Robert Walker (1922–2007)
Robert Walker was one of the principal photographers commissioned by NIDA to document plays and activities in the 1960s and 70s. He was also the main photographer of plays at the Jane Street Theatre (1966-1982) and Old Tote Theatre Company (1963-1978). Walker’s photographic archive relating to NIDA, Jane Street and the Old Tote Theatre, was recently donated to NIDA by his widow Louise Walker.
Robert Walker was born in Singleton, NSW but enlisted with the British Royal Air-force (RAF) during WWII. He returned to Australia in 1952 and first became interested in photography when working in advertising. According to Robert McFarlane (Sydney Morning Herald 19 March 2007), he taught himself how to use the office Rolle flex and was ‘immediately entranced’.
Robert honed the art of theatre photography for the modern age, moving beyond staged ‘set-up’ photographs to a fluid, photojournalistic visual approach, often choosing this more difficult technique to photograph during actual performances. In order to do this, Robert Walker mastered the photographic techniques necessary for working under the low, challenging lighting conditions frequently encountered in the theatre. Robert Walker's way of documenting theatre would deeply influence a generation of ‘performance’ photographers who would follow him, such as Robert McFarlane and Branco Gaica. It is a reflection of Robert Walker's invaluable contribution to Australian Theatre that over ninety productions are represented in the NIDA Archives.
Images from the Robert Walker Archive are held at the NIDA Archives and licensed by the Walker family to Viscopy. All images presented as part of the Jane Street online exhibition are courtesy of the Robert Walker Archive.
Branco Gaica (1979 Season, 1982 Season)
Branco Gaica is one of Australia’s foremost photographers of the performing arts. He was taught and inspired by Robert Walker's work in the theatre. As well as the Jane Street Season images taken between 1979 and 1982, Branco has photographed the Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Sydney Dance Company and The Australian Ballet amongst many other major companies. Branco photographed most of the NIDA productions, events and students between 1993 and 2005.
William Yang (Interplay, 1975)
William Yang was born in North Queensland, Australia. He moved to Sydney in 1969 and worked as a freelance photographer documenting Sydney’s social life which he has described as "including the glamorous, celebrity set and the hedonistic, sub-cultural, gay community".
In 1989 he integrated his skills as a writer and a visual artist. He began to perform monologues with slide projection in the theatre. These slide shows have become the main expression of his work. They tell personal stories and explore issues of identity. He has done eleven full-length works and most of them have toured the world. Tony Ayres made his most successful piece, “Sadness” into an award winning film in 1999.
William’s current work is photo based, doing performances in theatres and exhibitions in galleries, and story telling workshops. He has just converted three of his live performance pieces into films at the University of NSW.
Dennis Del Favero (The Provok’d Wife, 1982)
Dennis Del Favero is a Scientia Professor and research artist at the UNSW Faculties of Art & Design and Engineering.