Olive COTTON, Sky submerged Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

Sky submerged 1937 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph from composite negative

Primary Insc: Signed and dated l.r. of print border, pen, "Olive Cotton '37". Titled l.l. of pirnt border, pen, "Sky submerged".
Dimensions: printed image 26.0 h x 25.0 w cm sheet 27.3 h x 25.7 w cm backing sheet 35.0 h x 31.8 w
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1987
Accession No: NGA 87.1437

This landscape is a composite made from two separate negatives. While printing sky and land from two separate negatives has been common to landscape photography almost since its inception, and was particularly common to Pictorialism, Cotton used the process to make a landscape from two fragments which by themselves were, in her terms, ‘incomplete’. All the same, and in spite of Cotton’s repudiation of any interest in the movement or the proliferation of a ‘surrealist style’ in Australian photography at this time, the composite nature of the print brings to the image a strangeness that is closer to Surrealism than Pictorialism. As with Cotton’s photograph Surf’s edge also seen in this exhibition, she has produced an image of the Australian landscape that is completely otherworldly.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra