Anne Ferran

Name Anne Ferran
BA, Dip.Ed, BVA, Grad.Dip(VA), MFA
Current Role(s) Associate Professor


Related Links                                         Stills Gallery

                                                                Sutton Gallery


Anne Ferran came to prominence in Australian contemporary art in the 1980s with the well-known photographic series Carnal Knowledge and Scenes on the Death of Nature. Her early work, influenced by theories of femininity and representation, has been widely exhibited, collected and reproduced.

In 1995 she began working on aspects of Australia's colonial past, probing it for gaps and silences, especially around the lives of anonymous women and children. She has worked extensively with museum collections, photographic archives and historic sites in Australia and New Zealand, undertaking major projects with Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and the National Museum of Australia, where she was inaugural Artist-in-Residence in 2002.

In 1999 she was awarded a NSW Women and Arts Fellowship to work on a little-known archive of female patient photographs from the 1940s. The resulting photographs and artist books were exhibited in 2003 as INSULA and 1–38. In 2001 she began a long-term visual investigation of two former female convict prison sites in Tasmania. This work, which comprises photographs, videos and textiles, culminated in The ground, the air, a major solo exhibition held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in December 2008.

Ferran's work is held in most major Australian public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Monash University, Art Gallery of South Australia, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Internationally her work has been collected by museums in New Zealand, Japan and the United States, including the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York.


Anne Ferran works with the often-meagre residues of Australia's colonial past, paying particular attention to the lives of anonymous women and children. Among these works are a celebrated series of large-scale photograms of nineteenth century women's and children's clothing. The current shifting nature of photography makes it an ideal vehicle for her concerns.

"I might start with a museum collection or an archive or a site, but it's less the history I'm interested in than the historical record and how it comes down to us. Especially I'm drawn to the gaps, for what else they reveal."

Intellectually and emotionally engaging, sometimes austere, her photographs have explored histories of incarceration in prisons, asylums, hospitals and nurseries. They play with invisibility and anonymity, and are often haunted by things lost or unseen. Lost to Worlds 2008 was the culmination of more than a decade’s exploration of a piece of ground on the outskirts of the small village of Ross in central Tasmania. Today little remains of its past as a female convict prison. apart from some mounds of earth and scattered stones. Her photographs and video works about this site reflect the ongoing difficulty of grasping and making sense of a ruined and fragmented past.

In recent years her research interests have broadened to include the histories of animals, in particular birds, and of changes to their habitats.

In addition to digital and analogue photography (including large-scale photograms), she works in video, installation and textiles. She has a particular interest in the photobook.

Significant Exhibitions

Songbirds are Everywhere, Stills Gallery, Sydney 2011

Photography & place: Australian landscape photography 1970s until now, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2011

Stormy Weather: Contemporary Landscape Photography, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 2010

Higashikawa Photo Festa Higashikawa Photography Museum, Japan, 2009 - WINNER 2009 Higashikawa International Photographer Award

The ground, the air, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart December, 2008

Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2006

Twice Removed, Maitland Regional Gallery, Maitland, 2004

2nd Sight: Australian Photography in the National Gallery of Victoria, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 2003

INSULA, SCA Galleries, Sydney, 2003

Spill, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 2002

Photographica Australis, Sala de Exposiciones del Canal de Isabel II, Madrid

Lost to worlds, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne and Stills Gallery, Sydney, 2001

Flock, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand, 2001

Contemporary Photo-Art from Australia, Neuer Berlin Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany, 2000

Secure the Shadow, Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Sydney, 1995

I Am the Rehearsal Master, Australian Centre for Photography, 1989

Scenes on the Death of Nature Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 1986

Carnal Knowledge, Performance Space, Sydney, 1984


The ground the air (conference paper), Association of Art Historians' Conference, London, 2008

Anne Ferran: photography, Global Photography Now: The Asia Pacific Symposium, Tate Modern, London, 2006 Tate Archive

In the ground on the air, Rethinking the Past: Experimental Histories in the Arts conference, UTS, Sydney, 2006

Disappearing into the photograph, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand conference, University of Sydney, 2005

Love, loss and photography: Talking to the photographs of Margaret Michaelis (guest lecture), National Gallery of Australia, 2005

'Empty', Photofile, 2002

'The body in the library', Art Monthly, 2000

'Longer than life', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 2000

'Photography’s still living body, warm to the touch', Blair French (ed.), Photo Files: an Australian Photography Reader, Power Institute & Australian Centre for Photography, 1999

Research Supervision

Alexander James, MFA, 'Into the Midst of the Cloud’

Chloris Latham, MFA, 'Communication, Participation'

Leah McPherson, MFA

Robyn Moore, PhD, ‘Awake in the Woods: Empathic Imagining, Vulnerability, and the Archaeology of Animal Life’

Rhonda Pryor, MFA, 'Encounters with Sensorial Recall, Lived Experience and the Materiality of Place'

Awards & Grants

2012 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts Board, New Work Grant
2009 Higashikawa International Photographer Award
2008 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts/Craft Fund, New Work Grant
2005 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts/Craft Fund, London Studio Residency
2005 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts/Craft Fund, New Work Grant
2003 Gold Coast Ulrick Schubert Photographic Art Award
2002 National Museum of Australia, Spill Artist in Residence
2001 Artists at Work residency, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin
1999 NSW Ministry for the Arts, Women and Arts Fellowship
1999 Australia Council for the Arts, Visual Arts/Craft Fund, New Work Grant
1996 Australia Council for the Arts Barcelona Studio residency

Professional Membership

Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, 2011 -
Art Gallery of NSW Photography Benefactors Committee, 2012 -
Toxicity Research Group, 2011 -

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