More than a century before the word “selfie” was coined, Melbourne-born composer and pianist Percy Grainger was using photography to document his life in obsessive detail. The arranger of the famous Country Gardenshad a collection of photographs that includes approximately 15,000 images. A selection of these can be seen at a new exhibition titled Grainger: Public Facades and Intimate Spacesat the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, which explores the dichotomy between the professional studio images Grainger used to promote himself and the far more intimate, private photographs with which he recorded his personal life.

Grainger arrived in England in 1901 at the age of 19, quickly establishing himself as a pianist. Almost immediately, photography became an important part of his career. “This was at a time when photography had gone through some change, in the sense that the process that created firstly the negative, then the print from the negative, was made cheaper and much more accessible for a range of people,” says Brian Allison, who curated the exhibition. “That’s not to say Grainger didn’t go to quite expensive studios, but what it meant was there was a proliferation of images that hadn’t really been seen before – people suddenly...

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