For more than two decades Anne Ferran has considered the potential of photography to reflect on the past and trace presence through tangential means. From the early series ‘Carnal knowledge’ 1984 to ‘Scenes on the death of nature’ 1986 the condition of women and children, along with the abstract capacity of surface and texture to insinuate meaning, has characterised Ferran’s oeuvre. She belongs to a generation of photographers who came to prominence during the 1980s, questioning the role of the medium to articulate ideas beyond a relationship to ‘reality’, and who engaged more openly with theory and politics, together with feminism.
More recently, Ferran has looked at places specific to Australian colonial history where women have resided, including Rouse Hill House and Hyde Park Barracks. At Rouse Hill she made photograms of clothing, the haunting ethereality of the photogram technique tracing a past once personified, memories lost and invisible. ‘Ground at Ross 9’ considers analogous ideas but this time based on the Female Factories in Tasmania. The image is part of a larger series titled ‘Lost to worlds’ produced in response to two convict sites in Tasmania, at Ross and at South Hobart. In this large-scale black-and-white photograph the rising ground, texture of the grass, light and timbre of the work allude to a history that is scarcely perceptible. As Ferran writes:
Everything I saw and felt about these sites during those visits is present – whether visible or buried – somewhere in the work. Though its roots are in the past it is more truly about the here and now – about evidence, remembrance, disintegration, photography. If these sites make anything clear it is that a ruined past can never be made whole again. It can only be glimpsed, gestured towards, evoked, conjured, lost again’. 1
1. Ferran A 2001, artist's statement, 'Anne Ferran: Lost to Worlds', Stills Gallery, Sydney
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph
120.0 x 119.2 cm image; 140.9 x 122.5 cm sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by John and Kate Armati, Malcolm and Rhonda Rose 2002
Not on display
© Anne Ferran
Shown in 1 exhibition
Anne Ferran, Lost to Worlds, Stills Gallery, Paddington, 30 Jun 2001–21 Jul 2001
Referenced in 2 publications
Claire Armstrong, Art and Australia (Vol. 39, No. 3), 'Anne Ferran - seeing through appearances', pg.436-443, Sydney, Mar 2002-May 2002, 436-443.
Natasha Bullock, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - place', pg.288-311, Sydney, 2007, 298 (illus.).