Helen Ennis is one of Australia’s leading photography curators, historians and writers.

She joined the Department of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia in 1981 and was Curator of International and Australian Photography at the National Gallery of Australia from 1985-92. She has extensive experience as an independent curator and writer specializing in the area of Australian photographic practice.

Her curatorial projects include Mirror with a memory: Photographic portraiture in Australia (National Portrait Gallery, 2000); a retrospective exhibition of Olive Cotton’s photographs (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2000); and the two-part exhibition In a New Light: Australian Photography 1850s-2000 (National Library of Australia 2003 and 2004). Her exhibition of the work of European émigré photographer Margaret Michaelis was shown at the National Gallery of Australia in 2005.

Helen’s publications include Olive Cotton (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2000), Man with a camera: Frank Hurley overseas (National Library of Australia, 2002), Intersections: Photography, history and the National Library of Australia (National Library of Australia, 2004) and the award-winning biography Margaret Michaelis: love, loss and photography (National Gallery of Australia, 2005). Her book Photography and Australia was published by Reaktion, London, in 2007.

In 2007 she curated Reveries: Photography and Mortality for the National Portrait Gallery and in 2008 curated A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer, 1850-1897 for the National Library of Australia.

Helen is a certified valuer for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Academic qualifications


B.A. Hons (Visual Arts), Monash University, Melbourne. Thesis topic ‘Photographic criticism, tradition and the photographs of Emmet Gowin