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Australian art


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Bush Relevance Series 5



Ingeborg Tyssen

Netherlands, Australia

1945 - 09 Oct 2002


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.

These tightly framed photographs of dense foliage possess a chromatic vibrancy that is not present in her delicate and spare black and white work. Here Tyssen photographs the landscape while denying the horizon line. All we see is a tangle of leaves and undergrowth and are given very few pictorial cues with which to orient ourselves in the landscape. The shallow space flattens perspective and induces a sense of claustrophobia that enhances the intensity of the composition.




Media category


Materials used

type C photograph


25.3 x 25.5 cm image; 35.5 x 27.8 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r. verso original mount, pencil "I. Tyssen". Not dated.


Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1989


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Ingeborg Tyssen

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Sandra Byron and Isobel Crombie, Twenty contemporary Australian photographers - from the Hallmark Cards Australian Photographic Collection, Melbourne, 1990, 51 (illus.).