Solace in the (art) skies…

My brain is on overdrive at the moment processing my dislocated existence in a new country, new city, new workplace and new home, with new colleagues and new friends, and a PhD to finish, which is so near to completion. Here are two Australian artists who have provided me with solace in amongst this chaos…artists I discovered during a whirlwind gallery tour in Melbourne’s CBD last Saturday afternoon (that I will eventually blog about).

I dedicate this blog post to two people, best friends, two nomads in life who fight for freedom on the land whilst looking to the skies. Nick and Ollie, this is for you…and may you find that freedom again soon.

The first is Murray Fredericks – a photographer and documentary artist – who creates truly awe-inspiring time-lapse landscape photographs reflecting a distinct isolation and relationship to empty space. I came across their grandeur in ARC ONE Gallery where Director, Fran Clark, gave me an introduction to the space and the stores. Two of Murray’s works punched into the room, one of which you can see below…


His first documentary film ‘SALT’ (2009) was recommended to me…a trailer is shown below the two images. A 28 minute documentary film shot over many years at Lake Eyre in Central Australia, it made its debut at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2009. It follows Murray’s journeys, over fifteen often month-long journeys, to the centre of the Lake to produce his ‘SALT’ (2009) photographic series. I’m trying to get my hands on a copy of the film to watch…

‘SALT 400’ by Murray Fredericks, 140cm x 255cm, Digital Pigment Print on Cotton Rag, Edition of 7. Image © the artist.
‘SALT 300’ by Murray Fredericks, 120cm x 250cm, Digital Pigment Print on Cotton Rag, Edition of 7. Image © the artist.

The second is Cameron Robbins – an artist and musician who works with raw power of nature and landscape. His piece ‘Anemograph’ (2014) documents the artist’s use of a wind powered light drawing machine on a windy mountain top in southeastern Australia. ‘Anemographs’ is a compound of the Hebrew term for truth and the Greek for recording instrument.

“A different kind of portable wind drawing machine : drawing with light. Transported to special locations, on top of a mountain (Mt McKay, southeastern Australia), responding to wind speed and direction in the landscape. A small incandescent bulb responds to the wind energy, describing loops and arcs against the night sky and captured by long exposure photography.” – Cameron Robbins

The drawing light machines are constructed from LED lights appended to a wind-propelled mechanical arm. This ‘produces agitated overlapping lines whose nocturnal coursings captured through time-lapse photography and transformed into fiery ribbons of light.’ (Frieze review, July 2016, Sophie Knezic).

“On the one hand, the artist’s works are fine-tuned apparatuses that neutrally record the earth’s restlessness; on the other, the artist’s own orientation to the attenuated nature of the drawn line means these registrations devolve into something we can unequivocally call drawing. In other words, Robbins’s instruments allow the world to draw itself.” –  Sophie Knezic

‘Anemograph’ (2014) by Cameron Robbins, 1.6m x 1m, c-type print on rag paper. Image © the artist.

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