Australia 1911 – 2003

Windflowers 1939 Creation Notes: printed 1995
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph , from composite negative

Primary Insc: 'Windflowers 1939' l.l. sheet in pencil 'Olive Cotton' l.r. sheet in pencil
Dimensions: printed image 25.8 h x 20.7 w cm sheet 35.6 h x 27.7 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1996
Accession No: NGA 96.258
  • This deceptively simple photograph (sometimes titled by Cotton Puff of wind) is a composite of two negatives; it is also one of the few pictures taken by Cotton that features a deliberately constructed narrative. Initially, Cotton photographed the flowers in a vase against a black backdrop. For the second negative, she placed the original negative against the camera’s viewfinder in reverse, and used the image she saw through the viewfinder to place the ‘falling’ petals on a black backdrop. Cotton took a photograph of the petals after blowing a puff of cigarette smoke across the scene. A composite copy negative was then made from the two for printing.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra