The Joyce Evans Collection of Australian & International Photography

Joyce Evans OAM (1929 - 2019), a beacon of inspiration born in Elsternwick, Melbourne, transcended photography, embodying roles as an art historian, gallery director, curator, collector, and lecturer.

Above: Portrait of Joyce Evans courtesy of Ellie Young

Her legacy, celebrated as the ‘doyenne of Australian photography’, earned her the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019 for her profound impact on the photographic arts. Today, her work graces international venues such as the Musée de la Photographie in Mougins, France, and local state and regional galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia, which is actively acquiring her eminent works.

Through various mediums including portraiture, landscapes, and documentary photography, Joyce Evans held a steadfast commitment to capturing the profound essence of her subjects, revealing overlooked spiritual and psychological dimensions. Her perspective, “Aesthetically, I enjoy the camera’s capacity to record relationships and detail which my subconscious may perceive, but may not fully see”, underscores her approach.

Evans’ artistic foundation took root at the Bakery Art School in Sydney (1967-1968), where she embraced painting under the guidance of Australian luminary John Olsen. This experience imprinted the concept of the ‘edge of an image’ upon her artistic philosophy, a realm that resonates deeply yet remains unseen. Her revelation of photography’s artistic essence occurred at the Basel Art Fair in the mid-1970s, where she encountered the medium’s transformative power.

Returning to Melbourne, Evans established the Church Street Photographic Centre (1976-1981), a pioneering gallery that introduced significant Australian and international photographers to local audiences. Her legacy extended beyond curation, as she delved into both collecting and photography. After the gallery’s closure, she wholeheartedly embraced these roles, producing compelling works that explored themes ranging from the edge of the road, road kills and fatalities, and the landscape; to character studies of prominent art world Australian figures like Germaine Greer, Marianne Baillieu; Barbara Blackman and Lin Onus. Evans’ influence radiated through teaching at RMIT University, her role as assistant director of Waverley City Gallery (Now Monash Gallery of Art), and the establishment of a History of Photography course at the University of Melbourne. Her dedication extended to over a decade of honorary photography work for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Central Australia.

The Collection

This curated selection from the Joyce Evans Collection of Australian & International Photography weaves together the works of esteemed photographers, painting a vibrant portrait of Australian history through various creative lenses. Spanning between the 19th century to the 1980s including important photographers Bill Henson, Athol Shmith, Mark Strizic, Jan Saudek, Wolfgang Sievers, Machiel Botman and Lee Friedlander. These works stand as a testament to Evans’ perceptive eye and are celebrated in museum exhibitions and public collections nationwide.

Gibson’s is honoured to represent Joyce and her esteemed photographic collection in our upcoming Prints & Multiples sale (lots 74-161).

View the online catalogue.

Featured image (detail): Lot 125 | MARK STRIZIC, (1928-2012) Off Francis Street, Richmond, 1971