On location: Sydney

The exhibition, On Location: Sydney explored Sydney’s history as a setting for major films like Strictly Ballroom, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mission Impossible 2 and They’re a Weird Mob and examined Sydney as a setting for our most outstanding fashion photographers, Max Dupain, Olive Cotton, David Mist and Harold Cazneaux.

Filmmakers have used Sydney as the setting for their creations, both arthouse and commercial, with striking and influential results. Until the recent advent of Fox Studios, feature films produced in Sydney have been shot primarily on location. For most of its hundred-year life the Australian feature film industry has been severely under capitalised, and in Sydney only the Cinesound studios of the 1930s offered a studio alternative to location filming.

’Sydney is very important to the film industry and our city was the star attraction for this exhibition. On Location: Sydney took a behind-the-scenes look at how feature films and fashion photography have imaged the city at home and abroad’, said curator, Charles Pickett.

On Location: Sydney identified filmmaker’s favourite locations through the scouting photographs of two of Australia’s best location scouts, Robin Clifton and Maude Heath. Popular locations included Glebe (Looking for Alibrandi), North Head Quarantine Station (Bliss), Pyrmont Point (Strictly Ballroom), Centennial Park (Babe) and Hickson Road, Walsh Bay which has played host to Newsfront, Babe 2 and The Matrix.

On Location: Sydney also featured some of the results of the Mission: Impossible 2 location scout, the most expensive and extensive conducted in Sydney at the time the exhibition was held.

As a profession Robin Clifton and Maude Heath founded location scouting in Sydney in the 1980s. Today Sydney competes with other cities for a share of local and international film production. However, many of Sydney’s most distinctive film locations are disappearing from the city because of residential and retail development.

On Location: Sydney also featured some of the best fashion photography from the 1930s to the 1990s including photography for TAA, Qantas, Telecom White Pages, Grace Bros, David Jones and Linda Jackson garments.

There’s so much more to Sydney than what we assume. This exhibition brought glamour and fantasy to some of the areas of Sydney which perhaps many of us take for granted

Charles Pickett

15 December 2001 - 31 March 2002