Curated by Clare Stroud and Lisa Hegarty
Spanning three continents and almost twenty years, ‘Woldendorp: A Black and White Retrospective’ is a celebration of the early photographic life and career of Richard Woldendorp AM. These rarely seen black and white images - printed by Woldendorp through the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s – include his first experimental images from 1956, his award-winning portraiture from 1961, and photographs for one of his earliest books, ‘Indonesia’, taken in 1971.
Freelancing as a professional photographer since 1962, Woldendorp’s images include an array of portraiture of iconic Australian artists and politicians in their prime. Woldendorp’s home state of WA is a strong focus, capturing the Swan River, the back yards of Kalgoorlie and the stations and mining tenements of the Pilbara - humanity, nature and the built environment during these tumultuous times. Strongly influenced by his enlisted time in Indonesia in the late 1940’s, he returned there to shape a series of images that were to become the starting point of his publishing life. Throughout these images, we observe his eye for aerial photography evolving.
Born in Holland in 1927, Woldendorp studied design and painting. He immigrated to Australia in 1951 and bought his first camera in 1955. A 1st and 3rd prize in the Craven “A” National Portrait competition of 1961 allowed him to become a professional photographer and he went on to produce 23 books. His work has been exhibited widely in Australia, USA and Europe with his photography held in the collections of most Australian State and National galleries. He has won many awards and in 2004 was recognised as a “State Living Treasure”. In June 2012 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed the Order of Australia “For service to the arts as an Australian landscape photographer”.
Although best known for his aerial landscape photography, the black and white images surveyed not only capture candid moments of historic relevance and the phenomena of the physical world, they cement Woldendorp’s place as one of this country’s great story tellers. Through image and experience ‘Woldendorp: A Black and White Retrospective’ will be both familiar and beautiful.
Image: Richard Woldendorp, St Georges Terrace, Perth WA (BW056), vintage gelatin silver print, 1964
This exhibition and public program has been supported by DLGSCI Culture and the Arts (WA).