The Photographer Who’s Captured The Beatles, Blanchett And World Leaders: Meet Robert McFarlane

7 September 2018

Charles Perkins by Robert McFarlane
Charles Perkins going home from University, 1963

Whether it be teenagers socialising in a park, activists on a university campus or world-famous actors perfecting their craft, in his five decades working as a photojournalist, Robert McFarlane has captured more iconic moments of Australian life than most photographers could dream of.

McFarlane has looked at Australia with a keen eye for what will be remembered as its defining moments; with some of his most iconic shots including images of a young Indigenous activist, Charles Perkins, and The Beatles arriving in Australia. Those who have appeared in front of McFarlane’s lens include – but are not limited to – Prime Ministers, film directors, artists, surgeons, activists and workers, as he uniquely chronicled the changing face of the country.

His inspiring photography has seen him become the 2017 recipient of the Jim Bettison and Helen James Award, which recognises Australians who have contributed exemplary lifelong work benefiting the broader community.

Cate Blanchett by Robert McFarlane
Cate Blanchett in ‘The Blind Giant Is Dancing’ at Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney, 1995

Interested in McFarlane’s work? During this year’s Adelaide Film Festival, he’ll give a special oration as the Bettison James Award recipient, you can catch a screening of a special slideshow of his photographs, and you can view Robert McFarlane: The Still Point, followed by a discussion with Robert McFarlane and The Waiting Room artists Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer, plus see his photographs in Starstruck at the Samstag Museum of Art. Entry to all is free.

The Jim Bettison and Helen James Award

The Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation was established to realise the vision of Dr Jim Bettison and Ms Helen James, who were committed to supporting a wide range of activity in the community through philanthropy and professional engagement.

McFarlane’s win recognises his work as a leading Australian social documentary and arts photographer. The Bettison James Award gave Robert the opportunity to collate an invaluable archive of his collection to ensure Australians can benefit from his work well into the future.

John Duigan and Judy Davis by Robert McFarlane
Director John Duigan and Actor Judy Davis, ‘Winter of our Dreams’, Sydney, 1981

“During my five-decade working life as a photojournalist, it’s been a privilege to witness the evolving social, artistic and political fabric of Australia,” says McFarlane.

“I’m honoured to have been invited into such illustrious company, and for my photography to be recognised as being worthy of such an important award as this. The award is far more than just an honour, of course – it affords recipients the opportunity to continue and build on their life’s work, and that speaks to the vision, foresight and generosity of Jim Bettison and Helen James.”

Celebrate McFarlane’s work – and hear from the photographer himself

Robert McFarlane: The Still Point, screening and discussion

A screening of Robert McFarlane: The Still Point, followed by a discussion with Robert McFarlane and The Waiting Room artists Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer, will take place at the Allan Scott Auditorium at the University of South Australia.

Thursday 18 October, 5:30pm. Free entry. Register here.

Robert McFarlane: A Lifetime Not Still, screening and oration

A special slideshow of McFarlane’s work, A Lifetime Not Still, will be screened at GU Film House. McFarlane will also give an oration as the Jim Bettison and Helen James Award recipient.

Saturday 20 October, 2:15pm. Free entry. Bookings essential through Eventbrite.