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Frederick H Evans

(England 1853 – 1945)

A sea of steps
Other titles:
The Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral England
Media category
Materials used
platinotype photograph

23.6 x 19.2 cm image/sheet; 44.5 x 34.3 cm board

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Sydney Camera Circle 1977
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Frederick Evans dedicated much of his time as a professional photographer to the documentation of architecture. In this pursuit he advanced the idea of a 'pure' (i.e. not retouched) photography. Adamant that great buildings, in particular cathedrals, could be photographed with a sense of transcendence, Evans spent days noting changes in light and atmosphere. 'A sea of steps' encapsulates many of his aesthetic concerns. The steps softly lit yet clearly articulated, cascade down and across the picture in a visual tension that ultimately leads the eye to the illuminated archway.

In writing about 'A sea of steps' in 1903 Evans noted:

The beautiful curve of the steps on the right is for all the world like the surge of a great wave that will presently break and subside into smaller ones like those at the top of the picture. It is one of the most imaginative lines it has been my good fortune to try and depict; this superb mounting of the steps…

Bibliography (4)

Judy Annear, Look, 'The Enigmatic Object - photography and the uncanny', pg.22-23, Heidelberg, Apr 1997, 23 (illus.).

Judy Annear, The Enigmatic Object, Sydney, 1997.

Jonathan Cooper, Onsight - The Expressive Image, Sydney, 1987, (illus.). 8

Vigen Galstyan, Look, 'Infinite flatness: exploring the intangible', pg. 28-29, Newtown, Oct 2012, 29 (illus.).

Exhibition history (5)

Onsight - The Expressive Image, Various venues, 12 May 1987–13 May 1988

International Photographs from the Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Jan 1991–14 Apr 1991

The Enigmatic Object, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Apr 1997–22 Jun 1997

Flatlands: photography and everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013

Flatlands: photography & everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013

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