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


By the sea



Todd McMillan


1979 –

Alternate image of By the sea by Todd McMillan
Alternate image of By the sea by Todd McMillan
Alternate image of By the sea by Todd McMillan
  • Details

    Media category
    Time-based art
    Materials used
    16mm transferred to single channel digital video, colour, silent
    duration: 00:01:12 min continuous, aspect ratio 4:3
    Signature & date

    Signed master DVD, black fibre-tipped pen "... T. McMillan ...". Not dated.
    Signed player DVD, black fibre-tipped pen "... T. McMillan ...". Not dated.

    Gift of Brian and Gene Sherman 2021. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Todd McMillan

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Todd McMillan

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'The name of the work is 'By the sea'. I made it in 2004. It's a 72 second video that's, in a way, been condensed from a 12-hour performance. Well, the work is based upon a Caspar David Friedrich painting, 'Monk by the sea', which was made in, I think was, 1809, and so I used that for the basis for the work where I then stood in for the figure in the painting. I stood upon the cliff for 12 hours from 6 pm to 6 am. The first time I did it, I was actually hospitalised, so I actually, sort of, suffered exposure and had to be resuscitated. There was a lot of fear that I wouldn't be able to do it and that sense of it being in the work and being, you know, sort of a, knowing that I had to stand there for 12 hours for there to be a work and sort of think "am I going to be able to do this?" was something that I had to, sort of, keep thinking about but I had to, sort of, also push to the back of my mind because when the doubts came in I did start to feel terrible. I mean, there's a certain point in the film where you'll see that there are actually cracks of lightning and it starts to pour down raining and, you know, was freezing, you know, and crying, and it was like, you know, truly horrific.'

    ‘Todd McMillan on his MCA collection work ‘By the sea’’, Youtube, uploaded by MCA, 16 Apr 2013,

Other works by Todd McMillan