Pop-up Burnie Intersection Art Space Gallery hosts Living Memory National Portrait Photography Award

A national traveling exhibit has opened in Burnie despite the city’s art gallery closing last year.

Left without a space for the National Portrait Gallery’s Living Memory National Photographic Portrait Award exhibition, the community got into gear to ensure the Tasmanian regional town wouldn’t miss a thing.

A collaboration between festival organizers Ten Days on the Island, Burnie City Council, Business Northwest and Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) resulted in the show opening on Thursday evening.

The space known locally as the empty Dick Smith Electronics Store is now home to Intersection Art Space, which will host two locally curated exhibitions following the National Photographic Portrait Prize’s move to Brisbane in Queensland.

Lindy Hume, artistic director of Ten Days on the Island, with Louise Cummins of the National Portrait Gallery.(ABC News Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

“It’s unusual for us to be involved in shows between festivals, but it filled a need in our community,” said Lindy Hume, artistic director of Ten Days on the Island.

“[There was] a need, we thought, to show different ways of presenting work and a need to showcase the ingenuity of our artistic community.

Photographic image from an exhibit in which a bold young woman stands atop a huge tree stump in a forest clearing.
Matthew Newton’s striking image titled Anna.(Provided: Matthew Newton, National Portrait Gallery)

“But that came with a wonderful opportunity to host an exclusive show. It really was kind of the perfect storm.”

Covering images produced in 2020 and 2021, the Living Memory National Photographic Portrait Award contains works that depict Australia in troubled times.

Fine art photography of farmer walking towards red dust storm on drought parched land
Joel B Pratley’s emotional Drought Story has won the 2021 Living Memory National Photographic Portrait Award.(Provided: Joel B Pratley, National Portrait Gallery)

Drought, bushfires, COVID isolation, confusion, conflict and tragedy are recurring themes and reflect familiar emotions for most Australians in recent years.

Monochrome fine art photography of a boy swimming in a storm drain, resting while holding on to the drain pipe.
Tom at the Drain was highly praised.(Provided: Julian Kingma, National Portrait Gallery)

Joel B Pratley’s winning entry captures a farmer stoically walking away from the camera towards an approaching dust storm.

Two Tasmanian entries are also part of the show, one of which is a striking portrait of Aboriginal activist Emma Lee with a wallaby skin cape flying behind her like a cape.

Matthew Newton’s Anna captures another strong woman in her element, a frontline forestry activist atop a century-old tree stump in a southern logging.

“The reason she is standing on that stump is that the tree was too big to transport so it was left on the ground to be burned,” Mr Newton said.

“It’s hard to understand why they would bother to cut it in the first place, really.”

NPG Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator Louise Cummins said the Canberra-based organization was delighted with the gallery space created for the exhibition.

“It’s the very first leg of the national tour and we’re thrilled to bring it to Burnie,” Ms Cummins said.

People at work preparing an exhibition in a new gallery space
A collaborative effort among art lovers led to the transformation of a retail space allowing Burnie to host the National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.(ABC News Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

“We always want to support communities that are doing interesting things within their artistic community.

Art photography of a woman surrounded by many trinkets in her own home
I’m Just a Suburban Fashionista won Art Handlers’ and People’s Choice awards.(Provided: Kristina Kraskov, National Portrait Gallery)

The Living Memory National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition will be held at Intersection Art Space, 4/22 Wilmot St, Burnie from March 4-27.

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