May 1: Forum

Date #1A Photographic Forum, Brought to Light: Darkrooms to glasshouses, the enduring presence of photography, is to be held Saturday 20 May, 2:00pm–5:00pm at the Castlemaine Art Museum, which describes it as “an afternoon dedicated to light, glass, and photographic histories; the legacy of Adolphus Verey (1862 – 1933); and contemporary approaches to old methods.”

The afternoon features a range of speakers, among which I am one, with a magic lantern exposition by specialist in that historical medium, the irrepressible Martyn Jolly (co-author of Installation View); and including (among illustrious others listed below) Harry Nankin, photogramist on an grand scale of epic subjects; expert practitioner of alternative and vintage processes Ellie Young; and a tour by Jane Brown of her exhibition in the Art Museum, about which I have written here. 

Jane Brown West Wall Witchell_sm
There’s a certain Slant of light with Jane Brown, Castlemaine Art Museum, oblique view of West end of Witchell Gallery

The show appears amidst a survey of works curated from the collection by our Jenny Long,  A Certain Slant of Light. Brown, in paying homage to drawing with light, presents us with a history lesson in photographic techniques and processes; internegatives; wet plate; silver gelatin and orotones.

Unknown maker (c.1880) Carved Victorian (19th century) card-holder box used for visiting cards. Ivory, 18 x 7 x 1.5 cm. Collection of the Castlemaine Art Museum

She includes photograms made from a Victorian lusterware candleholder, and displays items from her own and the Museum’s collection including a carte-de-visite salver (depicting the Crystal Palace) and a holder for such visiting cards in ivory carved exquisitely with chinoiserie in ivory. Brown has also been inspired by the little-known history, and rediscovery, of local portrait photographer Adolphus Verey.


Papier-maché japanned Card Tray (c. 1855-1860) with engraving of The Crystal Palace, London, and a figured gilt border, transfer printed. Image dates from after The Crystal Palace had been dismantled and rebuilt in Sydenham, reopening in 1854 and since it shows only one of two water-towers 1855, it, or at least the image on it, was probably made around that time.


Jane Brown (Melbourne), Glass Labyrinths
Justin Shortal (Castlemaine), Introduction to Castlemaine photographic studio A Verey and Co, 1883 – 1954
Sophie Couchman (Melbourne), What Verey’s camera lens reveals about Castlemaine’s Chinese community
James McArdle (Castlemaine), A Garden, Moonlit (Robert Vere Scott and Adolphus Verey)
Harry Nankin (Castlemaine), Cameraless photography and the ecological gaze
Ellie Young (Trentham), My Carbon Footprint: Historic processes and Gold Street Studios
Martyn Jolly (Canberra), The Magic Lantern Apparatus


Jane Brown is a visual artist and Director of the Visual Cultures Resource Centre at the University of Melbourne. Her keen interest in the history of photography and photography conservation is reflected in her lectures on these subjects at the University. Jane has established herself as a skilled darkroom practitioner with a particular focus on 19th and early 20th Century photographic processes. Her work has been recognized by institutions such as the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida, USA, who have included her works in their collections. In 2013 she received the Art and Australia/Credit Suisse Contemporary Art Award. This year Jane has been invited to present a paper on photomechanical prints for the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Her work is currently on display at the Castlemaine Art Museum, Victoria, for the exhibition ‘There’s a certain Slant of light with Jane Brown.’

Dr Sophie Couchman is a Professional Historian and Curator who works closely with communities to tell their stories. She has researched and published in the field of Chinese-Australian history for many years and has been involved in the development of historical projects such as exhibitions, walking tours, oral histories and online resources. Her doctoral thesis explored the ways in which Chinese immigrants and their descendants in Australia were photographed and how stereotypes about Chinese Australians were reinforced through photography. She was curator at the Chinese Museum for seven years but has since worked on a range of projects including the British Migrants: Instant Australians exhibition (2018), Shooting the Past podcast (2018), Chinese Australian Hometown Heritage Tours (2017-2019), and the Makassar-Yirrkala: Creative Collaboration (2019). She is currently the Professional Historians Australia (Vic & Tas) Vice-President (Programs), recording oral histories for the National Library of Australia and writing a book on the Leong-Lim family.

Martyn Jolly is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. As an artist he has participated in several major curated exhibitions and developed solo exhibitions which creatively re-use archival photographs. His works are in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Canberra Museum and Gallery. He has also developed a series of collaborative magic lantern performances around Australia, available on YouTube. As a writer he has researched various aspects of the history of photography, particularly Australian photography. His books include Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography; The Magic Lantern at Work: Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting, co-edited with Elisa deCourcy; Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: The Global Career of Showman Daguerreotypist J. W. Newland, co-authored with Elisa deCourcy; and Installation View: Australian Photography Exhibitions 1848-2020, co-authored with Daniel Palmer.

Harry Nankin (2016) Moth Liturgy 1, 2016 Pigment ink jet print on archival rag paper. Image 54 x 198 cm

Harry Nankin. For forty years, photographer, educator and environmentalist Harry Nankin’s focus has been our contested material, spiritual and ethical relationship with the non-human world. Pursuing an ‘ecological gaze’ he has recorded the shadows of nature – ocean, rain, forests, live insects, the light of the stars – on photographic paper and film without a camera, just as the flash of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima caught the shadows of its victims at the instant of their perishing. Employing procedures that are as much land art and ritual as photography he has ‘turned the landscape into the camera’. Harry is the recipient of multiple arts grants and his work has been exhibited, reviewed, short-listed for prizes or acquired for collections on four continents. To interpret the post-Goldrush landscapes of central Victoria where he now lives, in 2020 Harry returned to the film camera.

Justin Shortal’s interest in Castlemaine’s 19th Century photographers began over 40 years ago when he acquired photographs by Adolphus Verey from local antique dealers. Justin came to Castlemaine as an English/drama teacher at Castlemaine High School in 1977. He was a founding member of Central Victoria’s first Community radio station, 3CCC-FM where he produced radio programs with students from schools across the region. He also produced training films for a local company, VEA (Video Education Australasia). Justin went on to work as a researcher, writer, producer, director and presenter for the Schools’ Television Unit of the Victorian Department of Education in East Melbourne. His final career move took him to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) as Communications Manager. In retirement, Justin continues his passion for researching stories of the district’s early photographers and hopes to publish his findings.

Ellie Young is the founder of Gold Street Studios in Victoria Australia. Since the establishment in 1999 Gold Street Studios has become the centre for alternative photographic print processes in Australia and New Zealand. The studio provides a resource centre for photographic image-makers. It attracts local and international participants seeking to advance their knowledge and skills in the art, craft, and science of traditional handmade and early photographic print processes from local and international tutors. Ellie Young self-published The Salt Print Manual in 2011 and has exhibited widely in Australia, Europe, England and China. Works and articles published in books and magazines, locally and internationally. Teaching in Nanjing, Tanjing and Beijing China has allowed the craft and skills to be shared with the arts and photographic community within China.

If you’ll be nearby, it’s a free event, but bookings are essential: Click here to book.

Jane Brown (2022) detail; To be looked at with one eye, close to, for almost an hour. Silver gelatin print on expired Agfa paper. Collection of the artist

One thought on “May 1: Forum

  1. Thanks for sending me the info about the photographic forum. Susanne and I will be there if we can pass the waiting list….We tried to book as soon as we got your message but we got put on a waiting list…

    LOVE to show it Magnet………………………


    MAGNET GALLERIES MELBOURNE INC. Magnet is a Not for Profit centre of photography designed to draw together people with an interest in and a passion for photography, to share their knowledge, experience and aspirations and gain new insights and expertise

    *SC G19 Wharf Street , The District, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria, 3008, Australia *

    Phone : (03) 8589 0371

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    Susanne Silver mobile : 0419 825 625


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