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The Australian National University

Helen Ennis FAHA

Director, Centre for Art History and Art Theory
Location: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
Phone: +61 (2) 6125 5839

Personal Website

ANU Researchers Profile

Professor Helen Ennis FAHA specialises in Australian photographic history and is concerned with finding new ways of thinking, curating and writing about photographs. She specialises in Australian photographic history and is concerned with finding new ways of thinking, curating and writing about photographs. As an independent curator and writer she works closely with national cultural institutions. Major research projects include In a New Light: Photography and Australia 1850s-2000 (2003-04), Margaret Michaelis: Love, Loss and Photography (2005) and Reveries: Photography and Mortality (2007). Her book Photography and Australia was published by Reaktion, London in 2007 and Wolfgang Sievers was published in 2011. Helen recently curated Things: Photographing the constructed world for the National Library. She is currently writing a biography on Australian photographer Olive Cotton, supported by the Peter Blazey Fellowship and funding from the Australia Council Literature Board. In 2013 Helen was awarded the inaugural Australian Book Review George Hicks Foundation Fellowship. Helen also researches in the areas of biography, death studies, museology and curatorship.



Exhibitions curated

2012 Things: Photographing the constructed world, National Library Australia

2008 A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer, 1850-1897, National Library of Australia

2006 Reveries: Photography & Mortality, National Portrait Gallery (opened 2007) Touring Queensland University Art Museum and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2007-08)

2005 Margaret Michaelis: love, loss and photography, National Gallery of Australia

2004 In a new light: Australian Photography 1930s-2000, National Library of Australia

2003 In a new light: Australian Photography 1850s-1930s, National Library of Australia

2000 Mirror with a memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia, National Portrait Gallery

Olive Cotton, Art Gallery of New South Wales


1982   B.A. Hons (Visual Arts), Monash University, Melbourne


Books and exhibition catalogues

Wolfgang Sievers, National Library of Australia, Canberra 2011

Frank Hurley’s Antarctica, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2010

A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer, 1850-1897, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2008

Reveries: Photography and Mortality, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2007

Photography and Australia, Reaktion Books, London, 2007

Margaret Michaelis: love, loss and photography, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2005

Intersections: Photography, history and the National Library of Australia, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2004

In a new light: Australian Photography 1850s-1930s, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2003

Man with a camera: Frank Hurley overseas, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2002

Olive Cotton, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000

Helen Ennis, Mirror with a memory: Photographic portraiture in Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2000 (with essay by Geoffrey Batchen)

The reflecting eye: Portraits of Australian Visual Artists, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 1996

Olive Cotton: Photographer, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1995 (reprinted 2004, 2006)

'Past/Present' Sue Ford. A Survey. 1960-1995, Monash University Gallery, Melbourne, 1995

Harold Cazneaux: The Quiet Observer, National Library of Australia, 1994 (reprinted 1997, 2004)

Helen Ennis and Bob Jenyns, Living in the 70s: Photographs by Carol Jerrems, University of Tasmania, Hobart, 1991

Max Dupain Photographs, Australian National Gallery, 1991

The Life and Work of Wolfgang Sievers, National Gallery, Canberra, 1991

Helen Ennis with assistance from Kate Davidson and Kylie Scroope, Photography: 150 Years, Australian National Gallery and ASM Group, Canberra, 1989

Helen Ennis and Isobel Crombie, Australian Photographs in the Australian National Gallery Collection. Canberra: Australian National Gallery, 1988

Helen Ennis with assistance from Kate Davidson, Australian Photography: The 1980s, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988

Book chapters and major essays

‘Aids to survival’ in Lee Kinsella, ed., Miriam Stannage: Time Framed, UWA Publishing, Perth, 2017

‘Unsettling: the photographic work of Sue Ford and Anne Ferran’ in Marsha Meskimmon and Marion Arnold, eds., Home/Land, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2017

‘White Goods: Dark Knowing’ in Hannah Mathews, ed., Derek Kreckler: Accident and Process, Perimeter Editions, Melbourne, 2016

‘Death and digital photography’ in Cultural Studies Review, vol.17, no.1, March, 2011

‘Other histories: photography and Australia’, Journal of Art Historiography, guest editor Jaynie Anderson, no.4, June 2011

‘Olive Cotton and Sea’s awakening’, Journal of Australian Studies, vol.35, no. 4, December, 2011, pp.433-449

‘Photography and the Ballets Russes: An Australian Perspective’ in Mark Carroll, (ed.), The Ballets Russes in Australia and Beyond. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2011, pp.105-111

‘Sue Ford’s History’, Art Journal of the National Gallery of Victoria, no.50, 2011, pp.89-98

‘Photography and Australia’, Grove Art Online, 2009

‘The art of dying’ in T Chandler Halliburton and Caroline Edwards (eds.), Making Sense of: Dying and death’, 2008

‘Portraiture in extremis’ in Daniel Palmer (ed.), Photogenic: Essays/Photography/CCP 2000-2004. Melbourne: Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2005, pp.23-40

‘Seeing and not knowing’, Meanjin on PNG, no.3, 2003, pp.19-29

‘A National Photographic Collection’ in Peter Cochrane (ed.), Remarkable Occurrences. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2002, pp.199-213

‘Postwar Australian Landscape Photography’, History of Photography, vol.23, no.2, 1999, pp.136-141
Guest editor Art Monthly. Photography now, October, no.124, including an article ‘The promised land? Photography and the market’, 1999, pp.11-14

‘Painted pictures’ in Blair French (ed.), Photo-Files, Power Publications and Australian Centre for Photography, 1999, Sydney, pp.29-39 (first published Photofile, Autumn 1987)

‘Margaret Michaelis in context’ in Juan Jose Lahuerta and Jordana Mendelson, Margaret Michaleis. Fotografia, Vanguardia I Politica a la Barcelona de la Republica. Valencia: IVAM Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, 1998, pp.10-18

‘Blue hydrangeas: Four émigré photographers’ in Roger Butler (ed.), The Europeans. Émigré Artists in Australia 1930-1960National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1997, pp.102-119

‘Don’t look back: Helmut Newton’s Australian years’ Photofile, no.52, December, 1997, pp.10-15

‘The rise and rise of documentary photography?’ in Leica Documentary Photography Exhibition and Award, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 1997

‘Subject to change’ in Anne Bamford (ed.), Viewpoints. Visual arts case
studies. Heinemann, 1997, pp.103-115

‘Partnerships’, Photofile, no.53, April, 1997, pp.24-28

'Pictograms: Aspects of Contemporary Photographic Practice', Australian Exhibitions Touring Agency, 1994

‘An optic parable: Surrealism and Photography’ in Michael Lloyd (ed.) Surrealism: Revolution by Night, National Gallery of Australia, 1993, pp.156-170

 ‘Sacred fire’ in Geoffrey Burke and Peter Weiermair, (eds.), Second Nature. Peter Peryer, Photographer, New Zealand. Edition Stemmle, Zurich, and Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand, 1994

‘Photography and public life’ in Juliana Engberg (ed.), Location. Contemporary photo based work from Australia, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 1992, pp.35-42

‘Analogues’ and ‘1992’, Graeme Hare, Graeme Hare, Melbourne, 1992

‘The end of nature’, 42' South, Chameleon Contemporary Art Space, Hobart, 1992

‘Searching for Geoffrey Powell’ in Stuart Koop, (ed.), Shot, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne

‘To Canada’ in Karen Love, Aurora Australis, Presentation House, North Vancouver, 1990, pp.7-14 

‘Homage to Sight: the photographs of Miriam Stannage’ in Seva Frangos and Margaret Moore, Miriam Stannage. Perception 1969-1989, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1990 pp.17-19

‘Photography: New Directions’ in Joyce Agee, The Thousand Mile Stare, Victorian Centre for Photography, Melbourne, 1988, pp.95-100

'Contemporary Photographic Practices' in Gael Newton, Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988, Collins Australia and Australian National Gallery, Sydney, pp.134-161, 1988

‘Painted photographs’, Photofile, vol.4, no.4, Autumn, 1987, pp.11-14

‘1970s Australian Photographic Practice: A Homogenous View?’, Photofile, vol.4, no.1,  Autumn, 1986, pp.12-15

‘Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Photography and Film in Weimar Germany’, Photofile, vol.4, no.2, Spring, 1986, pp.30-32

‘The 1970s and Now’, Afterimage (USA), vol.14, no.2, September, 1986, pp.7-8

Articles (selected)

‘Photography and Mourning’, History of Photography, 2012

‘Lasting Impressions: European views of Central Australia. Images of the interior: seven central Australian Photographers by Philip Jones’, ABR, November 2011, pp.46-47

‘Sue Ford: faces are maps’ in Shaune Lakin, Sue Ford: Self-Portrait with Camera (1960-2006), Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, 2011

Introduction, The Mourners: Georgia Metaxas, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2011

‘Look: Contemporary Australian Photography since 1980’, ABR, June 2011, pp. 43-44

‘Sievers: Images of Australian Industry’, The National Library Magazine, September 2011, pp.21-23

‘Ward 3 E’ in Natalie King (ed.), Up Close: Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang. Melbourne: Black Inc., 2010

‘Sue Ford 1943-2009’, Art Monthly Australia, no. 227, March 2010, pp.27-28

‘A pioneer of polar photography: Frank Hurley’, National Library Magazine, September, 2010

‘Decisive moments. Peter Galassi: Henri Cartier-Bresson’, ABR, no.326, November 2010, p.10

‘Edward Burtynsky’s minescapes: an Australian perspective’ in Edward Burtynsky: Australian Minescapes, Western Australian Museum, Perth, 2009

Entries on Wolfgang Sievers and Sue Ford, Grove Art Dictionary Online, 2009

Entries on Max Dupain, Peter Peryer and Piet Zwart in William McAloon, (ed.), Art at Te Papa. Wellington: Te Papa Tongarewa, 2009, pp.198, 202, 330, 352, 400

‘Tom Normand Scottish Photography: A History. Luath Press, 2007’, History of Photography, vol.33, no.4, November, 2009, pp.407-08

‘Timeliness: Photographs by Christine Godden’, Christine Godden, 2009

‘Now and Then’, Art World, Issue 6, December 2008/January 2009,pp.7-11

‘Steam and sunshine’, entry in Natasha Bullock, (ed.),  Harold Cazneaux: Artist in Photography. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2008

Entry on Margaret Michaelis, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2008

Intimate Encounters: Christl Berg, Launceston: Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery, 2007

‘Reveries: Photography & Mortality’, Portrait 23, Autumn 2007, pp.4-9

‘On Death’, Photofile, no.80, Autumn 2007

‘Pat Brassington’, Photofile, no. 79, Summer 2007, p.78

‘Perception: The Daryl Hewson Photographic Collection’, Photofile, no.76, Summer 2006, p.78

‘Jacky Redgate 1980-2003’, Photofile, no.78, Spring 2006, p.78

‘Jane Lydon: Eye Contact’, Australian Book Review, no.283, August 2006, p.54

‘Bill Culbert: Light wine things’, Art Monthly Australia, no.190, June 2006, pp.39-40

‘Margaret Michaelis: love, loss and photography’, artonview, no. 42, Winter 2005, pp.28-34

‘The outsider. 1904: Korea through Australian eyes’, Australian Book Review, no. 272, June-July 2005, p.50

‘Made in Australia: Contemporary Documentary Photography’, National Library News,, December 2004, pp.7-11

‘This picture speaks for itself: Photography and the First World War’, National Library News, July 2004, pp.13-17

‘Narratives of war’, ozhistorybytes (ed. Peter Cochrane), 2004

‘Unhurried: Tribute to Olive Cotton’, Australian Art Monthly, no.167, 1, March 2004

‘Seeing and not knowing’, Muse, May 2003

‘National news’, Australian Book Review, no.256, November, 2003

Olive Cotton obituary, Photofile, no.70, 2003
‘In a New Light’, National Library News, November, 2003, pp.3-7

‘Gentle Men’, Art Monthly, May 2002, no.149, pp.20-22

Entries on Harold Cazneaux, Olive Cotton and Margaret Michaelis, Australian Art in the National Gallery of Australia. Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2002

‘The pleasures of the past’, Photofile, Autumn, 2001

‘Drawing with light: The photography of Olive Cotton’, National Library News, August 2000, pp.11-15

‘The future of history’ in Robert Imhoff (ed.), The Fuji ACMP Australian Photographers Collection, 6, ACMP, 2000


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