This November, photographer and historian, John Williams will exhibit a photographic retrospect in Melbourne. William’s exhibition spans over half a century of street photography from both Australia and abroad, with the earliest photograph in the exhibition taken in 1952.
William’s earliest work was captured in square format on a Rolleicord TLR. “When my now battered twin-lens Rollei finally gave up the ghost, I took the hint and shifted to 35mm,” says Williams. “Over the next 30 years, I pursued my indecisive moments with Pentaxes, Olympuses and Leicas.”
Inspired by his wife, Ingeborg Tyssen’s, Williams’ choice of camera after her death took another visual shift as he picked up a panoramic camera. This is the first exhibition of William’s work in Melbourne since his retrospective at the NGV in 1991. “Treat these as an old man’s cry of alarm and sigh of resignation. Enough to say that I’m not finished yet with either the streets or the anti-landscapes to which they led me.”
Born in Sydney in 1933, Williams worked as an engineer until he saw the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s Family of Man exhibition In Sydney in 1959. Since 1965, he has travelled and studied widely in Europe, photographing prolifically there. In 1974 he began a full time professional career as a photographer.
Co-founder of South Yarra’s highly regarded Photographers Gallery during the mid 1970’s, his major exhibitions include: John Williams. Sydney Diary 1958-2003. Musuem of Sydney (2004); Twenty Years on the Street: John Williams photographs, 1958-78, Byron-Mapp, Sydney (1997); and John Williams Photographs, (retrospective), National Gallery of Victoria (1991) & Art Gallery of New South Wales (1989).
His work can be found in most of Australia’s prominent galleries, as well as George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY, USA; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; and Historial de la Grande Guerre, Peronne. Williams holds a PhD Modern History, Macquarie University; MA Visual Arts, Sydney College of the Arts; and BSc Tech (Mechanical Engineering) University of NSW.
Taking a Camera for a Walk, My first 60 years on the Streets
CF GALLERY, 409-429 Gore Street, Fitzroy
Exhibition: 5 – 28 November 2015
Image: John Williams, Sydney Underground, 1978