The Perth Centre for Photography in partnership with CAN, and the State Library of WA are proud to present a unique collection of Aboriginal photographs taken by one of Australia’s earliest photographers – the Mavis Phillips (nee Walley) Collection.
Mavis Phillips (nee Walley) is one of Australia’s earliest known Indigenous photographers. Through her box brownie camera Mavis captured the everyday moments of her community in Goomalling, Western Australia from the 1930s.
Her photographs capture joy, spontaneity, pride and hope from the thriving wheatbelt Aboriginal community. The photos are extremely rare in that they capture daily life from a Noongar perspective.
In 2015 Mavis’ daughter Dallas Phillips brought a collection of old negatives stored in a chocolate tin to a photo sharing session run by Community Arts Network. The photos were taken by her late mother and bequeathed to Dallas. She was unaware of their historical and cultural value until they were viewed by State Library staff. More than 360 of these images have now been digitised and stored on the State Library’s Storylines database.
Dallas Phillip’s always wanted to see her mother’s photos in a professional exhibition. Thanks to a partnership between the Perth Centre for Photography, Community Arts Network and the State Library of Western Australia, a selection of images, curated by Dallas Phillips herself, were featured at the Perth Centre for Photography, with satellite exhibits, projections and screenings around Perth, including a smaller selection in the Nook at the State Library.