Carol Jerrems - Photographic Artist
This catalogue presents vintage and non-vintage prints and letters
by Carol Jerrems, Australia's outstanding photographic artist
of the counter-culture era of the 1960s-1970s. All the work carries
the special provenance of coming from her close friends and associates.
In particular, the catalogue includes a substantial archive of
vintage prints from the estate of the filmmaker Esben Storm (1950-2011),
Jerrems' former boyfriend. This archive originates from the collaboration
between Storm and Jerrems, who was the stills photographer on
Storm's innovative 1978 feature In Search of Anna, which has
a respected place in the development of Australia's distinctive
contemporary style of cinema.
Growing up in the sixties,
it was impossible not to be visually drenched in the surreal
pop photography featured in British and American rock magazines,
album covers, music clips on TV and, for the more adventurous,
the offbeat 'new wave' European films and edgy American personal-documentary
style photography shows by the likes of Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander.
So it is not surprising that Carol Jerrems, a suburban Melbourne
high school graduate with an interest in art and music, chose
to enrol in the new photographic art and experimental film courses
at Prahran Technical School from 1967 to 1970.
Jerrems put her camera
where the counter culture focussed: women's liberation, and social
inclusiveness for the disadvantaged street youths and urban Aboriginal
communities, who were campaigning for justice and land rights.
Her final year assignment was a booklet on the 'tribal rock musical'
Hair, first performed in Australia at the Metro, Kings Cross,
which she travelled to Sydney to photograph in January 1970.
At Prahran, Jerrems' teachers
included soulful European filmmaker Paul Cox, who wanted psychological
depth not commercial, slick, studio photography, and who was
the first to recognise her talent. While still a student, Jerrems
generated a remarkable body of work and designed her own photographic
stamp: 'Carol Jerrems, Photographic Artist.' Jerrems began exhibiting
in 1970 and by 1976 had had several group and solo shows, awards,
a newspaper profile, and works acquired by the National Gallery
of Victoria and National Gallery of Australia.
Jerrems was not a roving
street photographer capturing a passing parade. She mostly photographed
people in their environment, often close up and in spontaneous-looking
situations but with subjects clearly performing for her camera.
Many of her subjects were known to her, or she entered their
worlds by crossing social barriers that would have intimidated
most middleclass girls of her day.
She also orchestrated
scenarios, as in her now iconic Vale Street (1975), for which
she directed the three models-an acquaintance who was an aspiring
actress and two male teenage Sharpie gang lads whom she taught
at Heidelberg Tech.
In 1972 leading American
curator John Szarkowski said of Diane Arbus: "She stuck
with her subjects, exploring their secrets (and thus her own)
more and more deeply. She was surely aware of the danger of this
path, but she believed that her bravery would be equal to the
demands she made of it." The words apply equally to her
Antipodean fan. Arbus made old-fashioned medium format pictures
of often-remarkable looking people. Jerrems had a televisual
and cinematic dynamic to her work.