Narelle Autio’s The Summer of Us
25 March to 2 May 2009 Stills Gallery, NSW, Australia
Opening Sat 28 May 3-5pm
Since they were first exhibited at Stills Gallery in 2000, Narelle Autio’s vibrant and award-winning images of Australian coastal life have won her impressive national and international acclaim, as well as capturing the hearts and imaginations of viewers.
One of the beauties of her work is its ability to speak to speak to so many people about their own experience as coastal dwellers. The play of colour and light is magical too, giving the photographs a painterly quality that transcends usual depictions of the beach. Autio’s images give the coastline back the complexity, drama and beauty that are so easily eroded by postcards and clichés.
For her new body of work, The Summer of Us, Autio has returned to the ocean, but this time to the shore, to the natural and man-made remnants of long summer days; to a lone pink thong, the skeletons of sun hats and sand-crusted fish. Using large format film, Autio documents her finds, treating each with the same kind attention to detail. Thoughtlessly discarded by its owner, a bottle Reef Oil for example, is resurrected larger than life. Against a clean white background, the glossy promise of this product almost returns to its former glory, despite the all too familiar truth that applying sun lotion at the beach is a sand-caked and unglamorous affair.
Her collection of images introduces us to a lovely continuum existing between manufactured and natural, between ocean and land. Lost gloves slowly grow to resemble five fingered sea creatures and in turn lost sea creatures become curious objects when washed up on the shore. Autio’s appreciation for the power and the poetic transformations of the ocean is elegantly portrayed in these works.