Creativity and community come into focus at PhotoAccess | HerCanberra

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Creativity and community come into focus at PhotoAccess

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Whether you’re an aspiring artist or a photography pro, there’s always more to learn.

Tucked away beside the Manuka Pool, you’ll find a Canberra’s only publicly-accessible photographic black and white darkroom. It’s part of PhotoAccess at the Manuka Arts Centre, a member-based visual arts organisation that offers everything from exhibitions to classes, facilities, talks and publications.

Local photographer Hilary Wardhaugh has been a member of PhotoAccess since 1982.

Hilary Wardhaugh

“It’s such an amazing organisation and it has a wonderful community,” she says.

“In the days of film photography I’d go in there and process my film, so I think it’s really important to have an accessible venue like this.”

Hilary will be the mentor of the upcoming Personal Photography Project at PhotoAccess, which gathers a group of photographers to work together over an eleven-month period.

“It’s basically just to encourage a group of people to explore their own concept and then have an exhibition at the end of it.

“I guide them in the direction they want to explore to get a body of work together to exhibit, and then I help them with the curation of their images and how to market the exhibition and stuff like that.”

For those looking for a little less commitment, Melissa Howe will be tutoring a Photo Zines workshop over two consecutive Saturdays in September. Reaching peak popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s, zines are small-circulation, self-published printed works that are usually just collaged together and photocopied by hand.

Melissa Howe

Melissa has long been fascinated by printed photography and will share tips and tricks throughout the process of making a zine.

“I’ve been a big collector of photo books and photo zines for quite a few years now,” she says. “I find zines a very intriguing vehicle for photography. The fact that it is a self-published, printed object, but kind of a more accessible and fun way to present and share that work.”

Despite, or perhaps because of, the constant advances in digital technology and the rise of social media, zines are making a comeback as a way to document thoughts, feelings and experiences in a more authentic format.

“People don’t really print their images anymore, so it’s kind of nice to have a tactile, printed object as a vehicle for photographic work. It’s about creating something tangible rather than something which only exists online or on your hard drive.”

The team at PhotoAccess hope to offer useful skills but also a place to learn from and support other local creatives.

“Photography is so accessible these days; anyone can be a photographer,” says Hilary. “If we as an organisation can help inspire other people to become visual artists or photographers I think that’s wonderful.”

The Photo Zine workshops and Personal Photography Project are part of an extensive program that also includes classes on basic digital and film photography skills, kids workshops and a masterclass with fashion and beauty photographer Lori Cicchini. Check it out here.

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