(New Zealand, Australia 1945 – )
36.0 x 92.8 cm sight; 49.3 x 104.0 cm frame
‘We cannot see beyond our vision, axiomatically, and our vision imperial conquers all.’ Ian North 1992 1
Ian North is a photographer and painter who sometimes combines both mediums. He is also a widely published scholar and was the founding curator of photography of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 1980 to 1984. To his practice as an artist North thus brings a keen sensibility and theoretical awareness of photography and art history. One of his concerns has been with the legacy of the Australian landscape tradition, the impact of colonial narratives, their established visual conventions and, as a consequence, politics coupled with representing the subject.
His conceptual methodology is about how processes of vision and interaction have shaped the landscape. ‘Pseudo panorama, Australia III (A view of the artist’s house and garden in Mills Plain, Van Dieman’s Land)’ illustrates these ideas. North has assembled photographs into a formal picture plane resembling a sweeping panorama. Yet the effect is disingenuous for, as the title implies, the panorama is not as comprehensive as it may initially appear because paint has been applied to the photographic surface disrupting the picture’s view. The painted brushwork deliberately complicates the veracity of the photograph, while also adding texture and visual appeal. When colonial artists produced renditions of the Australian landscape their sight was obscured by romanticised ideals, and they saw a land with an imperialist gaze. North suggests this history by shaping the landscape anew. In his words: ‘These works … [link] … issues of ecology and colonialism by mimicking territorial conquest, without denying registers of aesthetic affect.’2
1. Sloan H 1992, ‘Southern crossings – empty land in the Australian image’, Camerawork, London p 61
2. ibid. Although both quotes relate to the ‘Pseudo panoramas Cazneaux series’ 1998, the intentions are comparable
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Natasha Bullock, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - place', pg.288-311, Sydney, 2007, 300 (colour illus.).
Pseudo Panoramas Australia, Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington, 1987–1987
Contemporary Colour Photographs from the Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 1991–22 Sep 1991