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Touring photo exhibition highlights 2020 regional stories

Media release

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Tuesday 28 June 2022

State Library Victoria has today announced that a selection of photographs from its collection depicting the impact of COVID-19 and the 2019–20 bushfires in regional Victoria will tour the state throughout the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.

State of Change: Rural & regional stories from 2020 will be on display in regional libraries in locations around the state including in Colac, Geelong and Bright from 4 July 2022.​

The series of images was captured as part of a pilot documentary photography project undertaken by the Library’s collection team and proposed by photographer John Rodsted, to capture the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2019-2020 bushfires on Victoria’s rural and regional communities.

Photographers Tiffany Garvie, Fabiana Guerreiro, Aldona Kmieć and James Wiltshire worked with their own regional Victorian communities in East Gippsland, High Country and along the Great Ocean Road to portray the unique issues they faced and the experiences they shared throughout 2020.

State Library Victoria Acting Head of Collection Development and Description Toni Burton said these photographs are an important addition to the state’s collection.

“State Library Victoria is always looking to add regional Victorian content to its collection, so the stories of all Victorians can be told for generations to come,” she said.

“Our priority is to ensure the collection is representative of all Victorians, and this kind of contemporary collecting is one of the best ways to do that.

“We are thrilled that this project resulted in over 350 digital images, showing a side of the community that only a local could capture.”

State Library Victoria Curator Jade Hadfield said she is excited to share these powerful images of rural and regional Victorians in their own communities. 

“These photographs bring the lived experience of rural and regional communities to the forefront and capture vital records of contemporary life at a time of major change,” she said.

“We can’t wait to share a selection of them with the people who live in the places they depict.”

Two selections of photographs will be displayed in different parts of Victoria. The images chosen will relate to the surrounding area of each regional library they’re displayed at, alongside others that are relevant to all Victorians.

The first selection will be shown in Colac from 4 July – 29 August. It will then be on display in Geelong from 29 August – 29 September. The second selection will be exhibited in Bright from 11 July – 10 October.

​Interviews are available with State Library Victoria Acting Head of Collection Development and Description Toni Burton and Curator Jade Hadfield.


About State Library Victoria
Established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world. As the custodian of Victoria’s history, the library has a rich collection of physical and digital items such articles, artworks, photographs, manuscripts, books, journals, artefacts which are accessible to the public.