Pinhead Mercury, from the series Celestial body model
Kate Robertson’s photographic practice is built around an attempt to visually transcribe the imperceptible and the invisible. In her own words, she is ‘interested in the idea of how a photograph can capture unseen things: the energy, temperature or external elements that surround a subject. How can you capture ways of being in a photograph?’ Her photographs flirt with abstraction and the disorientation of pictorial space.
The subjects depicted Robertson’s 2014 series Celestial body model are shallow and flat surfaces punctuated by small indeterminate objects like pins or seeds. These micro still life scenes confound our sense of material reality; we do not see the pins and the seeds but are lured into the illusion of depth and deep space. In Mustard Mars and Pinhead Mercury the microscopic and the macroscopic coalesce. These fields of softly shifting colour are both celestial maps and studies of domestic minutia. They question the veracity of the photographic document by examining the way form and composition can shape (or offset) our perception.
Robertson’s work is informed by the practices and ideologies of healing communities that are engaged with the natural environment. An understanding of the ethics and ideology of these communities emerges in Robertson’s photographic thinking through her sensitivity to the vagaries of sensory perception and her dedication to the contemplative image. She is particularly interested in the philosophical principles of deep ecology and the belief that psychological and spiritual misalignment is related to a state of disunity between an individual and the natural world. Robertson’s Celestial body model series is in part a response to her experience of a deep ecology workshop where participants walked through a scale model of the solar system that induced awareness of the vastness of space. Robertson cultivates the mindful observation that this philosophy demands through the photographic medium. She forces her viewers to slowly and closely interrogate the field of the image so they can may orient themselves.
gelatin silver photograph
1/3 + AP
49.5 x 39.0 cm image; 62.9 x 52.2 x 4.7 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Viktoria Marinov Bequest Fund 2016
Not on display
© Kate Robertson. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Celestial Body Model, Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne, 07 May 2014–31 May 2014
The alchemists: rediscovering photography in the age of the jpeg, Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington, 30 Oct 2015–06 Dec 2015
New matter - recent forms of photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Sep 2016–19 Feb 2017
Referenced in 3 publications
Katelyn-Jane Dunn, Common Ground Journal, Brisbane, 2014, Issue 2.
Martyn Jolly, Cherine Fahd and Suzanne Buljan, The alchemists: rediscovering photography in the age of the jpeg, Sydney, 2015, 49 (colour illus.).
Anabelle Lacroix, Celestial Body Model or Metamorphosis as the Base for Photography, Melbourne, 2014.