This year the work of Ricky Maynard is commemorated in Portraits of a Distant Land, a retrospective of his photographic work to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (4 June - 23 August, 2009). A monograph has been published to accompany the exhibition. Maynard's work is significant within an Indigenous history of Australia as was well established in the Tasmanian episode of the recent TV series First Australians.
Maynard is a documentary photographer based on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait between North East Tasmania and the mainland of Australia. His extended family escaped extinction in Tasmania in the mid to late 1800's belying the widely held belief that all Tasmanian Aboriginals were killed. They did so by resettling on Cape Barren Island in the Bass Strait and subsequently moving to Flinders Island where there is currently a population of approximately 1000 people.
His chosen medium of documentary photography is significant and an appropriate tool, associated historically with telling stories of oppressed people. When Maynard learned his craft, working in the darkroom at AIATSIS in Canberra in the mid to late 80's, he saw the way Aboriginal people had been portrayed to date. He later studied at the International Centre of Photography in New York coming into contact with racism of a different nature in Spanish Harlem. He decided he wanted to present Indigenous people in a different light, feeling strongly that they should not see themselves as victims. He has been a passionate spokesperson for documentary photography. Throughout his work he addresses "issues of identity, site, place and nation".
Stills Gallery features portraits of Wik elders from Returning To Places That Name Us (shown at Stills Gallery in 2000) and Portraits of a Distant Land (2005-2009) Maynard's most recent and ongoing series. It documents the "physical and social landscape of his people through songlines, corner stones, petroglyphs, massacre sites, middens, meeting places, sacred sites and cultural practices, in a combination of visual diary and oral history." (Keith Munro, Culture Warriors catalogue). "This work has a very clear intent - of re-claiming our own" (Ricky Maynard).
Ricky Maynard's work has been seen widely internationally since 2007, with Ricky Maynard 1986-2007 at the Australian Embassy in Paris for the Musée du Quai Branly, and Portraits of a Distant Land touring to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand.
Stills Gallery Website