The Local Gallery That's ‘Light Years’ Ahead

This month, Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney is illuminating some of the country’s most amazing photographic artists… as well as the very medium of lightbox photography itself!

We take a closer look at pioneering exhibition Light Years, on until May 29th.

Elle Murrell

Luke Shadbolt, Maelstrom 9, 2016-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Joseph McGlennon, Florilegium #10, 2016-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Joan Ross, Tag and Capture, 2013-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Fabian Muir, Blue Burqa #1, 2014-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Fabian Muir, Blue Burqa #1, 2014-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Dr. Christian Thompson AO, Enchantments – Letter to Ludwig Leichhardt, 2018-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Catherine Nelson, Mission I, 2014-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Marian Drew, Lorikeet with Green Cloth, 2006-2019, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox). Photo – Jodie Barker.

Elle Murrell
22nd of May 2019

What does the term ‘Light Years’ mean to you? For preeminent gallery director, Michael Reid OAM it conjures up ideas of ‘a long distance; a great improvement and speed’. He’s borrowed the term as the title of his Sydney gallery’s latest exhibition celebrating lightbox photography.

‘That long distance refers to just how far the technology has come; from the hot and inconsistent fluorescent tubes; from the heat damaged prints, and from the clumsy, heavy box,’ he describes, praising modern, slimline LED lightboxes for finally allowing this art-medium to stand beside large-scale photographic prints.

Seen as one of the great tech-adopters of the creative world, photographers have boldly taken up new innovations to capture, disseminate and display their work… since it all began back in 1826! ‘Light Years is attuned to this sensibility, whilst nodding also to the rapid acceleration of the market for contemporary photo-media over the last decade,’ explains Michael.

Over the last two centuries, ‘photography and the photographer have literally captured light!’ Michael adds. Zooming in, since 2007 (aka pre-iPhone), the international art market for contemporary photography has skyrocketed, and that at least 50% of all contemporary secondary market offerings are photo media.

Michael sees the lightbox as amplifying and projecting light back outwards to the viewer. ‘The surface of diffused light reaches out to draw people in – just as the golden glow of religious icons has done, for millennia. With Light Years, we stand mesmerised in front of the warm, comfortable light of the new.’

The current exhibition features iconic photography from the leading Australian photo-media artists including Fabian Muir, Joan Ross, Polixeni Papapetrou, Petrina Hicks, and Christian Thompson to name but a few. The colour and detail of their photographs are heightened in a way that needs to be seen to be believed. Furthermore, Michael hopes this exhibition ‘will provide an additional gravitational slingshot to further accelerate this prodigious growth and development’.

The gallery is a tech trailblazer in its own right too! They’ve also recently released a great free mobile application, designed so ‘collectors don’t have to fumble around looking up all their art photos in iPhoto, or some such,’ Michael tells. ‘This art viewing app, in its own way, illustrates our gallery’s commitment to service; our commitment to best practice; our commitment to developing both new and experienced collectors and to just being – quite frankly – helpful’. Simple and secure, try it here.

Light Years
Michael Reid Gallery Sydney
May 9th to May 29th
Mezzanine Level, 105 Kippax Street,
Surry Hills, New South Wales

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