People are everywhere (part one)

an exhibition by Therese Ritchie and Chips Mackinolty 2005


Our personal and professional lives and collaborations have crossed and re-crossed each other for over 20 years—and this is our fourth exhibition together in the last eight years. As with the two previous shows, the way we have done things is a little odd. Once we have decided what we want out of a show, we don’t get to see each other’s work until the last minute—in some cases until the final hanging. That’s pretty much the case this time around, as well. It has made for some surprises for both of us.

The idea of doing a portrait show has been creeping up on us for a few years. Images of people—real and imagined—have been at the heart of much of our work over the last decade and beyond. But these have generally been part of a broader polemic; as part of making statements about where we live—the Northern Territory.

The need for that kind of polemic has not gone away—there is no way the deeply entrenched attitudes that have so disfigured Territory society for so long will not disappear overnight. The Territory is still at the edge of the frontier—indeed various frontiers—of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, and will always be a testing ground for justice at a national and international level.

This exhibition has been hugely satisfying for us, and we hope, will be for our 60-odd subjects, their families and their friends, and for those who visit this exhibition. There is a curious intimacy in creating portraits, at times bordering on the sensual; at times the visceral. How else can we variously describe the experiences of people who might be on a kidney dialysis machine, or playing Netball for a Territory representative side? Or life on a town camp, or a day at the races?

Through these images we celebrate the lives of friends and family. We have not worked with “ordinary people”—in the pejorative sense of the common or mundane—but friends and family that we love and honour, and who we find extraordinary.