Published by: Events | 11-Nov-2019
Scenes from the People's Paradise - Pyongyang' is a rare and fascinating glimpse into the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) - the so-called Hermit Kingdom - from intrepid world traveller and Melbourne-based photographer Nicole Reed.
Venue: aMBUSH Gallery Kambri
Address: Cultural Centre Kambri, ANU Building 153, L2, Acton ACT, just above Harry Hartog Booksellers.
Date: 15 November - 1 December
Time: Showing daily from 10am-6pm weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends
Ticket: Admission is free and all artworks are for sale
Shot over the course of five days in early 2019, the resulting works provide an intriguing display of the architecture and people in one of the world's most secretive cities.

Opening at aMBUSH Gallery Kambri on 15 November, the collection of over 30 photographs were taken during downtime, when Nicole was on assignment shooting a series of hotels in Pyongyang for an upcoming print publication.

Seeking inspiration in one of her interests - architecture - Reed set out to explore the capital city of the DPRK from the perspective of a non-judgemental newcomer. Even with her firmly established reputation for capturing unique experiences and extraordinary atmospheres in countries across the globe, Nicole admits that the scenes in the DPRK were like nothing she had ever witnessed.

"You're met by your guide at the security desk at the airport, and your passport is taken away and not given back until you leave. It's actually strangely relaxing because you don't have to think for yourself, or organise your meals, or talk to anyone without your translator. And there's absolutely no contact with the outside world - no phone, no Internet. Which means no-one can contact you either!" she explains.

Accompanied by a translator, Nicole was under strict rules about where she could go, what she could see, what she was allowed to photograph, and was unavoidably aware of the large military presence in the city. Nonetheless, she felt comfortable and safe.

"I didn't even think about safety the whole time I was there. Everything was very structured. There's really not much chance of you getting into trouble if you follow the rules," she said.

Though her professional body of work for clients spans a range of subject matters - from people to furniture to landscapes - it has always retained a patently artistic feel, which is evident in Nicole's images of the majestic and imposing buildings of Pyongyang.

Entire streets are filled with distinctive sporting stadiums, with the architecture often based on the sport it was built for - curved outlines for the weightlifting arena and a net-like shape for the table tennis stadium being just two of the many idiosyncratic buildings.

City streets and the train station also proved fertile ground for Nicole's talent at conveying emotion and cultural significance via a single moment in time. Through her lens, a tableau of daily life in the DPRK has an ethereal, almost surreal and painterly ambiance.

'Scenes from the People's Paradise - Pyongyang' aims to evoke a sense of place and mood that can be shared with a wider audience who would otherwise be oblivious to these spectacular and guarded settings.

Adding additional elements to the exhibition are a soundtrack and video projection, both of which will be on a loop and provide an authentic backdrop to the photographs as visitors wander through the gallery.

The soundtrack is a mixed tape of songs including one that's played every morning in Pyongyang at 6am to encourage the workers. The projection has snippets of life recorded by Nicole as she walked around the city, including the Socialist Women's Union of Korea, a group of housewives who perform a riveting routine with large red flags.

Nicole's photographs have been printed on aluminium, giving them an expansive and luminous feel that does justice to the enormous scale of the panoramas she captured.

'Scenes from the People's Paradise - Pyongyang' is curated and presented by aMBUSH Gallery Kambri, with opening night on Friday, 15 November featuring a VIP hour from 5:00-6:00pm, after which it will be open to the general public from 6:00-8:00pm.

Drinks from Capital Brewing Co. will be served, with live music from DJ Mia Sørlie. The gallery is located in the Cultural Centre Kambri, ANU Building 153, L2, Acton ACT, just above Harry Hartog Booksellers.

On Saturday, 16 November, Nicole Reed will be in the gallery from 1:00-2:00pm to participate in an Artist Talk. This event is free of charge to the public.

The exhibition will then run until Sunday, 1 December, showing daily from 10am-6pm weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends. Admission is free and all artworks are for sale, with the option of a fine art print of the works displayed on aluminium, if preferred.

Visit for more information, and look for aMBUSH Gallery on Facebook and Instagram for exhibition updates.

About Nicole Reed

Nicole Reed is a Melbourne-based, award-winning photographer for whom photography is more than just a career - it's a way of life. Her portfolio spans editorial, documentary, architectural and portrait photography, with a fine art aesthetic evident in all her work. Portraits of high-profile names and faces jump out of Nicole's portfolio and she has established a reputation for not only capturing her sitter's personal style and image, but also for offering a deeper portrayal of humanity within each of her subjects. Nicole has a niche talent for capturing urban environments. Her documentation of urban sprawl and abandon demonstrates her talent for social commentary and her innate ability to observe beauty in places overlooked by the untrained eye. Capturing urban environments across the globe, including Indonesia, Japan, USA, China, Europe, North Korea and her backyard of Australia, Nicole's images stir up contrasting emotions - a sense of mourning and, at the same time, celebration of what these places once were.

About ANU Kambri

Kambri at ANU is the new precinct hub of this world-leading university. Located in Australia's capital city, Canberra, their strong ties to the local area are reflected in the gifting of the name 'Kambri' by elders from the ACT's four Indigenous communities. The Kambri precinct will be known as a hub for innovation and knowledge, while also providing a welcoming space for the greater Canberra community to gather. Facilities and services include; a multi-storey medical centre, 24-hour pool, and gymnasium; a culture and events building hosting theatre, concerts and functions; a unique laneway and lawn retail experience with dozens of independent food and beverage operators, plus abundant greenscapes where students, staff, families and city workers alike can relax, reflect and be inspired. Kambri's year-round calendar of events and activations ensure it offers an engaging and eclectic environment, delivered with a village atmosphere.

About aMBUSH Gallery

aMBUSH Gallery - an initiative of Wiltshire + Dimas - is an award-winning art gallery, social enterprise and creative placemaking business that thrives on operating outside the parameters of a traditional gallery. They curate and produce arts and cultural activities both in Australia and overseas, with a program of site-specific, project-based art activations stemming from a unique fusion of philanthropic and commercial impulses that engage and entertain audiences, provide sustainable futures for artists, and establish a strong presence for their clients. Their newest exhibition space at the ANU's new Kambri campus is a modern, world-class facility renowned for its focus on innovation and excellence. The intention for Kambri is to become an inclusive cultural space for local and international artists, and to bring together a diverse range of great artists, thinkers, and makers; an aim that fits perfectly with the aMBUSH Gallery ethos.

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