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Historian to give first memorial lecture

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Photographic historian to give first memorial lecture

An esteemed Australian photographic historian, curator and writer will give the inaugural Peter Turner Memorial Lecture next month.

Wellington-born Helen Ennis (left) will give the 9 October lecture on The Importance of Photography. Her starting point will be some of the published works of photography-enthusiast Peter Turner, for whom the lecture is named.

The annual lecture has been established in the memory of the late author, editor, curator and former teacher at the Wellington School of Design, who died in 2005.

Ms Ennis is a senior lecturer in art theory at the School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra. She says Mr Turner was always engaged with photography. "He was an enthusiast, and mad about photography,” Ms Ennis says. “He was very determined to consider photography in a professional way but reach a broad audience.”

She says when she first started thinking about her lecture; she did not have to go far for inspiration. “I had three of Turner’s books on my own shelves, without even going to the library. He was a very important writer on photography of the 20th century.”

The lecture, at which 50 photographs will be shown, will also cover some of Ms Ennis’ thoughts on photography, including the potential for photographs to tell a story, and to be considered as more than just a two-dimensional object.

“It’s not just about a photo, a 2-D flat object, but about the size of the picture, the condition of it, whether is has writing on it, or has been filed in an album,” she says.

“My whole career has been based on the fact photography, more than anything else, is based in our own lives. I will be elaborating on that and trying to extend the way we might talk about and write about photos.”

Helen Ennis will present The Importance of Photography on 9 October at 6pm in the University’s Wellington campus Museum Building Tokomaru theatrette. All are welcome but please indicate attendance by emailing with "Helen Ennis" in the subject line.


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