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John McRae’s Multi Media Exhibition in collaboration with Vivid Festival: 23 May - 9 June

Wednesday 14/05/14

Date of Exhibition:  23 May - 9 June, 2014
Venue: North Sydney Olympic Pool
In Collaboration with: Vivid Festival


Best known for his hard-hitting portraiture, John McRae presents Portraits of Matthew Mitcham, an exhibition at the North Sydney Olympic Pool as part of the Vivid Sydney Festival from May 23 to June 9, 2014

In 2008, at the Olympic Games in Beijing, young Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won the gold medal in the 10-metre platform event, with the highest scoring single dive in Olympic history. Single-handedly, he broke the dominance of the Chinese in Olympic mens diving (the other 7 of the 8 gold medals were won by Chinese athletes). Today, in the lead-up to Mitcham’s participation in the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in August, McRae presents his larger-than-life images of Australia’s greatest Olympic diver and sportsman of the year. These include both studio-based portraits and photo-journalistic images of Mitcham in training.

McRae’s ongoing series of photographs of Mitcham trace the development of an athlete from an uncertain youngster into a media-savvy man of confidence and an icon of inner strength.  In a unique series of six revealing portraits of Mitcham taken by McRae from 2008 to 2013 (MMVIII-MMXIII), the diver faces the camera with the same neutral pose, captured in identikit head-shots. We see him gradually change from a shy teenager into a high-profile role model, a man with his face being splashed on the covers of American magazines.

“Essentially, I am using the camera as a tool for tracking and mapping a personality,” says McRae.

“It has been great to have this focus on the changes in my moods and my physique over the years,” says Mitcham in McRae’s Sydney studio. “In the early images, I look like an infant. Or like I’m posing for a photo for a high-school yearbook. But maybe I don’t  really want to get older. I want to be Pater Pan”.

Mitcham pouts as he strikes a dramatic pose, playing the comic. McRae laughs, and comments: “I like the way you’re hanging on to youth with such dignity.”

Rome-based exhibition curator Jonathan Turner writes: “In his exploration of the dualistic concept of masculinity/femininity, McRae’s portraits sometimes poke fun at our fashion-obsessed universe. He treats his subjects with respect, yet there is always an underlying sense of sly emotion, mischief and intimacy. His sharply-focused vision includes portraits of singers, athletes, film-makers, top models, drag queens and sailors.”

McRae’s portraits regularly feature as finalists in many of Australia’s most notable art prizes, including the Olive Cotton Award at the Tweed River Art Gallery, the National Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery Canberra, the Moran Portrait Prize, the Head On Portrait Prize, the Blake Prize and the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Award.  In 2012 McRae’s large triptych, Margaret Olley in her Paddington Studio (the last official portrait of Olley before her death in July, 2012 at the age of 88) was voted the winner of the people’s choice award at the National Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.  In 2013 McRae was awarded the winner of the popular Shoot the Chef competition, sponsored by Fairfax/Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month, with his portrait of Ali and Osso Buco. His work has been seen in solo and group exhibitions in Italy, France, Germany, the US and throughout Australia.


About JOHN McRae

Features internationally recognised photographer John McRae who exhibits his larger than life images of Australia’s greatest Olympic diver and sportsman of the year, Matt Mitcham. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the young Australian diver won the gold medal in the 10-metre platform event.


Solo Exhibitions:

2014  Portraits of Matthew Mitcham, Nth Sydney Olympic Pool, part of Vivid 2014

          Lip Service, ACAF Studio & Art Terminal, Sydney

2012  Vibrazioni Pazzi, Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome

          MMXII Portraits of Matthew Mitcham, Gallery Vientiane, Sydney                                                                                         

2011  Art Meet Fashion (Gossip Couture), Global Gallery, Sydney

2008  Sailor Style - Banca Giuratale, Gozo, Malta

2005  Sailor Style – Mate Gallery, Berlin

2005  Blow by Blow – The Center, New York

2003  Blow by Blow - Atelier Gallery, New York

2002  Natimuk and friends - Rushcutters Bay Gallery, Sydney

          Recent Photographs - GrantPirrie Gallery, Sydney

2001  Undressed - Rushcutters Bay Gallery, Sydney

          Déshabillé - Galerie Say, Paris

2000  Recent work - Atelier Gallery, Soho, New York

1999  Vernissage, Zanzibar Showroom, Sydney

1998  Recent work - Gallery 1A, Sydney

1995  Wimmera Impressions - Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre, Sydney

1986  Silk - National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


Group Exhibitions:

2013  Shoot the Chef, Winner Critic’s Choice, Star City. Sydney & Rialto, Melbourne

          Head On Portrait Prize - Finalist, State Library, Sydney

          Add On, Danks Street Gallery, Sydney (Part of the Head On Photographic Festival 2013)

2012  5 Photo-based Artists, Ausin Tung Gallery, Melbourne

          The 2012 National Photographic Portrait Prize (Winner People’s Choice Award), National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

          The Blake Prize (Finalist), S & H Ervin Gallery, Sydney

          The Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photographic Award (Finalist), Gold Coast City Art Gallery

          The 2012 Moran Photographic Award (Finalist), Sydney

2011  The 2011 National Photographic Portrait Prize (Finalist), National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

          The Olive Cotton Award (Finalist), Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW

          International Art Exhibition for the Queensland Flood Relief, BlackWattle Café, Sydney

           Add On, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney (Part of the Head On Photographic Festival 2011)

           Mount Eyre Art Prize (Finalist), Rex Livingston Art Dealer, Sydney

2010   Sydney Life, Art and About Festival, Hyde Park, Sydney

       La Follia (Madness, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva),  Villa Rufolo, Ravello (IT) as part of the Ravello Festival 2010

           3 Dimensions, Maree Azzopardi, Renato Grome & John McRae, Smith & Hall, Sydney

           Matt, Dive, Gold - Smith and Hall, Sydney (Curated by Jonathan Turner)

           The Blake Prize Travelling Exhibition (Delmar Trinity Gallery, Tweed River Art Gallery Western Plains

           Cultural Centre, Port Macquarie Hastings Regional Gallery)

2009   The Blake Prize, (Finalist), National Art School, Sydney

           The Blake Prize Travelling Exhibition (Ararat Regional Art Gallery)

           The Olive Cotton Award, (Finalist), Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW

           Kings Cross Photogrphic Award (2nd Prize, portrait award) King Cross Library, Sydney

           Matt, Dive, Gold - Lipanjepuntin Arte Contemporanea, Rome (Curated by Jonathan Turner)   

           Multiple Personalities, Ward 17 & 18, Rozelle Psychiatric Hospital, Sydney

2008   The Olive Cotton Award, (Finalist), Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW

2007   Galleria Paola Verengia, Salerno (Italy)

           Off The Wall, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne

           Off The Wall, Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney

2006   The Olive Cotton Award, (Finalist), Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW

2005   Face to Face (Matteo Basile, Rocco Dubbini, Fritz Kok, John McRae) – Galleria Il Ponte

          Contemporanea, Rome

           Tripod – Spazio ex-Deco, Teramo (Italy)

           The All-Australian Show (Maree Azzopardi, Paul Ferman, Matthew Griffin,

           John McRae, Tracey Moffatt and Selina Ou) – Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome

           The All-Australian Show – Lipanjepuntin Arte Contemporanea, Trieste

2004   Sailor Style - Maritime Museum, Sydney

2002   Humanite - Cafe Mado, Montreal

           Sexidem - Ground Floor Gallery, Sydney

2001   Hung, Drawn and Framed - PCL Exhibitionists, Sydney

           1+2 - Galerie Say, Paris

           Identité - Salle Gouverneur, Montreal

2000   Hung, Drawn and Painted - PCL Exhibitionists, Sydney

           5 Australian Painters – Roebling Street Gallery, Williamsburg, New York

1999   Neroli Weaver and John McRae - , Zanzibar Showroom, Drummoyne

           Both Sides of the Bridge - Gallery 1A, Sydney

           Fisher’s Ghost Art Award – Winner of works on paper award. Campbelltown City Bicentennaial Art Gallery

1998   1 metre square - Open House Gallery, Sydney

1997   Expressions of Freedom II – Hyatt Hotel, Canberra

           Bloom II - C.A.S.A. Studios, Sydney

           Expressions of Day and Night - Hyatt Hotel, Canberra

1996   Expressions of Freedom – Sydney

           Bloom - C.A.S.A. Studios, Sydney


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