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To The Sea Narelle Autio & Trent Parke

Australia floats like a good looking stain in the middle of an ocean of blue. For the most part we who live here have chosen to live around its shores, close to water. We seem more comfortable there, closer to life and it’s beginnings. The rest of us live further in. The population dwindling as the roads that take us to the centre, grow long and monotonous. These photographs have been collected over years and years of travel across the country, along dusty roads to nowhere in particular but on roads that always lead back to the sea.


I am trapped in a speeding metal box, staring out into the red heart of this country. Through the car window, the outback is a silent blur of amazing colour and mystery. Inside the car, time is at a standstill and passes unbearably slow. Outside, the speed is mesmerising and beautiful and the passage of time becomes instantly real. It is a strange feeling it is as though life doesn’t seem to pass at all until you look closely. I take photographs out of the window. I always felt compelled to make these images. Shooting on my battered old film cameras, the patterns I saw as I stared out only revealed themselves much later when I developed the transparency. I would look at them and put them in storage. Not really knowing what they meant to me, not knowing but also knowing they meant something. Overtime I collected more. The making of them became a ritual and the pile grew larger. ...

... Mementos from time gone, static but moving, evidence of time travel, almost but not quite. Thirteen years after I first started taking these pictures and many glorious miles travelled I find myself a mother and closer to the half way mark than I would like. These images haunt me now, like a b-grade movie death the blur of colours rush past me in a sentimental stream of memories made and moved on from. Then suddenly the movement stops and other images appear and I see versions of my life flashing in and out of the landscapes. I am in all of them, they are part of me and they are dragging me back in time and at the same time pushing me closer to a final unknown destination. Life passes all too quickly and as I watch my small children grow tall the feeling becomes threatening and melancholic. After a long time waiting, these images mean something very real to me. The photographs are reminders of my life but also a record of my journey towards the end. I am not entirely comfortable with this feeling but the landscapes blur past in a warp of memory and colour and I have no say. They are puling me through time at a pace that is entirely unsatisfactory. I want it to slow down, but it never does.

TRENT While I am always working on something new, all of my images in the show are actually from the ‘Minutes To Midnight’ trip. It has been ten years since we made the MTM trip and a chance incident forced my hand to re-examine the work again. Recently, my two brothers, Tyran and Grant, and I worked on a show called ‘Compositions’, which premiered at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June 2013. Tyran asked some of the great musical theatre composers around the world to write a song for any image of mine that they had an emotional response to. Australian writer Eddie Perfect chose an image that I had taken of beauty queens sitting on car bonnets before the start of a parade. (This image is part of the ‘Minutes to Midnight’ series). He then wrote a song about this photograph called ‘The Sea’. As a result of the stage production, where the images were to be projected on stage while Tyran performed the songs, I went back though my archives to find the original roll of negatives that this picture came from. As I was looking through these negatives for the first time since I made them, I realised there was a completely different story to be told. I went on and scanned another 800 or so images from that trip which I had never considered before. At the time I made them, they didn’t fit the MTM theme I was working towards. ...

... Narelle and I are always shooting regardless of whether it fits the narrative we have in mind or not. The lyrics Eddie wrote and the tempo of the song triggered a different way of interpreting the images made during that trip in 2003/04. The story was there all along, it just needed a trigger. Before I knew it, I had made four new books that all link together, called ‘To The Sea’. To sum it up: I took a photograph, Eddie wrote a song about the photograph, I then made four books about Eddie’s song.

Catalogue list of works 1. Trent Parke Untitled from To The Sea (The Road Trip) 18 x 26cm framed, edition of 3 $600 framed

7. Trent Parke Untitled from To The Sea (The Life Saver) 18 x 26cm framed, edition of 3 $600 framed

2. Trent Parke Untitled from To The Sea (The Staircase to the Moon) 18 x 26cm framed, edition of 3 $600 framed

8. Trent Parke Untitled from To The Sea (The Beauty Queen) 102 x 140cm, edition of 3 $5500

3. Narelle Autio Road to Gundagai 67 x 98cm, edition of 6 $3300 starting price

9. Trent Parke Untitled from To The Sea (The Beauty Queen) 97 x 148cm, edition of 3 $5500

4. Narelle Autio Simpson Desert 67 x 98cm, edition of 6 $4400

10. Narelle Autio Shot Gun 67 x 98cm, edition of 1 $4400

5. Narelle Autio Nullabour 67 x 98cm, edition of 6 $3300 starting price

series: To The Sea, 2013

6. Narelle Autio Road to Cape Leveque 67 x 98cm, edition of 6 $3300 starting price

All prices are for unframed prints unless otherwise stated and include GST. Prices are subject to change at a later date. More works from the series available at Stills Gallery.

pigment prints

36 Gosbell Street, Paddington NSW 2021 Australia tel 61 2 9331 7775 fax 61 2 9331 1648 email web