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MAGNET reopens

By Ellen Blake

Docklands’ much-loved photography centre MAGNET Galleries Melbourne has reopened following the recent lockdown.

MAGNET Galleries Melbourne president Michael Silver said he was disappointed its closure had coincided with the opening of an exhibition very close to his heart.

Soldier Settler is an exhibition featuring images taken by Les Chandler – one of Australia’s early photographers, ornithologists and conservationists.

The photographs depict life as one of the original soldier settlers at Red Cliffs, near Mildura.

Mr Chandler received land in the area following his participation in the first world war and worked as a fruit grower.

Mr Silver said he was “simply amazed” by the photography.

“I saw it five years ago and knew it was something really special,” he said.

“It’s such a significant part of Australian history.”

Mr Silver worked on the exhibition with Mary Chandler, the daughter of Les Chandler.

Mary died late last year, and Mr Silver credited her with keeping Les’s collection together and preserving his memory.

“I’m just trying to make people know about him,” Mr Silver said

“It’s all about the moments and Les did it – with equipment that didn’t make things any easier.”

“He just produced the most remarkable work and all of those pictures we have on the walls are just the most amazing moments.”

While the exhibition can be viewed virtually, Mr Silver said it was a “shame” it had taken place over the lockdown.

“Docklands is dead,” he said.

“We used to get 40 to 50 plus people a day, now if we get two we’re lucky.”

But Mr Silver said he was hopeful the area would regenerate.

“I’m not worried. We’re very confident things will change, and things will roll on,” he said.

“The world’s changed but we’re very good at changing with it.”

The gallery will unveil a new exhibition in July called Elements and Fragments.

The exhibition features 70 photographs of the South Indian ancient town of Tiruvannamalai taken by local photographers.

The project captures the fast-vanishing culture and lifestyle of the region.

“It’s a beautiful but different look at the world,” Mr Silver said.

Elements and Fragments can be viewed in person and virtually.

MAGNET Galleries Melbourne is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 4pm •

For more information: magnet.org.au

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