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Axel Poignant

1906 – 1986

Axel Poignant (1906-1986) photographer, was born in England. His mother was English, his father Swedish. He showed an interest in photography from his early teens, but it was not until the late 1920s - after he had emigrated to Australia in 1926 - that his interest developed into a professional career. Poignant lived first in Sydney, then moved to Perth where he established himself as a portrait and wedding photographer, later as an aerial photographer for Western Mining. Two friendships were to have a profound effect on the direction of his work. In 1939 he met the naturalist Vincent Serventy and in 1940 he met the artist/photographer (later gallery director) Hal Missingham. Poignant shared an exhibition with Missingham in 1941. The following year Poignant began his extensive photographic documentation of the outback and Aboriginal people, travelling the Canning Stock Route. The most extensive photographic record Poignant made was in 1952 when he shared a camp for several months with senior Aboriginal men at the Liverpool River. Poignant's second marriage led him back to England in 1956. England was to remain his base until his death but he returned to Australia frequently in his later years. In 1982 the Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted a major retrospective of his photographs.

Updated 2018