We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Inquisition / five



Susan Norrie


01 Jul 1953 -

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    sepia toned gelatin silver photograph, fibre based paper, wood, lacquer and glass
    50.5 x 40.5 x 4.5 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1997
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Susan Norrie

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Susan Norrie

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Susan Norrie trained as a painter at the National Art School, Sydney and the National Gallery School, Melbourne. While painting is still one of her mediums, she has diversified and now works with prints, installations, objects, photographs and video. The highly glazed surfaces of her paintings in the late 1980s led her into working with reflections, and a play with mirroring. This in turn caused her to develop her ongoing interest in the still and moving image. Photography has informed the work of Norrie for many years, both the camera and the lens, the process of making an image, and the end product - the photograph. The chemical transformations of light on treated paper to form an image are aligned with alchemical transformations of matter - these transformations are central to the ideas which recur in Norrie's works.

    'Inquisition / five' 1996 was orchestrated by Norrie in collaboration with photographer Frances J. Melhop. Such collaborations with technicians and craftspeople have become increasingly important in the artist's work since the late 1980s as she assumes a directorial role rather than that of the lone artist. The object depicted within the box is ambiguous because of its scale, toning and presentation. It is a funerary ribbon wound around an object to keep it in order. The satiny nature of the ribbon, the shadows cast within the photograph, and the placement of the image with the sealed box suggest a mysterious reliquary which can not be fully grasped visually as well as physically.

    The word 'inquisition' refers to the artist's own enquiry into the nature and history of art but also implies the Spanish Inquisition. The ideas and practice of artists such as Goya and Velasquez also come to mind with their interest in the nature of the colour black, psychological insight into their sitters, and plays with mirrors. There are other references within this current body of work to nineteenth century funerary items such as black ribbons and beads, as well as to Dutch and Flemish alchemical transformations and recipes for these.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Susan Norrie

See more works