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The Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) in Melbourne has appointed Adam Harding as its new director. Community engagement and artists having a voice are two CCP strengths Harding is keen to continue.

Harding, who grew up in suburban Melbourne, starts at the CCP in Fitzroy on 17 September, replacing Naomi Cass, who has led the centre for 14 years.

“The CCP has some really amazing momentum at the moment and I think the team is really engaged,” Harding tells Art Guide Australia. “I’m really excited to work with them and expand what people think of as lens-based art. There’s a richer materiality to it that people are understanding, which harks back to traditional practice, but also is connected to every element of our life at the moment.”

Among Harding’s first priorities will be getting to know the CCP team and sifting through artists’ entries from the recently closed submission process.

Starting his career at the Geelong Art Gallery in 1998, Harding most recently has spent 11 years at the Horsham Regional Art Gallery in Victoria’s Wimmera region, the past nine years as its director. During this time, he has built up a significant photography collection at the Horsham gallery, particularly work by First Nations photographers. Recent acquisitions there include works by James Tylor, Kent Morris and Destiny Deacon.

“One of the artworks I’m most proud of in the Horsham collection is Tracey Moffatt’s self-portrait; her coloured photograph of her holding her camera with a desert background,” says Harding. “She’s wearing sunglasses and the Indigenous flag is reflected in her glasses. I love going up to look at it.”

Having previously presented CCP touring work at Horsham, Harding is keen to ensure that CCP artists’ photography and videos can continue to tour regionally and to other cities outside of the “great space” in George Street, Fitzroy.

He loves the ideas behind photography and is a “sucker for design,” both of which he says still stand out in an era in which we are awash with images and almost everyone has a camera on their phone.

“You can still be stopped in your tracks when you see a beautifully made photograph or video,” he says. “I think we know more about photography than we did; the general audience knows more than we give them credit, too.” Harding doesn’t call himself a photographer, although he does have an Instagram account.

Despite Australia Council funding cuts having had an impact on many organisations, including the CCP in recent years, Harding is confident that the not-for-profit centre is in a “great position to really commit to its program.” There are many people who want to support it, he says.

When asked if he could see himself at the helm of CCP for 14 years, like Naomi Cass, he laughs. “I’ve been in Horsham for 11 and director for nine, so we’ll see how we go with that.”

Steve Dow