Images from Adland

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Published:  January 19, 2011
Alison Copley
Images from Adland

An interesting venture from The Communications Council and Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), Images from Adland is an exhibition showcasing the range and diversity of commercial photography in Australia. It grew from the simple idea of celebrating the artistic value of commercial photography… just because a job is commissioned, it doesn’t mean it’s without artistic value.

I caught up with Daniel Leesong, CEO of The Communications Council and Alasdair Foster, director of ACP to find out what makes this exhibition different.

Images courtesy The Communications Council.

Andreas Smetana, Battleship Defence Force Recruiting Navy, 2010, George Patterson Y&R

Please can you tell us about the ‘Images from Adland’ exhibition?
Daniel Leesong: ‘Images from Adland’ is an exhibition showcasing some of the best contemporary advertising photography created in Australia. It is presented through a partnership between the ACP (the national peak body for contemporary photomedia art) and the Communications Council of Australia (the peak professional body for Australian advertising).

Where did the concept for ‘Images from Adland’ come from?
Alasdair Foster: The idea arose from discussions ACP was having with the Communications Council about ways to recognise the artistic value of commercial creativity. By presenting in the gallery images that might ordinarily be seen in magazine or on a billboard one can better appreciate the conceptual and aesthetic qualities of the works. Just because an image was commissioned to do a job does not mean it is without artistic value. After all, by today’s standards, most of the Renaissance painters were engaged in a form of advertising: their paintings promoted the church or the powers that be. As Peter Ustinov once said: “If Botticelli were alive today he’d be working for Vogue”.

What was the main motivator for running an exhibition of this nature? (i.e. solely restricted to commercial photography)
Alasdair: We have on many previous occasions included photographs made by practitioners who also work commercially. A number of the commercial photographers in ‘Images from Adland’ also have an art practice. The reason we wanted to specifically focus on commercial imagery in this exhibition was to offer a new context in which to consider the images created for advertising as aesthetically valuable things in their own right. In the gallery the viewer tends to slow down and look with more considered care.

Lisa Saad Archangel Chamuel

Lisa Saad, Archangel Chamuel, 2008-9, Paste & Lisa Saad Paste Agency

What was the section process for included images?
Alasdair: Submissions were invited from commercial photographers and their agents, and the exhibition was then curated by ACP staff. So, this was not a competition but the more considered development of an exhibition as a whole. The aim was to suggest the contemporary ‘zeitgeist’ of Australian commercial visual communications.

Which images are you particularly proud of including in the exhibition and why?

Alasdair: The exhibition works as a whole and I would not want to single out any one image above the others. The pleasure and interest come from the totality. However, I was interested and heartened by the fact that so many of the images showing particular creative imagination were promoting charities or communicating public service messages.

Are there some big names that we can look forward to?
Alasdair: The images are what matters. If you enjoy an image and it speaks to you, then for you the name of the photographer becomes significant too. It is important to have faith in one’s own visual instincts and not simply flock to the things other people have defined as ‘famous’.

Jeremy Park, Ice Addict, 2007-8, Department of Health, The Campaign Palace

Jeremy Park, Ice Addict, 2007-8, Department of Health, The Campaign Palace

Were there any particular images that you had to leave out?
Alasdair: It is always hard to ‘draw the line’ between those images that are in a show and those that don’t quite make it. I am sure other curatorial teams would have selected a different mix of photographs. There is no definitive right and wrong. That’s why it is important to see the show as a whole rather than simply as the sum of its parts. As a whole one gets a flavour of the times. You can see the bigger picture.

How does the exhibition tie into ‘Circus – The Festival of Commercial Creativity’?
Daniel: ‘Images from Adland’ is the curtain-raiser for ‘Circus’, an intensive four-day festival showcasing creative excellence, business innovation and imagination. The Festival brings together some of the most engaging and influential experts in the world of commercial creativity.

Both the exhibition and Circus illustrate the value of commercial creativity, one through images, the other through interaction and discussion.

Alexia Sinclair

Alexia Sinclair, Macbeth, 2009, New Zealand Opera Ocean Design

Images from Adland runs from 4 February 2011 – 12 March 2011 at ACP’s headquarters in Paddington, and is the curtain-raiser to Circus, a four-day festival of commercial creativity to be held at CarriageWorks in Eveleigh.

For more information go to acp.org.au or afa.org.au.

Thumbnail caption: Toby Burrows, Eau de Toilette, 2009, Sara Lee, Ambi Pur Jay Grey. All images courtesy The Communications Council.

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