Ingeborg Tyssen arrived in Australia, from her native Holland, as a 12 year old and the photographs she made throughout her career convey the sense of loss and dislocation she experienced as a young immigrant. A non-English speaking child, she found that she had to leave behind not only her language, but, as she put it ‘the onomatopoeic nursery rhymes which initiated me, as a child, into the dark secrets of the European woods.’1 Many of Tyssen’s later works, such as ‘From the heart of the forest to the edge of the road’ 1984 and ‘The voice of silence’ series 1991-2, would examine these memories of European history, culture and language.
Tyssen took up photography in 1974 and graduated from Sydney College of the Arts in 1982. Her earliest works were quietly observed yet quirky studies of suburban pleasures in fun parks, pools and gardens. Tyssen’s 1984 series ‘From the heart of the forest to the edge of the road’ from which this image of Perisher Valley in the Snowy Mountains is drawn, explores more complex and personal themes. The gnarled and twisted trees present a very different reading of the Australian landscape to that of majestic gums and sunlit plains. These alpine panoramas manifest a European sensibility of the sublime in nature; of a darker twilit landscape that inspires awe, terror or transcendence. Indeed, Tyssen’s ‘Perisher Valley no 7’ is comparable to the German romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1822 painting, ‘The tree of crows’ in its depiction of an eerie landscape shaped by the forces of nature. These images gesture towards the ‘dark secrets’ of the European woods that Tyssen left behind.
1. Tyssen, I. quoted in Johnston, I. 1995, ‘Ingeborg Tyssen: twenty years of photography’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney p 3
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph
14.5 x 35.7 cm image; 30.3 x 40.1 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. verso, pencil "I Tyssen". Dated l.l. verso, pencil "...1984".
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989
Not on display
© Ingeborg Tyssen, 1984. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Referenced in 5 publications
Judy Annear, What is this thing called photography?, Sydney, 1999. no catalogue numbers
Sandra Byron and Isobel Crombie, Twenty contemporary Australian photographers - from the Hallmark Cards Australian Photographic Collection, Melbourne, 1990, 50 (illus.).
Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Not 'simply' anything', pg.266-287, Sydney, 2007, 283 (illus.).
Isobel Johnston, Ingeborg Tyssen - Twenty years on photography, Sydney, 1995. cat.no. 71
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Mar 2011, 26-27 (illus.).