Housing a permanent collection, Reflecting Canberra, and a variety of local, national and international exhibitions, CMAG provides a refreshing insight to the integration of social history and the visual arts.
5 July - 21 September 2008
Marcia Lochhead’s photographs of Canberra region swimming pools have a documentary component but are also highly evocative poetic encapsulations of an aspect of Australian national identity: sporting prowess in the water. Lochhead is herself a swimmer and has an affinity for the environment of the public pool,
its reflective surfaces and working components.
The artist is a graduate from the ANU School
of Art Photomedia Workshop, with a Masters degree from the Glasgow School of Art in 1996. She has worked professionally in the field of photography since 1994, including lecturing, curating exhibitions and record photography. Lochhead’s work has been shown in a number
of group exhibitions in Canberra, Hobart, Alice Springs, Glasgow and Salem, Virginia, in the United States. Her solo exhibitions include Mirror – the pool series – seen in 2004 at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne.
Although Lochhead’s pools are all photographed empty, they are not symbols of some vast suburban wasteland, indeed many bear the signs of daily use. Swimming pools in Australia are part and parcel of our national experience, and are by and large perceived as a democratic right. Some have been the sites of significant battles, infamously the Moree pool in 1965, when an attempt by the Freedom Ride defenders of Aboriginal rights to reverse the
ban on Aboriginal people using the pool led to
a melee. In 1994 there was a hue and cry when Melbourne city bean-counters decided to close the Fitzroy Baths, and the empty pool was occupied by thousands of local citizens, leading to a backdown by the Kennett government.
Last year nearly a million dollars was raised for the Charles Perkins Foundation through an auction of Aboriginal art to build pools in two remote Aboriginal communities, a move that is understood will improve the health and wellbeing of children in those townships. Pools are at the heart of our national psyche, both
our smug sense of athletic superiority and our strong sense of decency and democratic spirit: neither of which is without contention.
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