Apart from being a library, the State Library of NSW also plays host to various art exhibits throughout the year, usually revolving around photography or exhibitions with a historical slant. The library is hosting three photographic exhibits currently: the Nikon-Walkley Press Photography exhibition, Next Door – a series of photographs on Australian suburbia, and their major exhibit Planting Dreams – a look at contemporary garden design.
While the State Library hosts the World Press Photos event yearly, it also plays host to the Nikon-Walkley Press Photography exhibition which focuses on Australian photojournalism. Like with most photojournalism exhibitions, you shouldn’t really walk in expecting an uplifting time. This year had the usual powerful images of war zones, confronting images of poverty and violence in Australia and the whimsical and extraordinary sports photos, the standard affair when it comes to photojournalism. The exhibition isn’t really that big though, only being eight double sided boards next to the entrance to the library.
Upstairs in the hallway gallery they had the Next Door exhibit by Paul Blackmore, a series of B&W photographs of suburbian homes. Blackmore captures a variety of moments in the suburbs, some candid and others posed, but all with an intimacy that makes people’s homes feel welcoming. What impressed me the most was the range of yards on display, branching out from just white families to include other ethnicities, such as Vietnamese and Chinese, and also his subtle jab at the economic differences, shooting the front gate to one of the upscale houses, making it seem like it was the most unwelcoming of places.
The major exhibit on at the library is Planting Dreams, a look at contemporary garden design through photography and art. While most of the gardens photographed seem grand and out of reach for the person, I do enjoy a good garden regardless, as they require a high level of duty and care to maintain. The first part of the exhibition shows off large backlit photos arranged in an almost maze like manner, making you walk around explore the space much like a garden maze. In the gallery wings, there are more standard photos some very nice looking (and expensive) gardens. While landscape photography generally isn’t my thing, these photos were hard not to be impressed by. Toward the back of the gallery space, the exhibition takes a more historical turn dealing with the history of garden design in Australia all the way back to the founding of Sydney and the Aboriginal influence on gardens.
With the three exhibitions on, its hard to pass up a quick visit to the State Library for a casual stroll through if you’re in the area.