‘Bondi: Playground of the Pacific, Bathers’ belongs to a series in which Zahalka explores and subverts the mythology and stereotypes that have evolved around Australia’s most famous beach. The Australian beach has long been regarded as a national symbol, signifying the apparently relaxed lifestyle of its white settler inhabitants. The majority of the images in this series incorporate painted backgrounds and some use appropriation.
This work directly refers to Charles Meere’s iconic painting ‘Australian beach pattern’ (1938–40). Zahalka has used the same composition as the painting and changed the characters to explore cultural diversity. By doing this, Zahalka was aiming to alter the stereotypical view of Australian culture, exploring its diversity and challenging traditional representations of the beach.
Anne Zahalka is one of Australia’s most highly regarded photo-media artists having exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas for more than thirty years. Her works are held in major public collections including National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australian Bicentennial Collection, Parliament House, Canberra, National Gallery of Victoria, Sir Elton John Collection, Deutsche Bank Collection, International Polaroid Collection, USA, and Visart, New York. She has been included in milestone international exhibitions such as a solo show at the Australian Embassy in Washington; Three Australian Photographers: Bill Henson, Tracey Moffatt and Anne Zahalka, at GEM/Fotomuseum in The Netherlands, Supernatural Artificial at the Chulalangkorn Art Centre in Bangkok, and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo.