Celebrating the legacy of Olegas Truchanas

Olegas Truchanas, Range upon range of mountains, south west Tasmania, c.1968. QVMAG Collection.

Image: Olegas Truchanas, Range upon range of mountains, south west Tasmania, c.1968. QVMAG Collection.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of photographer, conservationist and adventurer Olegas Truchanas.

Truchanas was born in Lithuania, and became a displaced person after World War II. In Tasmania he fell in love with the wild beauty of the place and embarked on many difficult solo expeditions.

He became the first person to navigate from Lake Pedder to Macquarie Harbour in a specially built canvas kayak, following the course of the Serpentine-Gordon Rivers.

He also made a solo ascent of the remote Federation Peak, and found and campaigned for the protection of a unique stand of Huon pines which now bears his name.

Truchanas was a key part of the campaign to save Lake Pedder from flooding by the Hydroelectric Commission, and although this campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it laid the groundwork for the later Gordon-Below-Franklin campaign.

Olegas Truchanas has left a unique legacy for Tasmania, and QVMAG is proud to be the custodians of his internationally significant collection of colour slides, photographs and archives.

QVMAG Senior Curator of History Jon Addison said when it comes to photographers who had an effect on Tasmania, few loom as large as Olegas Truchanas.

"It's not just the quality of his work, which is superb, but the impact that this work has had on later generations of photographers, activists and even politicians," Addison said.

"He is the model for future activist photographers, and his passion and aesthetic sense moulded how others saw and represented Tasmania's wild places.

“The 100th anniversary of Olegas Truchanas' birth is a significant occasion, and one worthy of celebration.

“Although his life was tragically cut short in a canoeing accident in 1972, the occasion of his birth gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of a man who achieved so much in so short a time.”

Truchanas' daughter Rima Truchanas said respect for the Earth and the future of our children is in our hands.

“Dad’s work strengthened resolve in emerging artists and activists, to give expression to the unique landscapes of Tasmania in the campaigns to preserve and protect diminishing wild places."

A new exhibition showcasing the life and work of Olegas Truchanas is in preparation at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery set for 2024, entitled This Vanishing World.

The exhibition will both look back at Truchanas' life and work, and will celebrate the impact that he had on future generations as a leader, inspirational figure and campaigner for the natural world.

Issued 22 September 2023.