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What's in a Surname?

Ken Leanfore's photographic portrait series explores the contemporary lives and identities of Chinese-Australians

What’s in a surname? is a photographic portrait series exploring multi-generational Chinese-Australian descendants living with unusual or Anglicised surnames.

Since the mid 1800s Chinese migrants, through personal choice or bureaucratic misstep, have found themselves living in Australia with names that often bear little relation to their origins. The change was perhaps a way to assimilate to a new community due to social pressure, or it was changed through bureaucratic administration.

Sydney photographer, Ken Leanfore (陳漢駒), himself a fourth generation Australian-Chinese has many stories to share about his unusual surname. The original migrant Charlie Lean-Fore (陳聯科), had his Cantonese first name phonetically translated into an Anglicised surname by NSW officials in the 1890s.

Realising his experiences weren’t exclusive, he was inspired to document other people within the Australian-Chinese community who have lived with the dichotomy between ethnicity and name.

This exhibition is supported by Australasian Art and Stageworks Inc.



Gallery Klei, Albion Place, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am to 6pm
Saturdays, 11am to 4pm

Friday 27 January to Friday 10 February 2017



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Hashtag: #whatsinasurname

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