Joyce Evans was born in 1929 in Elsternwick, Victoria. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Social Studies. In 1976 Evans opened Church Street Photographic Centre, a specialist photography gallery and bookshop in Church Street, Richmond, Victoria. It was the first commercial photographic gallery in Melbourne to showcase Australian and International 19th and 20th Century photography.1 Within a short period of time, it became one of Australia’s most innovative commercial galleries with an international reputation. Joyce Evans exhibited works by photographers such as Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Max Dupain, Rennie Ellis, Bill Henson, Fiona Hall, Frank Hurley, André Kertész, David Moore, Arnold Newman, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Brett Weston. The gallery’s bookshop stocked an extensive range of local and international books on photography and the latest specialist photographic periodicals. It became a source of knowledge for Melburnian photographers and photographic artists, and a major supplier of books and magazines to Melbourne’s schools, colleges and tertiary institutions. In 1980 Evan’s inventory of books and magazines became a foundation for another renowned Melbourne institution, The Printed Image bookshop, which also specialised exclusively in photography. The gallery space at Church Street was also used for photographic workshops, which were tutored by a range of photographers and writers of the era such as Pete Turner, editor of Creative Camera, UK; Jean-Marc Lepacheu; John Cato and Ian Cosier. The gallery also housed a photographic dark room and framing facilities (which were used by artists and photographers, notably by German artist Herbert Zangs during his Australian visit in 1981). Joyce Evans closed the Church Street premises in 1982, and relocated the gallery’s collection and inventory to a private studio, from which she continues to operate. In 1978 she was appointed Approved Commonwealth Valuer for Australian and International photography from the 19th Century to the present day for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Evans continues acting as a specialist adviser on photography for a number of public institutions and prominent private collectors in Australia.
Evans took up photography professionally after closing her Church Street gallery space. She works across a number of photographic genres, including portraiture, landscape, and documentary photography. Major areas of investigation include the edge of the road, road kills and fatalities and the land. In her landscape photography, Joyce Evans strives to capture the essence of the place, relating to the viewer not only its purely mimetic qualities, but also the spiritual and psychological sensation of the place. Among the bodies of work that address these themes are a series of photographic essays taken in the Dandenongs and Mt Martha regions in outer Melbourne; along the Hume Hwy; in the Central Desert and outback Australia, most notably Oodnadatta, Oodlawirra, Menindee, and Lake Mungo; vineyards and rural villages in the South of France; and the old Jewish cemetery in the centre of Prague. Evans’s portrait photographs are character studies taken mainly in black and white, at close range, and more often than not constructed within the subject’s own creative environment, whether studio or office, home or out of doors; with the underlying emphasis on the psychological connexion between the sitter and his or her own space. She has created a number of portraits of Australian intelligentsia and personalities, including Marianne Baillieu; Barbara Blackman; Baron Avid von Blumenthal; Tim Burstall; Dur-e Dara; Robert Dessaix; Germaine Greer; Elena Kats-Chernin; Joan Kerr; Ellen Koshland; David Malouf; Dame Elisabeth Murdoch; Lin Onus; Jill Reichstein and Chris Wallace-Crabbe.
As part of her practice, Evans has undertaken several scientific and explorative expeditions; worked as an honorary photographer for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Central Australia; and for over ten years she documented Australian country towns and events for the National Library of Australia.
1. McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art, 2006 ed, 409 2. Church Street Photographic Centre Archives, 1976-1982