Australia 1911 – 2003
Sky submerged 1937 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph from composite negative
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