Waves and Water | Head On Photo Festival

Waves and Water

Australian Beach Photography

Australian National Maritime Museum

Exhibition Dates:

15 December 2017 to 01 June 2018

Exhibition Description

The beach is dominant in Australia’s national lexicon. It is a physical and cultural landscape, and seen as a place for a shared, universal experience.

The work of nine important Australian photographers working over the course of the past one hundred years reveals differing perspectives of the Australian beach and the swimmers and surfers who populate it. 

The photographic lens has been a tool in constructing ideas about the beach, stretching back to late 19th century postcard images of an increasingly active pleasure ground. In these works the beach is shown in various guises, made up of moments, theatrical tableaux and sweeping coastal landscapes.

Pre-eminent in this imagery is the emblematic figure of Max Dupain’s Sunbaker which, with Anne Zahalka’s reworking of it, reveals a transforming and contested beach culture. 

Slicing through all this image-making is the work of Michael Cook who explores the beach as a site of encounter and appropriation of identity, of Australia’s first peoples.


Max Dupain, Sunbaker, 1939, ANMM Collection

Anne Zahalka, The Sunbather #2, 1989, ANMM Collection

Artist Bio

Included artists:
Max Dupain
Ray Leighton
Jeff Carter
Roger Scott
Ian Lever
Anne Zahalka
Narelle Autio
Harold Cazneaux
Michael Cook

Exhibition Space

Dates and Times

15 December 2017 to 01 June 2018

Open Hours

Opening Hours: 
Monday - Sunday:
9:30 am-5:00 pm

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