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Portrait of a Generation

Saturday 15 March until Sunday 18 May 2003

POL was a magazine that ran from 1969 to 1986. Distinctively Australian, lively and intelligently sexy, POL expressed the preoccupations of a generation of Australians. Originally conceived as a magazine for women, POL aimed for a wider readership of everyone interested in Australian culture.

Mel Gibson, 1982 by William Yang
Mel Gibson, 1982 by William Yang

When Don Dunstan edited the magazine briefly in the early 1980s, he had the cover emblazoned with the slogan 'POL delights in excellence, individuality, creativity and zest for life... Australians of the world unite and read POL - you have nothing to lose but your cultural cringe'.

Over its interesting life POL had many editors, and guest editors included Germaine Greer and Richard Neville. Germaine Greer’s edition (1972) contained fashion spreads (for which she was the model) and Richard Neville’s edition (1974) contained women’s fashions modelled by men in drag, photographed by Grant Mudford. Such ideas were characteristic of POL; for seventeen years it was a vehicle for the examination of people and issues of social interest throughout the Australian community.

POL espoused high production values and was in its day the best designed and most original Australian lifestyle magazine. Its editorial policy was informal and this freedom, combined with its superior printing and art direction meant that it was a great vehicle for a host of great Australian photographers. The first issues included photographic essays by Robert McFarlane, who is now casting a retrospective eye to 30 years ago in a catalogue essay for the exhibition in which he examines the role of POL in the development of Australian photography.

POL: Portrait of a Generation includes the photographs of Wendy Adnam, Colin Beard, Bruno Benini, Anthony Browell, Rennie Ellis, Brett Hilder, John Lethbridge, Jon Lewis, Robert McFarlane, Jacqueline Mitelman, Lewis Morley, Dieter Muller, Lee Pearce, Wes Stacey, Robert Whitaker and William Yang.