Born in Sydney, Fiona Hall trained in painting at the National Art School before travelling to London, where she worked as a photographic assistant 1977-78. After studying at the Visual Studies Workshop at Rochester, New York she gained a Master of Fine Arts (photography) in 1982. Returning to Australia in 1981, Hall undertook photodocumentary commissions on the CSR Photography project 1983 and the Parliament House Construction project 1984-6 while continuing to develop her interdisciplinary practice. She has produced a significant and diverse body of work exploring the complex entwinement of science, nature and culture.
The rich tones and fine detail of ‘Leura, New South Wales’ were made possible by Hall’s use of a large-format nineteenth-century view camera. The antiquated technology, once used by colonial photographers to document nature and the taming of the Australian landscape, here records instead the verdant foliage of a floral-patterned couch and carpet. Made at the beginning of Hall’s career, it demonstrates her burgeoning interest in the representation of nature. The relationship between humankind and nature and the symbolic role of the garden in western iconography has since been a recurrent theme in her work, which ranges across photography, sculpture and installation. ‘Leura...’ differs from Hall’s other photographs in that it documents a “found” object. Hall’s later works, such as ‘The Antipodean suite’ 1981 and her large-format polaroids of 1985, are of her own constructions and sculptures. Her ‘Paradisus terrestris’ series 1989-90, 1996, 1999, of aluminium repousse sculptures takes the garden of Eden as its subject and treats it as an Enlightenment florilegium, wherein nature is classified, ordered and labelled. This kind of botanical transcription, like photography, was the process through which the alien Australian landscape was ‘naturalised’ by its colonists – a process which Hall wryly comments on in this acutely observed encounter within a domestic interior.
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph
27.8 x 27.8 cm image; 40.5 x 30.3 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.c. verso, pencil "Fiona Hall/ ...1974".
Not on display
© Fiona Hall
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Contemporary Photography from the Collection (1984), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Jun 1984–12 Aug 1984
Ten years on, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jan 1986–Jan 1986
Flatlands: photography and everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013
Flatlands: photography & everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013
Referenced in 4 publications
Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Not 'simply' anything', pg.266-287, Sydney, 2007, 274 (illus.).
Julie Ewington, Fiona Hall, 'Seeing meaning, making meaning', pg.26-51, Annandale, 2005, 30, 31 (illus.). as 'Leura, New South Wales' 1974
Vigen Galstyan, Look, 'Infinite flatness: exploring the intangible', pg. 28-29, Sydney, Oct 2012, 28 (illus.), 29.
William Yang, Look, 'The art that made me', pg. 21-23, Sydney, Nov 2017-Dec 2017, 23 (colour illus.).