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Simryn Gill uses an array of media - from plants, toys and books to other manufactured items - to create objects, photographs and installations that consider the complex nature of place. For her, photography is a means of describing the visual and theoretical questions she wishes to consider, and one which she has employed in various guises since the mid 1990s. At the heart of Gill's practice is a methodology that conceptualises the terms nature and culture as intertwined and permanently beguiling.

'Standing still' documents dilapidated buildings, deserted apartments, mansions and even mini-towns in Malaysia, some of which were abandoned after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The buildings are empty and decrepit; at times overgrown with so much greenery that they are indistinguishable from their surroundings. Life has left these structures and time is passing through them. Incongruously, however, it is the notion of 'stilled time' that is also encapsulated in the process of making this work because the saturated film Gill began using at the beginning of the project was discontinued. As she writes: 'This event - the film going extinct on me halfway through the work - embeds into the very substance of this series a sense that the time that we live in is falling into disrepair and decay even as we still actively occupy its present.'1 The typological grouping of buildings in 'Standing still' not only describes this paradox but also visually unites different signs of culture with the interminable fecundity of nature. Here, neither cultural nor natural paradigms can be easily categorised or demarcated because the passing of time forever marks their evolution.

1. Gill S 2004, ‚Standing still', Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne p 127

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007




Media category


Materials used

116 type C photographs




116 photographs: each 30.1 x 46.1 cm image; 42.1 x 48.1 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. verso each photograph, pencil "Simryn Gill/... /2000-2003/...".


Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2004


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Simryn Gill

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Natasha Bullock, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - place', pg.288-311, Sydney, 2007, 299 (colour illus.). illustration of parts aaaa and rrrr

Kate Bush, Artforum, 'Portfolio: Simryn Gill', pg.105-7, Feb 2003, (illus.). 8 images from the series

Walter Konig, Simryn Gill: Standing still, 2004, (illus.).

Catherine de Zegher, Here art grows on trees: Simryn Gill, 'At Home Between Dream Shells, Stardust and Shell Jetty No. 3 PD', pg. 35-94, Sydney, 2013, 56-63 (colour illus.), 151, 174, 276. illustrations of eight works from the series

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Simryn Gill/Matrix 210: Standing still, Berkeley, 2004, (illus.). 5 images from the series