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Fairy Bower Rorschach



Ben Quilty


01 Sep 1973 –

Alternate image of Fairy Bower Rorschach by Ben Quilty
Alternate image of Fairy Bower Rorschach by Ben Quilty
Alternate image of Fairy Bower Rorschach by Ben Quilty
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Robertson New South Wales Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on linen
    120.5 x 130.0 cm each panel; 241.0 x 520.0 cm overall
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased with funds provided by the Patrick White Bequest 2012
    Isaac Wakil Gallery
    Accession number
    © Ben Quilty

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Ben Quilty

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'Fairy Bower Rorschach' continues Ben Quilty's practice of oil painted Rorschach works where an original painted image is both damaged and duplicated by pressing one panel at a time onto another similar sized panel while the paint is still wet. Quilty refers to the Swiss psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach's ink blot tests - widely seen as pioneering contemporary mental illness therapy and medication at the beginning of the 20th century.

    The damaged and mirrored image is of a waterfall at Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales near where Quilty lives and works. Fairy Bower Falls is an idyllic and spectacular destination for tourists and locals. Photographs from the mid 19th century depict the full colonial splendour of women with parasols and men in top hats at the foot of the falls.

    Fairy Bower Falls is also reputedly the site of a massacre of scores of Aboriginal people in the early 19th century. Although there are no written records there has been a strong oral history of such an event handed down amongst locals.

    By Rorschaching this image of such a precarious site Quilty asks the viewer to reconsider their conception of this landscape as a place of idyllic beauty. The duplication and damage of the image echoes the disturbing and violent history this site may have witnessed. This work continues Quilty's exploration of Australian identity and history.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 8 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Ben Quilty

See all 15 works