Ingeborg Tyssen arrived in Australia, from her native Holland, in 1957 as a 12 year old and the photographs she made throughout her career convey the sense of loss and dislocation she experienced as a young immigrant. A non-English speaking child, she found that she had to leave behind not only her language, but, as she put it in 1986 ‘the onomatopoeic nursery rhymes which initiated me, as a child, into the dark secrets of the European woods.’ Tyssen’s interest in photography emerged during travel undertaken in the 1970s, and on her return to Sydney she took a class with John F Williams. Influenced by his teaching, Tyssen began exhibiting her own photographs in 1975.
Tyssen’s work is distinguished by its particular intensity. Her earliest works were observational photographs of urban space that explored themes of isolation and dislocation. In particular she was preoccupied with sites of suburban pleasures like fun parks, pools and gardens and produced wry examinations of mundane scenes that implicate the comical and the poetic with the everyday. As critic Blair French noted in 2003, ‘the fascinating “strangeness” of vision in Tyssen's work suggests an authorial consciousness formed, in part, elsewhere and constantly seeking to rearticulate itself within a different world.’ Her oeuvre reflects on the difficulty of communication, while probing the expressive potential of photography as a site for critical engagement.
In these panoramic landscape photographs the pull of the horizon dominates the composition. The scenes are still and empty, dominated by an imposing sense of quietude. While there are no figures in the photographs, traces of human presence remains; a circular wooden fence or a gnarled piece of barbed wire. All of Tyssen’s work is informed by her deep empathy to the peculiarities of place and culture and in these works, in particular ‘Tucki Tucki, NSW’, she photographs sites that have a resonant spiritual significance for the local indigenous community. Shot on a Widelux camera, these photographs are marked by the optical distortion that the swing lens precipitates.
gelatin silver photograph
14.5 x 35.7 cm image; 30.3 x 40.2 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. verso, pencil "I Tyssen". Dated l.l. verso, pencil "...1984".
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989
Not on display
© Ingeborg Tyssen, 1984. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Sandra Byron and Isobel Crombie, Twenty contemporary Australian photographers - from the Hallmark Cards Australian Photographic Collection, Melbourne, 1990, 50 (illus.).
Isobel Johnston, Ingeborg Tyssen - Twenty years on photography, Sydney, 1995. cat.no. 72
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994.