Adelaide photographer Narelle Autio takes us on a deep dive to explore our deep connection to the ocean.
Narelle Autio, Siren I, 2007, from The place in between, pigment print, 84 x 65 cm, ed. of 10
The call of the ocean
Narelle Autio’s vibrant images of the Australian outback and coastal life have won her widespread acclaim over the years and continue to capture the hearts and imaginations of viewers. Her sophisticated use of colour, light and composition create photographs that evoke the complex beauty of Australia’s landscape, which is sometimes eroded by commercialism and clichés.
The water at the end of the jetty is dark. It is deep. I dive, down into the quiet and cold. I breathe out the remaining life I have left in me and sink further into the darkness. Looking up I watch the bubbles of air flee towards the light. Surrounded by things unknown, unseen, I wait. Wait and wait for the jumpers to disturb the stillness. My heart is beating, get out, get out, get out of here.
– NARELLE AUTIO
The call of the ocean has long been a focus of Narelle Autio’s work. She spent her childhood growing up in sun-soaked Australia and has had a lifetime relationship with the beach, fascinated by the need she sees in so many of us – to return to water. Her work intuits this primeval need that connects us to our ancient ancestors, pulling us back to where we came. Her images dive into our collective memories and speak to many of us of own personal experiences.
Cinematic in nature and using the play of light and colour familiar to all her work, Autio captures the complex relationship and drama of our love for the sea and our willingness to risk our lives to enjoy it.
Narelle Autio, Siren VI, 2007, from The place in between, pigment print, 84 x 65 cm, ed. of 10
The water above me explodes in shock. I love that moment of immersion when the sea first grabs hold of us. Cocooned in a shroud of bubbles and light, suffocated by a cold, insisting watery embrace. There is a sublime moment of suspension, of complete isolation in a place between two worlds. We can live here but not for very long. The sea lets us enter but it might not let us leave.
– NARELLE AUTIO
Narelle Autio, Changeling VII (detail), 2020, pigment print, edition of 8, 82 x 120cm or 110 x 162cm. Top right: Siren VI, 2007, from The place in between, pigment print, 84 x 65 cm, ed. of 10.
UK Indie publisher Stanley Barker released A place in between in a beautiful artist’s edition of just 30 which sold out immediately and earlier this year, a suite of this work was exhibited at Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide, South Australia. You can still view the work online here.
Autio has an impressive list of accolades. She has won World Press Awards, an American Picture of the Year Award, a Walkley Award and was the first Australian to win the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award. In 2016, she was a finalist with collaborator Trent Parke in the Basil Sellars Art Prize (following solo participation in 2014) and she was a finalist in the Fleurieu Art Prize. In 2013, she was a finalist in the Bowness Photography Prize and The Olive Cotton Prize.
With work held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Parliament House Collection, Artbank, National Gallery of Victoria, Samstag Museum of Art and the Australian National Maritime Museum, and features in many national and international exhibitions, Narelle Autio’s work is impressive and collectible. We love!