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Capturing Change: In conversation with Matthew Abbott

Hosted by the State Library of NSW

Image: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times

Image: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times

Australian photographer Matthew Abbott won second prize in the 2020 World Press Photo Contest (Spot News, Stories category). His photograph of a kangaroo trying to escape a wildfire, near a burning house in Lake Conjola, NSW, Australia made front-page news around the world. The image is part of a series of photographs Matthew took during the 2019–20 Australian bushfires.

The State Library of New South Wales has been exclusively screening the JNI-supported film Capturing Change, which followed Abbott as he worked to record the catastrophic events, capturing not only his commitment to his work but his desire to document the effect of the fires on the people and the country.

In special one-on-one online discussion, hosted by the State Library of NSW, Matthew shared his experiences and how his work has affected his views on climate change and its human impact. Matthew was interviewed by Philippa McDonald who was the Bushfire Recovery Reporter for the ABC.


Matthew Abbott portrait

Matthew Abbott is a documentary photographer based in Sydney, Australia. He is widely recognised for covering social and political issues that define Australia. He studied International Photojournalism at the Danish School of Journalism and completed a Masters of Studio Arts at Sydney University. He is a current member of the Oculi collective, Australia’s leading cooperative of photographic artists.

Matthew’s photographs have been exhibited extensively, internationally and throughout Australia, including at the Centre of Contemporary Photography, Perth Centre of Contemporary Photography and the MAMA Gallery. He won the Sydney Morning Herald Documentary Photographer Award and the Melbourne Leica Photojournalism Award. Abbott’s photographs documenting Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island for Der Spiegel were nominated for and exhibited at the Reporterpreis in Berlin, Germany.

Philippa McDonald is an award winning journalist with more than 30 years covering Australian and international news and current affairs.

As a senior reporter with ABC News, she covered the bushfires throughout New South Wales. For much of 2020 she focussed on how affected communities were recovering from the catastrophic disaster, holding all tiers of government and charities to account. Philippa’s high profile reporting also included the highly successful digital and TV investigation “The Anatomy of a Mega Blaze”

She is a member of the ABC team nominated for this year’s Walkley Award for Coverage of a Major News Event or issue.

State Library of NSW
  • Where

    State Library of NSW

  • When

    22 October 2020