The Deceit of Water

solo exhibition at Montsalvat

Eltham, Melbourne, Australia
April 2024

Exhibition Statement

The femme fatale nature of sea level rise is elucidated by Sara Rawlinson’s geo-photographs, which are made using intentional camera movement (or ‘camera painting’). Combining slow shutter speeds with physical movements akin to dancing, she literally washes the water up on the land, artistically and metaphorically eroding cliffscapes and flooding cityscapes and notable politi- cal buildings. In the images, water, sun and rock all mingle together – toppling cliffs, weaving with sunbeams, and interrupting horizons. Texture and colour are layered with seeming tranquility throughout the series in both intense and subtle ways, leading the viewer to further explore the hidden complexities of sea level rise. In this way and in direct response to climate change and the perils of sea level rise, these images evoke an ephemeral, intimate, painterly aesthetic: subtly luscious and dangerously timely.

Rawlinson’s camera work is influenced by her affliction / disorder / superpower called aphantasia, defined as the inability to visualise. She literally cannot conjure up images in her mind: only blurry blobs of colour. ‘Camera painting’ works well to elucidate what she actually remembers from any given place. As such, the images have a high degree of dishevelment, upheaval, and disorien- tation rather than detail, and are often darker and/or desaturated.

In both a literal and metaphorical sense, Rawlinson’s images are coupled with the subtlety and layering of the impending chaos of sea level rise. The aesthetics calm a quick passerby, but the concept provokes thoughtfulness in viewers who pause, dwell, and ponder. The images ask us to reflect on the viability and longevity of low-lying cities and tourist attractions in the face of climate change.

Ultimately, these abstract fine art geo-photographs search for peace within the femme fatale nature of climate change, bringing a simultaneous sense of eloquence and ephemerality, distress and delicacy.

Exhibition Details

The exhibition at Montsalvat consists of 23 photographs. Eight are printed by the artist on metallic paper (380gsm, 60 x 42 cm) in gold frames, limited editions of five. The remaining 15 photos are printed on Habotai silk (38gsm, 1 x 1.5 m), open editions. The images on silk have a 5cm fabric margin and are suspended on horizontal poles. They are designed to billow in the breeze as visitors walk past. Both the metallic sheen and silk billowing are designed to enhance the conceptual ephemerality of the imagery.

Photos are grouped together thematically. For example, a triptych of three silks shows the process of walking towards, close to, and underneath a bridge over the Seine in Paris with varying levels of water inundation. Another example is the aesthetic and conceptual pairing of “Root” and “Cornerstone”; the former elucidates a complicated root structure of the US Capitol building and the latter shows the pointed and ancient nature of Beijing’s Forbidden City. As in all of Rawlinson’s works and exhibition curation, all inuendos are intentional and multilayered

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top