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Collection

Rick Harris

(Australia 1941 – Jul 1999)

Title
Untitled (house)
Year
1993
Media category
Photograph
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph
Dimensions

20.0 x 47.4 cm image; 22.0 x 48.8 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. verso, pencil "R. Harris '93".
Credit
Gift of the artist 1993
Accession number
319.1993
Location
Not on display
Further information

While having undertaken commercial photographic training and freelance work early in his career, Harris’s interest in pursuing a personalised account of his world led him to largely abandon his use of sophisticated photographic equipment in favour of a pinhole camera. The unhurried simplicity coupled with the peculiar effects of this approach appealed to Harris whose growing interest lay in revealing the instinctual and subjective aspects of photography, preferring ‘to rely on my mind instead of relying on optics’.1 In an interview Harris explained this further:
Photography is very mechanical: you use a machine, chemicals, technical devices. The human things should be in the taking of the photograph. Reality must be different for all of us. There is a conformist reality, but we all have our own personality. If you can convey the way you feel about what you’re photographing, that’s right.2

In ‘Untitled’ Harris offers a partial glimpse of a suburban house and its sheltered backyard, a scene somewhat familiar and mundane. The pinhole camera enhances this familiarity while transforming the details of the everyday. The two shadowy ends that enclose the image provide the viewer with a sense of proximity to both the scene and the pinhole camera which recorded it. It is this impressionistic and individual perspective that Harris shares with the viewer, not the visual facts of technical documentation.

1. 1976, ‘Camera & Cine’, Jul p 42
2. 1977, ‘Vogue’, Apr np

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Bibliography (1)

Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Magical realism', pg.226-245, Sydney, 2007, 245 (illus.).

Exhibition history (1)

Magical realism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 2006–02 Apr 2006