Ponch Hawkes: works form the MGA Collection

Ponch Hawkes took up photography in 1972 while working as a journalist for the counter-cultural magazines Digger and Rolling Stone. In this regard, her approach to photography was from the start informed by a broader interest in consciousness-raising. This is evident in the way she explores specific social contexts over a series of images, and frames her subjects within those contexts.

Art Exhibition previously on at Monash Gallery of Art in Victoria, Australia.
From Tuesday 13 August 2013 to Sunday 29 September 2013

Ponch Hawkes: works form the MGA Collection image

Published by Monash Gallery of Art on Wednesday 14 August 2013.
Contact the publisher.

Hawkes’s best-known series Our mums and us documents a selection of Hawkes’s female contemporaries standing with their mothers. The subjects have each been photographed at their family home during the mid-seventies. The photographs record generational shifts in personal style and domestic decor. This series was originally shown at Brummels Gallery of Photography in 1976, which was Hawkes’s first solo exhibition.

The use of pronouns in the title suggests that Our mums and us was made by women, of women and for women; it is a defiant and celebratory feminist gesture, which foregrounds women as at once independent and connected to each other. Reflecting on the series, Hawkes explains that ‘feminism helped me to understand that my mother was actually a woman too, and not just a mother, and Our mums and us came out of that realisation.’

These women have just run twenty-six miles is a series of photographs taken by Hawkes at the finishing line of the 1982 Big M Marathon in Melbourne. The subjects of these portraits have just been sponged down after completing a 42.2 kilometre run. This series was originally published in the feminist art magazine LIP and included in the exhibition Eight women photographers, curated by Jenepher Duncan at Monash University in 1982.

The series reflects Hawkes’s long-standing interest in critiquing sexism in sport and celebrating women’s physicality. In an artist’s statement from 1982, Hawkes explains that ‘until the early 1970s women had not been allowed to participate in long-distance running. Now women of all ages are running in the previously male-dominated marathon and catching up to men’s times.’

This exhibition of Ponch Hawkes’s early-career work acknowledges the generosity of Ian Bracegirdle, who recently donated vintage prints of Our mums and us to the Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection.