Olive COTTON, Girl with mirror Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

Girl with mirror 1938 Creation Notes: printed 1938
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: Signed and dated, border of print, l.r., pencil, "Olive Cotton '38". Titled on border of print l.l. pencil, "Girl with mirror".
Dimensions: printed image 31.7 h x 29.9 w cm sheet 32.6 h x 30.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1987
Accession No: NGA 87.1442

The photographs Cotton took while attending Dupain’s fashion shoots often focussed on the graphic effects created by light rather than fashion or the dynamics of the shoot itself. Cotton’s role as assistant left her free to explore personal interests, without the imperative of getting a shot for the assignment. This image of a model attending to her make-up, seemingly absorbed in her own image, is primarily concerned with the patterns created by light falling on sand dunes and the way they contrast with the decorative print of her clothing. It is notable that the image we see in the mirror is not the model’s face, but the patterns created by light hitting the sand. As Cotton later remembered, ‘I took it mostly because I really liked the pattern in the sand and the contrasting pattern in the left-hand corner’, which includes a series of diagonal shadows cast by Dupain’s tripod.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra