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by Caitlin Fricot
posted 02/09/2016

A Trip Down Memory Lane – Trent Mitchell’s ‘Australia. Seriously?’ Exhibition

There are some images that only an Australian can identify as normal. A giant pink cockatoo, a large white symbol of a kangaroo against a red background splashed across a plane, undies hanging on a clothesline, people hanging around a dingy old takeaway shop. Those are images that most Australians can relate.


Artist Trent Mitchell has taken that normality and turned it into a photography exhibition of nostalgia and love. I honestly found the exhibition to be really fun, a real trip down memory lane of my time chilling out at my families holiday home down the South Coast.

Trent described the exhibition as ‘colourful intersections of spaces, places and things that engage my curiosity in a playful act with my everyday Australia’. The show is a collection of over 5,500 film exposures created over time by Trent to display his interpretation of the worlds biggest island. Being that it was such a personal expression of his love of Australia, I really found it enjoyable and very relatable to see what Trent thinks his Australia looks like.


The way the photography is shot is very interesting. The light really ages the photographs and puts them in a different time. Alternatively, there is also a small collection of black and white photos that feel modernised, and I put that down to people using black and white as a ‘filter’ on social media. It’s almost like social media is even starting to influence things like art.

The subjects of the photographs are very central in the frame. There’s no abstract nature to the photos, they just very cool and laid back photos of everyday Aussies.

What I think is the most awesome aspect of the show is how relatable it is. Each photo can be related back to experience had during childhood or even now and brings a real sense of nostalgia. For example in one of the photos, there are babies splashing about it a small bathing pool having the time of their lives with their mums holding onto them from the sides. Reminds me strongly of a photo of my sister and I chilling in our backyard in a shell pool during the summer when it was boiling hot and the only comfort was our shell.


Other pictures such as the crazy surf at the beach, the sigh for the caravan park, the Christmas lights hanging off houses and the pool party with inflatable pool toys all remind me of my own personal experiences. It refreshing and fun to look at and left a big smile on my face.

I have to say, however, there was one room up back that I wasn’t too keen on. A photograph that displayed graffiti splashing out the gross saying ‘Straya C***’ shows the nasty side to Australian culture and something that makes me feel very uncomfortable. We are not a culture of uneducated people and this saying is one that I really don’t find appropriate. Unfortunately this photograph highlights that while we have such a rich and diverse culture, there is a side that isn’t quite so formidable and unfortunately we have to grin and bear it.


Besides that unusual addition to the show, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip down memory lane and encourage us all to take a visit to Juniper Hall and enjoy the works of the winner of the 2015 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize. The exhibition will run until September 17th.

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