National Treasures Exhibit

(6.30pm, Muse Studio, 155 Little Oxford Street)

Thank you, Zac and hello, everyone. Happy Mardi Gras!

This is a wonderfully refreshing and mind-opening exhibition.

As Richard has so rightly said, the overwhelming public image of the LGBTI communities tend to be of "the young, fit and hedonistic", the so-called "beautiful people". And, as he also rightly points out, it's an image that only feeds into stereotypes, effectively pigeon-holing our wonderfully diverse community.

By focusing his lens on people over the age of 65, he drives a wedge into the stereotype, cracking it open and exposing our eyes and minds to the rich variety of human beings who are all part of our LGBTI communities.

It has an added dimension in that these are people of an age to have been born into the old stereotype, and to the marginalisation and repression, and who yet have gone on to lead full, rich and generous lives.

They are people who have taken part in the long struggle towards recognition and equality - not all of it over yet, but some significant victories won. Indeed, they are many of them people who have played a role in that struggle and so contributed in no small degree to the more diverse, accepting, and enlightened society we have today.

Their faces show the wisdom, humour and grace of people who know who they are, who are at peace with themselves and their place in society.

Their ease in front of the camera also suggests Richard's ability to connect directly with his subjects, to gain their trust so that each could be him- or herself in its gaze.

It's a wonderful exhibition - a remarkable follow up to last year's award-winning Toy With Me, also a Mardi Gras event.

It's beautiful, it's inspiring, and I also find it very moving and I commend it to you. I'm proud to declare it open.