Olive COTTON, The shell Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

The shell c 1935 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Creation Notes: The only known vintage print
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: insc in pencil l.l. sheet 'The shell' , l.r sheet in pencil, 'Olive Cotton'
Dimensions: 37.6 h x 30.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.1148
Subject: Still life

This is the only known print of this marvellously strange image of a shell which seems to have its own internal life force. In spite of its relative obscurity within the literature on Cotton’s work, it embodies some of the key attributes of her work from this period: the close-up viewpoint of modernist photography, the psychological strangeness of Surrealism and her pictorial treatment of light that casts the subject with an almost religious glow.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra