorizing photographers.

Thus we are left with the situation of photography being a medium which, like it or not, is left largely to itself to determine its own status, write its own histories, and inscribe its own formation within art. It is from this position that a call for continuity can be regarded as properly made.

And it is shows such as this one, with its casually random mixture of the ‘older’ and the ‘newer’ photographers—photographers who were collected during the 70’s along with photographers who contributed to the institutional changes of the ’80’s and photographers who have only recently graduated from art colleges, which may be a very useful point from which to begin to establish a continuity stretching back further than just a year or two. In this way, part of the boom of the 70’s could be profitably recouped for the ’80’s.

Martyn Jolly March 1984