Jon Lewis is renowned for depicting everyday life with warmth and humanity and he has produced some of Australia’s most iconic images. His work has been exhibited widely in Australia and overseas and now comes full circle to his childhood hometown of Moss Vale.
In 1984 Jon began taking the first of his many photographs of people on Bondi Beach, which were exhibited in Paris and toured between 1989 and 1993. His photographs of 200 famous and little-known Australian faces became “‘Face to Face – 200 Portraits 1986 – 1988”, now in the Eternity Collection of the National Museum of Australia. Jon’s sincere approach to photography was demonstrated when he went to East Timor in an effort to document the everyday life of its people after independence, and then Bougainville during civil unrest. A love of the natural world is an enduring theme in his work, which has taken him to Kiribati, a Pacific island nation critically endangered by climate change. For the last 4 years Jon has been working on a street portrait project in Sydney, making portraits of perfect strangers in homage to street photographers of the 1930s to 1950s.
Robert McFarlane has written that Jon Lewis is ‘the burr under the saddle of Australian photography’ because of his insistence on a pure, rather than a conceptual, approach to the medium.
Multi-faceted photographer and educator, Jon Lewis spent the early years of his career working as a social photographer and film maker, and living in the Yellow House artist collective in Potts Point. He was a founding member of Greenpeace Australia, which led a successful campaign to end the slaughter of whales there. In a career spanning over 40 years, Jon has also enjoyed teaching and passing on his knowledge. And he believes photography, like all art, has a purpose beyond itself. “All art has the possibility of making us better people,” he says.
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