Carol Jerrems

Carol Jerrems (14 March 1949 – 21 February 1980) was an Australian photographer/filmmaker whose work emerged just as her medium was beginning to regain the acceptance as an art form that it had in the Pictorial era, and in which she newly synthesizes complicity performed, documentary and autobiographical image-making of the human subject, as exemplified in her Vale Street.[1][2]

Carol Jerrems
Carol Jerrems photographed by Rennie Ellis at Brummell Gallery in 1975.jpg
Jerrems photographed by Rennie Ellis at Brummels Gallery in 1975
Born(1949-03-14)14 March 1949
Died21 February 1980(1980-02-21) (aged 30)
Known forPhotography

Known for documenting the revolutionary spirit of sub-cultures including that of indigenous Australians, disaffected youth, and the emergent feminist movement of Melbourne in the 1970s, her work has been compared to that of internationally known Americans Larry Clark–of a slightly older generation–and Nan Goldin, as well as fellow Australian William Yang.[3]

Jerrems died at age 30. Her short yet productive seven-year career parallels that of contemporary Francesca Woodman.

Early lifeEdit

Jerrems was born on 14 March 1949 at Ivanhoe, Melbourne[1][2] the third child of Victorian-born parents Eric Alfred Jerrems (1917–1970), an accountant with Edward Trenchard and Co., Stock and Station Agents in Collins Street, Melbourne, and Joyce Mary (a.k.a. Joy) née Jacobs, (1922–1993), commercial seamstress and hobby watercolorist. Jerrems attended (1955–60) Ivanhoe Primary School and Heidelberg High School (1961–66) and went on to complete a Diploma of Art and Design, majoring in Photography (1967–70), in the newly established photography course at Prahran Technical School, where she was taught by cinematographer Paul Cox and acted in his film Skin Deep.[4] During her studies she was awarded the Walter Lindrum Scholarship, the Institute of Australian Photographers Award, and First Prize in the Kodak Students Photographic Competition.

Having graduated from Prahran Technical School, Jerrems undertook a Diploma of Education at Hawthorn State College, Melbourne.


In 1971, National Gallery of Victoria curator Jennie Boddington (from 1972 director of the first Department of Photography in any Australian public gallery) acquired Jerrems' work for the collection.[5]

She remained close to Paul Cox, appearing in his The Journey (1972), and to fellow Prahran College ex-students lan Macrae and Robert Ashton, with whom she shared 11 Mozart Street, St. Kilda. She appears in Ian Macrae's experimental stop-frame short Fly Wrinklys Fly which he made for Channel 9.[3]

When, in 1973, Jerrems started teaching at Heidelberg Technical School, she befriended its disadvantaged students who lived in the 1956 Olympic Village housing commission flats, some of whom were members of sharpie gangs.[6][7] She photographed and filmed them in nearby Banyule Reserve at Viewbank on the Yarra River.[8] Series of these images were published in the Melbourne University quarterly Circus amongst the increasing number of commissions and publications she secured through her widening networks in cinema, theatre, music and women's liberationist[9] and aboriginal communities.

Jerrems also made a friend of 62-year-old Henry Talbot (who was then exchanging an illustrious career in fashion photography for teaching), posed for him. They formed a collaboration so successful that when Australia's first stand-alone photography gallery Brummels was opened by Rennie Ellis and Robert Ashton above a cafe at 95 Toorak Road, South Yarra, the inaugural exhibition was Two Views of Erotica: Henry Talbot/Carol Jerrems (14 December 1972 – 21 January 1973).[10][11] Talbot invited her to teach photography with him at the Preston Institute and in 1975 she also began teaching photography, filmmaking and yoga at Coburg Technical School, Melbourne.

These successes brought her, in 1974, an exhibition of her 1968 College assignment The Alphabet Folio at the National Gallery of Victoria,[3] and inclusion in a survey of contemporary Australian photography published by the newly formed Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), Sydney.[12] She published A Book About Australian Women[13] prompted by the upcoming International Women's Year (IWY) of 1975, also exhibiting 32 works-in-progress from this series at Brummels (1974).


In 1975, Jerrems moved to Sydney to live with her boyfriend, filmmaker Esben Storm. She taught at Hornsby and Meadowbank Technical Colleges.

In Sydney, Jerrems exhibited solo and conducted workshops at the ACP. She later showed at Hogarth Galleries, then with Christine Godden, Christine Cornish and Jenny Aitken in Four Australian Women, at the Photographers' Gallery in South Yarra, Melbourne (18 May–11 June 1978), and with Roderick McNicol at Pentax Brummels Gallery of Photography (3 August–3 September 1978). Another solo exhibition at the ACP followed in November that included photographs from her series Thirty—eight Buick (1976) and Sharpies (1976).[14] Meanwhile, Jerrems completed her film Hanging About (1978),[15][16] about rape:

"Rape is the hatred, contempt and oppression of women in this society, in one act. It is a symptom of a mass sickness called sexism. This sickness can be cured. In order to change, we have to change." (from closing title)

The actors included Kate Grenville and Esben Storm, who shared a house with Jerrems at 19 Second Avenue, Willoughby, and was shot on 16 mm film by fellow tenant, Michael Edols. The film was (posthumously) a finalist in the general section of the Greater Union Awards and shown on 13 June 1980, at the opening of the Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre, Sydney.[17] Critic Robert Neri wrote; "Hangin Out [sic] is well shot in black and white, about a female stripper, and composed of fast and slow, theatrical and verité-like shots."[18]

Tasmania and terminal illnessEdit

In 1979 Jerrems began teaching at the School of Art in the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, Hobart, but was admitted to hospital on 12 June suffering Budd–Chiari syndrome. Despite the painful condition, she worked on a photo-diary of her prolonged stay in Royal Hobart Hospital then traveled to Sydney that August to contribute to the Visual Arts Board photography assessment panel for the Australia Council with Bill Heimerman.[3] However, on 19 November 1979 she was admitted again to hospital in Melbourne. She died 21 February 1980 at The Alfred Hospital.[1]


Jerrems, Vale Street 1975.

Jerrems photographed in a subjective manner, responding interactively with her subject and their environment. As Keaney notes, "By gazing directly into the lens, hamming it up for the camera, or striking a pose, the subjects of Jerrems’ portraits of the mid-70s reveal the collaborative nature of her working method.”[19] Drayton, director of Girl in a Mirror, supports this notion of collaboration; "In the act of photographing, Jerrems challenged herself and her models to extend themselves in a mutual game of improvisation and exploration, facilitated by the presence of her camera. This created an intimate frisson between herself and her subjects which is clearly registered in the most powerful of her portraits."[3]

Proof sheets for Vale Street reveal a day-long shooting session that is a change from the apparently more spontaneous preceding work for A Book About Australian Women. There is a change of location (from Mozart Street to Vale Street, St Kilda) before the male sharpie youths Mark Lean and Jon Bourke, and Jerrems' female model Catriona Brown, whom they had not met before, relaxed enough to remove their shirts for the selected image. The image has been identified as marking a shift from documentary realism to more subjective postmodern style of photography[20]

She always used a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic single-lens reflex camera with a standard f1.4 50mm lens, eschewing wide or telephoto lenses, and used black and white film, usually Kodak Tri-X, which she processed and printed herself in a series of home and college darkrooms, and colour only rarely.

She used available light, without flash; responding in 1978 to Philip Quirk's unpublished interview question for Rolling Stone, "If you could be in any one situation anywhere, at any time with anyone and any camera, what would it be?" Jerrems answered "With people or one person, natural light, morning or late afternoon, and a 35mm SLR."[3]

In an interview with Natalie king, Robert Ashton, himself a fastidious technician, recalled that Jerrems "...always had her camera with her. She was very meticulous technically so even her proof sheets were a work of art..."[3]

Her unpublished note, "Teaching Philosophy" lists four elements that Jerrems identified as crucial to photography: "1.Subject Matter; 2.Composition; 3.Lighting; 4.The Decisive Moment."[3]


Carol Jerrems' life and work has achieved wide recognition through exhibitions and screenings of her films; the touring 1990 Australian National Gallery posthumous retrospective, Living in the 70s: Photographs by Carol Jerrems, curated by Helen Ennis and Bob Jenyns; the documentary Girl in a Mirror (2005);[21] and the Heidi exhibition and accompanying book Up Close comparing her to autobiographical documentarians, the Americans Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, and Australian William Yang.[3]

Jerrems photographs and negatives are archived at the National Gallery of Australia.

Jerrems' work is highlighted in She Persists: Perspectives on Women in Art & Design published by the National Gallery of Victoria.[22]


  • 1968 Walter Lindrum Scholarship
  • 1970 Institute of Australian Photographers Award
  • 1971 Kodak student photographic competition
  • 1975 Creative Development Branch, Australia Film Commission, Experimental Film Grant
  • 1975 Travel Grant, by the Visual Arts Board, Australia Council.



  • 1974, November; Alphabet Folio, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
  • 1974, December; images from A Book About Australian Women, Brummels Gallery of Photography (alongside Robert Ashton's Into the Hollow Mountains)
  • 1976 concurrent showing with Melanie le Guay, Australian Centre for Photography, .
  • 1978, 1 November to 2 December; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney


  • 1972/3, 14 December - 21 January; Two Views of Erotica: Henry Talbot/Carol Jerrems, Brummels Gallery[11]
  • 1973 joint exhibition with Lorraine Jenyns (ceramic sculpture) at Chapman Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne
  • 1973 Womanvision, at Sydney Filmmaker's Co-op.
  • 1975 Woman, an exhibition and publication by the Young Women's Christian Association of Australia for International Women's Year
  • 1976/7, December–January Rennie Ellis and Carol Jerrems: Heroes and Anti-Heroes[23]
  • 1977 Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
  • 1978, 18 May to 11 June; Four Australian Women, Carol Jerrems with Christine Godden, Christine Cornish and Jenny Aitken, Photographers' Gallery, South Yarra, Melbourne
  • 1978, 3 August to 3 September; with Roderick McNicol, Pentax Brummels Gallery of Photography.



  • 1990/91 Travelling exhibition Living in the 70s: Photographs by Carol Jerrems, curated by curators: Helen Ellis, Bob Jenyns, National Gallery of Australia University of Tasmania, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart, 20 July-12 August 1990; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, New South Wales, 24 August-29 September 1990; Australian National Gallery, Canberra, ACT, 23 February-12 May 1991;[24] Albury Regional Centre, Albury, New South Wales, 24 May-23 June 1991; Shepparton Art Gallery, Shepparton, Victoria, 29 JUne-28 July 1991; The Exhibition Gallery, The Waverley Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, 4 August-15 September 1991.
  • 2012/13, 25 Aug – 31 Jan; Carol Jerrems, Photographic artist, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra[25]
  • 2013, 5 July to 29 September; Carol Jerrems: photographic artist, Monash Gallery of Art, Victoria[26][27]
  • 2016/17, 3 Dec-11 Feb; Carol Jerrems (1949-1980) Photographic Artist, Josef Lebovich Gallery, Sydney



  • University of Melbourne. Magazine Society (1970), Circus, The Society, in several issues
  • Jerrems, Carol; Fraser, Virginia, 1947-, (ed.) (1974), A book about Australian women, Outback Press, ISBN 978-0-86888-007-5 {{citation}}: |author2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Cinema papers, Global Village Cinema Publications, July 1977, p. cover, 30, 65
  • Aspects of the Philip Morris collection : four Australian photographers. Australie, Australia council. Sydney Paris: Visual arts board Australian embassy. 1980. ISBN 978-0-908024-33-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  • Jerrems, Carol; Ennis, Helen, (curator of exhibition.); Jenyns, Bob, (curator of exhibition.); Plimsoll Gallery, (host institution.); University of Tasmania. Art Exhibitions Committee, (issuing body.) (1990), Living in the 70s : photographs, Art Exhibitions Committee, University of Tasmania, ISBN 978-0-85901-458-8{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • King, Natalie (editor.); Jerrems, Carol, (photographer.); Clark, Larry, (photographer.); Goldin, Nan, (photographer.); Yang, William, (photographer.); Heide Museum of Modern Art, (host institution.) (2010), Up close : Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang, Heide Museum of Modern Art : Schwartz City, ISBN 978-1-86395-501-0 {{citation}}: |author1= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[37]


  • 1975 Carol Jerrems; School's Out, 16mm film sequence in application for an Australia Council grant. Not completed.[3]
  • 1978 Hanging About: A Short Film by Carol Jerrems, (earlier known as Hanging Out), 16mm. Cast: Robyn Bucknall, Linda Piper, Kate Grenville, Richard Moir, Esben Storm. Cinematographer: Michael Edols; Production: Australian Film Commission[18]


  • Art Gallery of South Australia[38]
  • National Gallery of Victoria[39]
  • National Library of Australia[40]
  • National Gallery of Australia[41]


  1. ^ a b c "Jerrems, Carol Joyce (1949–1980)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b Peter Wilmoth (17 July 2005). "The '70s stripped bare". The Age. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k King, Natalie, 1966-, (editor.); Jerrems, Carol, 1949-1980, (photographer.); Clark, Larry, 1943-, (photographer.); Goldin, Nan, 1953-, (photographer.); Yang, William, 1943-, (photographer.); Heide Museum of Modern Art, (host institution.) (2010), Up close : Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang, Heide Museum of Modern Art : Schwartz City, ISBN 978-1-86395-501-0 {{citation}}: |author1= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Cox, Paul, 1940– & Illumination Films (Australia) & Contemporary Arts Media (Firm) (2011). Paul Cox early work: short films 1965–1980. Distributed by Contemporary Arts Media, South Melbourne, Vic
  5. ^ Crombie, I., 'Introduction', In 2nd Sight: Australian Photography in the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2002, p. 9.
  6. ^ Local Lives/Global Networks University of Newcastle (2011), So Sharp You Could Bleed: Sharpies and Visual Culture, A moment in the Seventies History of Melbourne, University of Newcastle, retrieved 31 January 2020
  7. ^ Foster, Alasdair (August 2003), "Look sharp [Views of seventies suburbia by Carol Jerrems and Peter Robertson.]", Photofile (69): 60–63, ISSN 0811-0859
  8. ^ Michelsen, Anders, 1957–, (editor.); Tygstrup, Frederik, (editor.) (2015), Socioaesthetics : ambience – imaginary, Leiden Brill, pp. 89–94, ISBN 978-90-04-24627-0 {{citation}}: |author1= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Burke, Janine (1990), Field of vision : a decade of change: women's art in the seventies, Penguin, p. 21, retrieved 10 January 2016
  10. ^ Ashton, R. (2004). Rennie Ellis, 1940-2003:[Obituary.]. Photofile, (70), 64
  11. ^ a b "The Jerrems pictures are all intensely personal, and they have a youthful evocative quality"; Beatrice Faust, "Erotica", Nation Review, 15–22 December 1972, p. 288.
  12. ^ Australian Centre for Photography & Howe, Graham, 1950– (1974). New photography Australia : a selective survey. The Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington, N.S.W,
  13. ^ Jerrems, Carol & Fraser, Virginia, 1947–, (ed.) (1974). A book about Australian women. Outback Press, North Fitzroy, Vic
  14. ^ Supski, S., & Beilharz, P. (2015). Tricks with mirrors: Sharpies and their representations. Youth Cultures and Subcultures: Australian Perspectives, 265-274
  15. ^ Hanging About, c1978, Cast: Kate Grenville, Richard Moir, Esben Storm, Robyn Bucknall, Linda Piper, Cinematographer/Director of photography: Michael Edols, Director: Carol Jerrems, Editor (Film): Carol Jerrems, Production company: Australian Film Commission
  16. ^ Memories worth the seeing. (1 September 1990). Filmnews (Sydney), p. 12. Retrieved 16 December 2015, from
  17. ^ GU Awards. (1 May 1980). Filmnews (Sydney), p. 1. Retrieved 17 December 2015, from
  18. ^ a b "Memories worth the seeing". Filmnews. New South Wales, Australia. 1 September 1990. p. 12. Retrieved 29 January 2020 – via Trove.
  19. ^ Keaney, Magdalene; National Portrait Gallery (Australia) (2001), So you wanna be a rock star : portraits and rock music in Australia, National Portrait Gallery, ISBN 978-0-9579705-2-6
  20. ^ "The '70s stripped bare". The Age. 17 July 2005. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  21. ^ Bowden, Helen & Drayton, Kathy & Film Finance Corporation Australia (2005). Girl in a mirror a portrait of Carol Jerrems. Film Finance Corporation Australia Ltd & Toi-Toi Films Pty Ltd, [N.S.W.]
  22. ^ Megan Patty (editor) ; Myles Russell-Cook (editor) ; Annika Aitken (editor) ; Maria Quirk (editor) (2020). She Persists. Melbourne, VIC. ISBN 978-1-925432-76-3. OCLC 1128178834. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "Exhibitions (1971–2003)". Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  24. ^ "PHOTOGRAPHY When images from a camera became art". The Canberra Times. 8 July 1987. p. 30. Retrieved 17 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ "Carol Jerrems: Photographic Artist". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Carol Jerrems: photographic artist". Australian Arts Review. 6 July 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Exhibition: Carol Jerrems' Melbourne - Australian Photography". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  28. ^ 'Australie a l'honneur', Le Courrier Australien, November 01,1980, Sydney, p.11
  29. ^ Aspects of the Philip Morris collection : four Australian photographers. Australie, Australia council. Sydney Paris: Visual arts board Australian embassy. 1980. ISBN 978-0-908024-33-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  30. ^ "Photographs show how image of Australian woman has changed in 150 years". The Canberra Times. 3 April 1988. p. 10. Retrieved 17 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  31. ^ "A drink in the mainstream". The Canberra Times. 9 March 1991. p. 24. Retrieved 17 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  32. ^ "Validation of art and culture". The Canberra Times. 7 February 1991. p. 16. Retrieved 17 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  33. ^ ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Celebrating the family. (27 January 1995). The Canberra Times, p. 13. Retrieved 17 December 2015, from
  34. ^ Peers, J. (2010). Up Close: Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang. Artlink, 30(4), 93.
  35. ^ Conrad, Peter (October 2010), "The Faith of Images: Up Close", Monthly, the (October 2010): 58–61, ISSN 1832-3421
  36. ^ AGNSW description of exhibition
  37. ^ Hjorth, Larissa (2010), "Confessions from intimate strangers: review of Up Close: Carol Jerrems with Larry CIark, Nan Goldin and William Yang, Heide Museum of Modern Art 31 July - 31 October 2010", Photofile (91): 70, ISSN 0811-0859
  38. ^ st, Visit North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000 Australia T. +61 8 8207 7000 E. infoartgallery sa gov au www agsa sa gov au AGSA Kaurna yartangka yuwanthi AGSA; l, s on Kaurna; Maps, Open in. "Carol Jerrems". AGSA - Online Collection. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  39. ^ "Artists | NGV".
  40. ^ Jerrems, Carol : photography related ephemera material collected by the National Library of Australia], 1900, retrieved 29 January 2020
  41. ^ "Carol Jerrems". National Gallery of Australia. Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Australian Dictionary of Biography
  • Moore, Catriona; Power Institute of Fine Arts (1994), Indecent exposures : twenty years of Australian feminist photography, Allen & Unwin in association with the Power Institute of Fine Arts, ISBN 978-1-86373-162-1
  • Annear, Judy; Teffer, Nicola; Drew, Erica; Jackson, Philip, 1961-; Art Gallery of New South Wales (2000), World without end : photography and the 20th century, Art Gallery of New South Wales, ISBN 978-0-7347-6314-3{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit