Ingeborg Tyssen arrived in Australia, from her native Holland, in 1957 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 in 1986 ‘the onomatopoeic nursery rhymes which initiated me, as a child, into the dark secrets of the European woods.’ Tyssen’s interest in photography emerged during travel undertaken in the 1970s, and on her return to Sydney she took a class with John F Williams. Influenced by his teaching, Tyssen began exhibiting her own photographs in 1975.
Tyssen’s work is distinguished by its particular intensity. Her earliest works were observational photographs of urban space that explored themes of isolation and dislocation. In particular she was preoccupied with sites of suburban pleasures like fun parks, pools and gardens and produced wry examinations of mundane scenes that implicate the comical and the poetic with the everyday. As critic Blair French noted in 2003, ‘the fascinating “strangeness” of vision in Tyssen's work suggests an authorial consciousness formed, in part, elsewhere and constantly seeking to rearticulate itself within a different world.’ Her oeuvre reflects on the difficulty of communication, while probing the expressive potential of photography as a site for critical engagement.
These tightly framed photographs of dense foliage possess a chromatic vibrancy that is not present in her delicate and spare black and white work. Here Tyssen photographs the landscape while denying the horizon line. All we see is a tangle of leaves and undergrowth and are given very few pictorial cues with which to orient ourselves in the landscape. The shallow space flattens perspective and induces a sense of claustrophobia that enhances the intensity of the composition.
type C photograph
25.3 x 25.5 cm image; 35.5 x 27.8 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. verso original mount, pencil "I. Tyssen". Not dated.
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989
Not on display
© Ingeborg Tyssen, 1986. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Contemporary Colour Photographs from the Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 1991–22 Sep 1991
Terrains, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Apr 1999–25 Jul 1999
Photography & place, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Mar 2011–29 May 2011
Referenced in 2 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Sandra Byron and Isobel Crombie, Twenty contemporary Australian photographers - from the Hallmark Cards Australian Photographic Collection, Melbourne, 1990, 51 (illus.).