(Richard’s photographs) delight the eye as beautiful symbols of the Australian landscape and indulge our senses in enough mystery to last a life time. Yet they are not a denial of actuality.
— Max Dupain, 1983
 Richard Woldendorp in front of one of his aerial photographs

Richard Woldendorp in front of one of his aerial photographs

Biography

Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1927, Woldendorp showed an interest in painting and drawing from an early age, and eventually studied commercial art. Joining the Dutch army at the age of nineteen he was posted to Indonesia.  After three years his company was moved out and being young servicemen, were encouraged by the Australian government to apply for immigration and so  he decided to emigrate to the warmer climate of Australia in 1951. Although destined for Sydney, he decided to stay in Fremantle for a time, but ended up staying in Western Australia.

In 1955 Woldendorp planned a holiday back to Holland and bought his first camera, a folding Voeghtlander 6x9 which was the beginning of his long association with photography. He became fascinated with the camera as a creative tool and consequently joined the Cottesloe Camera Club where members shared knowledge, equipment and inspiration. By 1961 Woldendorp had amassed both the confidence and a sufficient range of photographs to enter and win first and third prize in the Craven-A National Portrait Photographic competition.  This recognition gave him the incentive to embark on establishing himself as a freelance photographer, working for magazines, government departments and mining companies. This extensive travel introduced him to the outback and the Australian landscape.  Intrigued by the spaciousness, the light and its uniqueness he took to landscape photography, specialising in aerial photography.

Over this time Woldendorp has received multiple awards (listed below), has had 38 solo exhibitions - one of these, 'Abstract Earth' was toured throughout WA at 15 venues - and has contributed to many more exhibitions. He is the author of 27 books, publishing many of these himself.

Richard Woldendorp's descriptions of his work and motivation encapsulate an inquisitive passion for Australia: 

“The Australian landscape has always appealed to me.  There's something about it - its spaciousness, its character, the light and its uniqueness.  But it also is a very old landscape.  It is the flattest and driest continent, which compared with other countries, does not manifest itself in grandeur as we know it - large rivers, large mountains and the dramatic changes of the seasons.

However, I found that by looking at the landscape from the air, many characteristics revealed themselves much better and form a strong image not visible at ground level.  It shows the evolution and the geographical variations.  Australia also has large spaciousness, virtually unaffected by man, so it is possible to record millions of years of evolution in total.  

One of the techniques I use in photographing from the air is that I deliberately exclude the horizon from the photograph, not giving the viewer a point of reference, which I think strengthens the image in its own right.  I apply that both in nature and man-made landscapes.  I think we can introduce an element of abstraction in photography as painters have conditioned us to that point of view.  It is the painterly approach to photography that I pursue.”

Awards

2012   Order of Australia “For service to the arts as an Australian landscape photographer”

2005   Lotterywest ‘Inspirational West Australian’

2004   W.A. State Living Treasure Award, for his outstanding contribution to the visual arts, his skill, talent and intensity as a photographer and his original and awe-inspiring vision of the Australian landscape.

2002   ACMP Hall of Fame

1998   AIPP Honorary Life Member

1992   WA Canon Professional Photographer of the Year, Industrial category

1991   Fellow of the AIPP

1990, 1988, 1986 & 1984   WA Canon Professional Photographer of the Year, Landscape category

1982   IAP Professional Photographer of the Year

1982   Agfa Professional Industrial Photographer of the Year

1961   1st & 3rd prize – Craven “A” National Portrait competition

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Solo Exhibitions

2018 Woldendorp: A Black and White Retrospective, Mundaring Arts Centre, WA

2015 Out of the Blue exhibition, Linton & Kay Galleries, Perth WA

2009 to present Abstract Earth: Photography by Richard Woldendorp, toured in WA by Art on the Move: Goldfields Arts Cebtre, Kalgoorlie; Artgeo Gallery Busselton; Ellenbrook; Fremantle Prison; Denham; Wanneroo; Geraldton Regional Gallery; Katanning Gallery; WA Museum; Albany; Bunbury Art Gallery; Cannery Arts Centre, Esperence; Mandurah Art Gallery; Lake Grace; Narrogin; Carnarvon Art Gallery.

2012 Richard Woldendorp, Mezzanine Art at Darlington Dental, WA

2012 Coasts, Lakes & Deserts, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2010 Mezzanine Art VI, Darlington Hall, Darlington, WA

2010 WATERMARK, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2009 Abstract Earth: Photography by Richard Woldendorp, QUT Art Museum, Qld; NERAM, NSW; AGWA, Perth, WA; and Mandurah Art Gallery, WA

2008 Richard Woldendorp, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2008 Abstract Earth: Photography by Richard Woldendorp, S.H. Ervin, Sydney, NSW

2007 Saltworks, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2007 Richard Woldendorp, Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, Perth, WA

2006 Coastline, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2005 Richard Woldendorp, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2004 Down To Earth, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2001 Woldendorp In The Pilbara, The John Curtin Gallery, WA

1999 Down To Earth, Artplace Gallery, Perth, WA

1999 Hamersley Iron, Yandi, Hamersley Iron, Perth, WA

1999 Richard Woldendorp, Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, WA

1997 Photographs of Australia, Browsing Gallery, Penn State College, USA

1996 Landscapes Down Under, The Australian Embassy, Manila, Philippines

1995 Impressions of a Landscape, The Australian Embassy, Washington DC, USA

1991 Richard Woldendorp, Perth Galleries, Perth, WA

1990 Woldendorp, Photography Gallery, Santa Monica College, Pasadena, USA

1989 Australia: Impressions of a Landscape, Hotel Huis ter Duin, Noordwijk, Holland

1988 Australia: Impressions of a Landscape, Focus Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland

1988 An Approach To Landscape, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, NSW

1987 Land Down Under, The Fleischmann Planetarium, Reno, Nevado, USA

1987 Australia, The Untamed Land, The Western States Museum of Photography, Santa Barbara, California, USA

1987 Australia, Impressions of a Landscape, Art Gallery of WA, Perth, WA

1985 Richard Woldendorp, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, NSW

1984 Richard Woldendorp, The Camera As Explorer, Fremantle Art Gallery, Fremantle, WA

1983 Richard Woldendorp, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, NSW

1983 Richard Woldendorp, Greenhill Galleries, Perth, WA

1982 Richard Woldendorp, North Hobart Photographic Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania

1976 Colour & B/W Photographs by Richard Woldendorp, Gallery G, Perth, WA

1964 Richard Woldendorp, Triangle Gallery, David Foulkes Taylor, Crawley, WA

Group Exhibitions

2018 Relay, Midland Junction Arts Centre, Midland, WA

2012 Melbourne Art Fair, Boutwell Draper Gallery

2011 Stations of the Cross, Wesley Church, Perth, WA

2010 Group M, Photographs from 50’s & 60’s, New North Gallery, VIC

2010 Stormy Weather, National Gallery of Victoria, VIC

2010 Abstract Nature, Samstag Museum, Adelaide, SA

2010 Bushfire Australia, TarraWarra Museum of Art, VIC

2010 Cerebral Sanctum, Mundaring Arts Centre, Mundaring, WA

2010 Shire of Mundaring Art Acquisition, Mundaring Arts Centre, WA

2009 Skin Deep: The View From Above, Holmes a Court Gallery, Perth, WA (Joint exhibition with Hugh Brown)

2009 On Fire, Mundaring Arts Centre, Mundaring, WA

2008 The Master, Uno Volta, Monart Studio & Gallery, Perth, WA

2007 Saltwaterfreshwater, Central TAFE Art Gallery, Perth, WA

2007 Ingenuidades, Fotografia e Engenharia 1846 – 2006, Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal and Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium

2006 Floating, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

2005 Interesting Times – Focus on Contemporary Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW

2005 Extremes: Survival In The Great Deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, The National Museum of Australia, Canberra, ACT

2004 In A New Light – Australian Photography 1930’s-2000, National Library of Australia, Canberra, ACT

2004 The Masters, Monart Studio & Gallery, Perth, WA

2003 Mixed Tape, WA Art Gallery, Perth, WA

2003 Bushfire: Our Community Responds, National Gallery of Victoria, VIC

2002 Trans Positions, Perth Museum, Perth, WA (Travelled WA 2003-2004)

2001 Eco Logic, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, NSW

2000 Into the Blue, The Photography Gallery of WA, Northbridge, WA

1996 Mine Own Executioner, Mundaring Arts Centre, Mundaring, WA

1992 Landscape Photography, The Blaxland Gallery, NSW

1989 Picture This, The Old Courthouse, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, WA

1988 Diversity In Color Photography, Virginia Miller Galleries, Miami, Florida, USA

1986 Images of Fremantle, Fremantle Art Gallery, Fremantle, WA

1986 Western Australian Photographers 4, Art Gallery of WA, Perth, WA

1984 The View From Above, 123 Years of Aerial Photography, Photographers Gallery, London, UK

1983 National Photographic Exhibition, The Albury Regional Art Centre, Albury, NSW

1982 Landscape, Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria

1979 Western Australian Photographers, Art Gallery of WA, Perth, WA

1963 Urban Woman, Group M, Melbourne, WA

1961 Craven-A National Photographic Competition, Boans Claude Hotchin Gallery, Perth, WA

Public Collections