Last Thursday, Contemporaries members were treated to a unique evening of art and conversation in sumptuous surroundings at a one-night-only premiere of About Face: Are you a boy or a girl? by Tamara Dean.

A leafy pathway lined with Persian rugs led the way into a grand Georgian terrace in the inner-city suburb of Paddington. Treasure troves of antique artifacts, paintings, prints and lavish 1970s fixtures created the perfect backdrop to Tamara’s rich and inviting photographs. The series of intimate portraits was hung throughout living areas, hallways and alongside staircases, lit dramatically against the red walls. In each photograph, one of Tamara’s subjects stared back defiantly, vulnerably or openly. Framed unconventionally without glass and infused with the perfume of each subject, the works enticed viewers to lean in closely and explore the unusual depth and textured surfaces. The influence of pre-Raphaelite paintings was evident in the images’ rich detail and strong emotional content.

Host Owen Craven led a fascinating conversation with Tamara, touching on her process of developing this new body of work, the influence of her career in photojournalism on her artistic practice, and her drive to create complete sensory experiences. Of particular resonance was her recollection of the moment she decided to undertake this exploration of androgyny. Tamara described how she is always looking for beauty, and found a rich vein of it in people who embody both masculine and feminine characteristics – the best of both worlds.

Tamara went on to describe the process of finding her subjects, many of whom were present at the event and later discussed their experiences with guests. They had all responded to a call out on social media, and organised to meet with Tamara at vacant homes she had secured through boutique property group BresicWhitney. She described the relationship of trust and intimacy that developed while on set in each quietly decaying terrace house, with her recently compiled ‘wedding playlist’ on loop throughout each encounter.

Guests enjoyed premium wines by Lisa McGuigan and hand-brewed craft beer and cider by Sydney Brewery alongside a selection of boutique cheeses and antipasto. Most memorable of all was the chance to meet Tamara and her subjects, providing an incredible insight into the creative process and the relationships it can create.

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About Face is now showing in the upstairs gallery at Martin Browne Contemporary.

Read more about Tamara Dean’s work in our interview with the artist here.


Be our guest at the next Contemporaries event! Become a member and receive invitations to an exclusive calendar of behind the scenes contemporary art experiences. Find out more and view our upcoming events here.