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

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting





Simryn Gill

Singapore, Malaysia, Australia

1959 –

Artist profile

Alternate image of Vegetation by Simryn Gill
Alternate image of Vegetation by Simryn Gill
Alternate image of Vegetation by Simryn Gill
Alternate image of Vegetation by Simryn Gill
Alternate image of Vegetation by Simryn Gill
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    5 gelatin silver photographs
    An artist's proof from the edition of nine plus two artist's proofs
    124.0 x 129.5 x 6.5 cm (frame) :

    a - photograph, 95.4 x 101 cm, image

    a - photograph, 114 x 120 cm, sheet

    b - photograph, 95 x 102 cm, image

    b - photograph, 114.8 x 120 cm, sheet

    c - photograph, 95.1 x 101.2 cm, image

    c - photograph, 114 x 120 cm, sheet

    d - photograph, 95 x 101 cm, image

    d - photograph, 114.8 x 120 cm, sheet

    e - photograph, 96 x 101 cm, image

    e - photograph, 122.8 x 126.8 cm, sheet

    Gift of the artist 2005
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Simryn Gill

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Simryn Gill

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    These particular prints of 'Vegetation' are the large version of this series which were exhibited at the Asia Pacific Triennial in 1999. They are similar in scale to the series 'Forest' (1996-98) and have the same beautifully modulated tones of black through white. They also share the same sense of an immersive, enveloping landscape. In these works which were begun at a residency at Artpace in Texas, Gill begins the process of masking and disguising, of naturalizing human figures into the landscape (in this case herself) through obscuring their heads with fruit and vegetation, that was to be so important in her later bodies of work such as 'A small town at the turn of the century'.

    Curator Sharmini Pereira has written: "In this series of photographs, her self-portrait dominates but only as a stream of disguises involving plants in various geographic locations; tumbleweed and aloe in Texas, mangrove and black boy in Australia, and bird's nest fern in Singapore. The images bear an uncanny resemblance to a sequence of B-movie stills, where vengeful alien-plant-people threaten to over run the planet. Many Hollywood films have of course played out such narratives as a projection of Cold War anxieties fearful about the threat of Communist contamination. But if 'Vegetation' represents the future through some fear located in the past, it does so through a mimetic representation of the present…'Vegetation' parodies the camera's framing of today's culture contact.

    Beyond their still pathos, the enchanting appeal of these photographs lies in their somersaulting between the mythical moment of first contact and its reversal, which the mimetic moment of secondary contact ushers forth. The artist, "unrecognizable" in her jeans and desert boots and wearing her new plant hairstyle, lampoons the power of mimicry as a means of being both alien and indigenous at one and the same time. In as much as 'Vegetation' offers us the chance to poke fun at the natives, it is also an image of the new 21st-century native - able to deliver the laughs rather than be controlled by them. It is here that we observe the breadth of relief that resides in the welcome opportunity to view imitation as a way of moving beyond the imitated…" in 'Simryn Gill- Selected Work', AGNSW, 2002

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Landmarks, Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, Katoomba, 21 Jan 2017–19 Mar 2017

      Landmarks, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth, 09 Jun 2017–13 Aug 2017

      Landmarks, Murray Art Museum Albury, Albury, 29 Sep 2017–26 Nov 2017

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

    • Anthony Bond OAM (Curator), Landmarks, Katoomba, 2017, cover (illus.), 16 (illus.), 20. illustrations are of part c

    • Lilian Chee, Here art grows on trees: Simryn Gill, 'Picturing the Tropics Within', pg. 137-162, Sydney, 2013, 158 (illus.), 159 (illus.), 162-163 (illus.), 168, 278. illustrations of b, c, d

Other works by Simryn Gill

See all 26 works