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In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on 1 June. The Gallery will be observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Australian art


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Untitled (pedestal)



Christine Cornish


24 Jan 1946 -


Australian photographer Christine Cornish is concerned with the camera’s ability to redefine and reorient our perception of objects and space. While this conceptual preoccupation informed her interest in the still life genre and symbolic formalism from the late 1980s onwards, it is also present in her earlier work. Like the constructed scenes that feature in Cornish’s later work, where objects are masked and buried in the shallow space of the image, the subjects of these black and white photographs taken in the late 1970s and early 1980s also retreat from the viewer’s gaze. Whether it is the dense expanse of mangroves in Untitled (swamp) or the intersecting mass of foliage in Untitled (maple) Cornish deliberately obscures the legibility of the scene.

In other images Cornish uses the camera to document absence. Untitled (pedestal) and Untitled (plaque) depict objects and sites that are associated with rituals of remembrance. The stone pedestal, however, has been left bare and the commemorative plaque lies smashed on the ground. In these images the memorial has become a ruin. A similar melancholic sentiment is present in Untitled (bird statue); the statue of a cherub clinging to the neck of a swan becomes a tragic image set amidst a sea of dead lotus leaves. Cornish’s interest in the ruin and the memorial continued into her still life work and her investigation of the symbolic status of funereal objects.




Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned


11.7 x 17.5 cm image; 25.3 x 30.2 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. verso, pencil "Christine Cornish '79".


Gift of the artist 1982


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Christine Cornish

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Five years on: a selection of acquisitions 1981-1986, Sydney, 1986. 151