Exhibition showcases celebrated photojournalist’s work

Published on 13 February 2020

Mervyn Bishop.jpg

Images depicting defining moments in Australia’s political and social history have gone on display in Lake Macquarie as part of an exhibition showcasing lauded photographer Mervyn Bishop.


The exhibition at the Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) features a digital slideshow and 24 framed images, including an iconic 1975 photograph of then-PM Gough Whitlam pouring a handful of earth back into the hand of Aboriginal elder Vincent Lingiari.


The photograph symbolised the landmark legal transfer of Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory back to the Gurindji people. The moment it captures gave rise to the Paul Kelly hit ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow’.


Also included are images from Bishop’s successful tenure at the Sydney Morning Herald, where he became Australia’s first Aboriginal press photographer.


Featured among them is a dramatic photo of a panicked nurse rushing to seek treatment for an Aboriginal child – an image which won Bishop the Nikon Press Photographer of the Year Award in 1971.


Bishop said he was thrilled to have his work showcased in the Art Gallery of NSW touring exhibition.


“The show is a collection of my memories of meeting people – bringing together images from my personal archives alongside photographs I took on jobs,” he said.


“I have been taking pictures for some time and realising this exhibition is very much part of my life and my dreaming.”


MAC Director Debbie Abraham said Lake Macquarie was honoured to host the exhibition.

“These photos have been selected from an archive of more than 8000 images, most of which have never been seen before in public,” Ms Abraham said.


“They feature a fascinating insight into Uncle Mervyn’s life and work.”


Art Gallery of NSW Deputy Director Maud Page said the exhibition recognised Bishop’s contribution to art and photojournalism over more than 50 years.


“Mervyn’s photographs are compelling records of a time and place when no other Aboriginal

person was taking photographs in such volume and across such a range of subjects,” Ms Page said.

Bishop will attend the exhibition’s official opening on Friday night before hosting an Artist Talk and Q&A at MAC on Saturday from 2-4pm.


Tickets to the Saturday event are $10 and include drinks and afternoon tea. They are available at eventbrite.com.au.


Mervyn Bishop is shown as a part of MAC’s yapang program in consultation with the Aboriginal Reference Group.



An Art Gallery of New South Wales touring exhibition