MMXVII Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm X 80cm Edition of 9 (2AP)

Every year I photograph Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio.

Each portrait is taken under similar conditions.  In a sense these portraits are snapshots of the relationship between photographer and artist’s muse and they continue to track the development of this young man. 

MMXVII marks the 10th portrait and the 10th year of this ongoing series.  That’s a decade!

How time flies……….

The complete sequence can be seen at…/annual-matthew-mitcham-portraits/

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact: John McRae mb: 0419 619 161 e: w:




I wish everyone a really successful and fun filled 2018.


Well I’ve made a few of those “New Year Resolutions”….one of them is to be more active on this blog and on social media.   I petered out somewhat towards the end of last year, but I am picking up the ball again and here’s to a more regular blog entry.


In fact, I am very positive about this year.  It’s going to be a good one….I feel it in my waters (don’t you hate that expression?).   I am looking forward to working again with my fantastic clients and to see what surprises are in store, what we can create together this year.  New clients I haven’t worked with yet….I look forward to meeting you.




Matt struts “the boards” again with his new show, “Under the Covers”.

These days, Matt has traded the diving board for another kind of “board”, the boards of the stage, as they say.  I had the pleasure of shooting some production shots at the dress rehearsal and performance of the latest addition to his cabaret repertoire.

Under the Covers has been created by the same team who devised Matthew’s previous multi-award-winning musical comedy, Twists & Turns, namely Matthew together with award-winning director Nigel Turner-Carroll and international cabaret sensation Spanky (aka Rhys Morgan), with accompaniment by Matthew Ogle.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself while shooting this brand new, sparkling, feel-good production.  Matt’s talent is seemingly limitless.  At times, it was difficult to keep focus on the job at hand. I found myself caught up in the jokes, the songs, the clever parody between the two main protagonists and the general infectious sense of fun.  

However…. I concentrated on getting the shots and decided to return another time to sit back and be entertained as one of the punters in the seats.

Here are some of the shots taken at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney in mid-September. If you want a good night out, check the performance schedule, and go to see Under the Covers. It will put a smile on your face.

Behind the scenes in the dressing room before the show……..


Written by Matthew Mitcham and Nigel Turner-Carroll

Director –  Nigel Turner-Carroll

Musical Director –  Andrew Bevis

Choreographer –  Holl Sheils

Lighting Designer –  Kym Halpin

Production Manager –  Lachlan Fletcher

Performed by –  Matthew Mitcham, Matthew Ogle, Rhys Morgan


I am pleased to announce that GENIUS People Magazine in Italy has published an article about my ongoing Spot The Arab project, aligned to my exhibition at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea in Rome.

GENIUS People Magazine is a topical, bilingual publication based in Trieste in northern Italy, appearing both on-line and in print form, guided by Editor-in-Chief Francesco La Bella, and Project Manager Mariaisabella Musulin. It focuses primarily on contemporary arts and culture.  

Click on the following link to read the article, written by Jonathan Turner:



After spending almost a month in Europe working on various projects, I flew into Sydney a few days ago.  I seem to be more jet-lagged than I can remember previously, waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling that there is some kind of grey veil over my brain.  In contrast, on the way over to Rome via Abu Dhabi, I experienced almost no jet lag and I was firing on all cylinders the very next day. They do say that jet lag is always worse in one of the directions….I can’t remember which one, but from this experience, I would have to say it’s going from East to West!

The time away was well spent.  In fact it was amazingly spent!

Firstly, my exhibition, “Spot The Arab”,  at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea in Rome (see previous “blog” entries further down this page) was extremely well-received.  I would like to thank Giuliano and Bruno, the two directors of the gallery, for their support and creativity in making the event such a resounding success. Who would have thought….an exhibition about prejudice and stigma, using the stereotypes of what an Arab looks like, staged in the Jewish Ghetto, in the home of the Catholic Church, staged by an Australian photographer. Anything is possible!

Jonathan being extravagant on the streets of Rome during the Pride March.

A big thank you to Jonathan Turner, my host in Rome. He is not only is an amazing curator and art critic (his input to my exhibition in terms of providing advice and various writings was critical to its success), but also the most generous and welcoming friend and host. He is also an accomplished cook and I was privileged to eat at one of the best tables in all of the Eternal City.

View from Jonathan’s terrace, Trastevere.
Jonathan serving one of his delicious pastas….

Next, I flew from Rome to Israel.  I was asked to stage a fashion shoot as a practical pre-text to get me to the Holy Land.  I shot for Refael, a stylish fashion boutique in one of the swanky parts of Tel Aviv. The shoot went very well and everyone was happy, including the designer, the model and the stylists.

The rest of the time I spent visiting parts of Tel Aviv (including a day splayed out on the wonderful beach that stretches the length of the city) and then Jerusalem and the Old City.  I have visited Jerusalem before…but I never tire of the magic of this city and always try to make a point of wandering its streets and market place.  A trip to Israel wouldn’t be complete without a meal along the sea-front at the old port of Jaffa, where the appetizers are brought out almost the instant you sit down, filling the table with all varieties of middle-eastern delights.  I am always completely entertained by the voracious efficiency of the waiting staff, darting backwards and forwards at lightening speed, clearing the dishes from an entire table of 6, plates and glasses stacked and piled in the air, in one go!  A big thank you to my host, Nitzan whose generosity abounds, as well as my dear friends Fabien  and Refael, who made my stay such a wonderful and enriching experience.

Sums it up really…….
Nitzan, Tel Aviv
The “souk” in the Old City of Jerusalem

Nitzan, Tel Aviv
Fabien lights a candle in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After pigging-out on 5 days of hummus, I flew back to Rome for some more Insalata Caprese which, by the way, I can never get enough of. It doesn’t get much better than fresh, delicious Italian tomatoes, fresh basil, the most superb mozzarella di bufala from Naples, drenched with virgin olive oil.  I think everyone, including Jonathan, was over my obsession with this dish by the end of my stay.

Marvic eyeing off the Porchetta

Dinner with friends

My exhibition is still running and I was asked to speak at a gallery visit organised by Giuliana Stella, an eminent art critic, curator and educator. This went very well. It was interesting for me to be able to interact with students from the Academy of Fine Arts and and members of the public, answer questions and hear thoughtful statements relating to my work.  A big thank you to Giuliana for organising this event.

Giuliana pictured addressing the students

Finally, the end of the trip was approaching.  I hurriedly made sure I had seen the most important things on my list.. .this included a visit to Naples and Pompeii….incredible!  A quick trip to London to catch up with old friends….thank you Fadi. 

Typical London….

And during the final week, the chance to meet up with more acquaintances from Italy, Scotland, Bosnia, Spain, Palestine, Canada and old friends who flew in from Malta and beyond. Thank you Marvic, Davide and Roderick.

Sundown over the Colosseum with friends

Finally, a big thank you to all the people who welcomed me with such goodwill and openness during my travels and who contributed to the joys of the whole experience from start to finish.  You know who you are.  I also appreciate all my friends and clients here in Australia who I may have inconvenienced through my lack of presence over the past month.  Thanks for waiting and allowing me the time.  

I’m back and ready for the next chapter……


My bags are packed and I’m sitting on the sofa, waiting for the taxi to take me to Fumincino where I will board my return flight to Sydney via Abu Dhabi.

What a wonderful stay in the Eternal City! 

A huge thank you to all the people and friends that made this trip such a wonderful experience from start to finish.  I promise to pass on all the goodwill and love that was so freely shared with me, to the people I meet along my continuing travels.

Until the next time take care Roma!


London on a good day – stunning weather

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit London.

I visited some of the iconic landmarks in  this grand lady’s cache….always impressed by the constant reminders of my Australian culture’s roots.  I always felt some of these elements were so out of place in the hot desert-like climate of my childhood (the carefully manicured botanical gardens devoid of native plants, for example), but seeing all this “English” in the climate, light and environment it evolved in suddenly made a lot more sense to me.

Sadly, the events on the Tower of London took place during my stay.  Long live London!

Contemplating London….

FLOOR TALK – Arabs in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome

Jonathan Turner, Giuliana Stella and the students of the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma

On May 30, John McRae presented his Spot The Arab exhibition to a group of art and architecture students from the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma. He gave a floor talk about his working methods and his subject matter to 50 students attending the courses of Allestimento Spazi Espositive (Exhibition Space Design) and Metodologia della Progettazione (Project Methodology), under the tutelage of Professor Giuliana Stella. Australian curator Jonathan Turner then gave a tour of the large-scale Blow-Up exhibition at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, also in the company of Rome’s leading pulp fiction novelist Pier Francesco Grasselli (Ho Scaricato Miss Italia, and All’Inferno ci vado in Porsche).

Pier Francesco Grasselli, Author


I just spent four days in Tel Aviv, working on a photoshoot for the upcoming Refael Boutique, focused on creating a new portfolio of images capturing contemporary womens fashion, combining style and minimalism with a flamboyant edge. Together with rising star Refael and stylist Oded, and the young Israeli model, Hannah, we shot a sequence of studio interiors and street scenes under the midday sun.

REFAEL BOUTIQUE       Dizengoff 218, Tel Aviv

Rafeal Ivzi (Private Collection)

“Spot the Arab” Opening, Rome 2017

A historical survey of international photography, featuring the work of John McRae.


Staged in the prestigious Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea in the centre of the ancient city of Rome, Blow-Up is a review of a century of image-making, studying the innovations and dynamic nature of photography. Organized to coincide with the 2017 Venice Biennale, the Rome exhibition is entitled Blow-Up after the classic 1966 film by Michelangelo Antonioni, in which a photographer believes he has unwittingly captured a murder with his camera, in an ambiguous image lurking at the edge of the frame. The exhibition, curated by Giuliano Matricardi, also traces more than 20 years of the gallery’s activity in research in contemporary photography.

Blow-Up includes important photograph-based works by Nobuyoshi Araki (Japan), Matteo Basilè (Italy), David Byrne (USA), Erwin Blumenfeld (Germany), Sylvie Fleury (France), Thomas Glassford (UK), Nan Goldin (USA), Matthias Herrmann (Austria), Fritz Kok (Netherlands), Myriam Laplante (Bangladesh/Canada), John McRae (Australia), Francesca Martì (Spain), Tracey Moffatt (Australia), Erwin Olaf (Netherlands), Dino Pedriali (Italy), Maria Pizzi (Italy), Katharina Sieverding (Germany), Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia), Inez van Lamsweerde (Netherlands) and Baron Wilhelm Von Gloeden (Germany). This multi-layered exhibition runs through mid-September, 2017.

The exhibition opening on May 18, 2017, was attended by many local and international figureheads, including artists (Francesco Impellizzeri, Myriam Laplante, Francesca Marti’, Jebila Okongwu, Maria Pizzi, Renato Grome, Francesca Tulli), collectors and journalists, as well as Roman nobility, designers, curators (Achille Bonito Oliva, Gianluca Marziani, Giuliana Stella, Jonathan Turner, Luca Barreca), the fashion crowd and many of McRae’s friends from Italy, Spain, Malta, Scandinavia, Australia and beyond (Laura D’Ambra, Stefano d’Argenzio, Federico Assenza, Marvic Camilleri, Chiara Cavarra, Stefano Cigada, Salahuddin Khan, Lorenzo Logi, Vittorio Mango, Maria Antonia Oliver, Vincenzo Persi, Rosa Purchas, Simona Rossi).

The exhibition features a solo show by Sydney artist John McRae. His ongoing “Spot the Arab” series, one work of which is currently hanging in the contemporary portraiture show at the Australian National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, is a suite of photographs exploring the stereotypes and prejudices of our attitudes towards Muslims today, McRae’s portraits are accompanied by a critical text by curator Jonathan Turner, who has regularly worked with McRae for the past decade. This is McRae’s fifth exhibition at Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, the show is organized with the support of the Australian Embassy in Rome.

In Blow-Up, Francesca Marti’ is represented by two works: a diptych of black-and-white photographs of Cuban landscapes in torn canvas frames from her Tears series, and a new photograph from her series Cities in a Crooked Line showing a street-scene in Saigon, printed on zinc plate, then partly crushed. Tracey Moffatt, who has been selected as the artist in the Australian Pavilion at the 2017 Biennale di Venezia, is represented in Blow-Up by three older photographs. Meanwhile, a series of vintage prints by Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (1890s), Erwin Blumenfeld (1940s), and from Dino Pedriali (1970s), includes Pedriali’s quartet of cultural figureheads: black-and-white portraits of dancer Rudolf Nureyev, sculptor George Segal, film director PierPaolo Pasolini and artist Andy Warhol. 

A section of the Blow-Up show is dedicated to photo-based works by eight women artists from the stable of Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, all of whom have been featured in previous editions of the Venice Biennale.

Sylvie Fleury (France – Aperto, 1993 Venice Biennale)

Nan Goldin (USA – Real Venice, 2011 Venice Biennale)

Inez van Lamsweerde (Netherlands – Rietveld Arsenale, 2009 Venice Biennale)

Myriam Laplante (Bangladesh/Canada – Fondazione Bevilaqua La Masa, 2001 Venice Biennale)

Tracey Moffatt (Australia – Aperto, 1997 Venice Biennale, and Australian Pavilion, 2017 Venice Biennale)

Francesca Marti’ (Spain – Venice International Experimental Film and Performance Art Festival, 2015 Venice Biennale)

Katharina Sieverding (Germany – 1976 and 1980 Venice Biennales)

Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia – Dreams and Conflicts curated by Francesco Bonami, 2003 Venice Biennale)

Il Ponte Contemporanea

Via Beatrice Cenci 9 / 9 A,

00186, Roma Italia

tel. +39 06 68 33 897

The exhibition runs through mid-September, 2017.