Samantha Everton

Survey Exhibition with QCP5

April 7 - April 14 2012

Anthea Polson Art in conjunction with the Queensland Festival of Photography presents a survey exhibition of photographic artworks by multi-award winning Samantha Everton. It is an opportunity to view a selection of the Melbourne-based artist's critically acclaimed Marionettes,Vintage Dolls, Childhood Fears and more recent Wolf series.

Samantha Everton has gained international recognition for the unerring integrity of her photographic processes and an innate ability to access the subliminal in sumptuous visual narratives. There is something unsettling and yet strangely familiar about Samantha Everton's imagery. It lures us in and holds us spellbound in realms of make-believe that Everton calls "magic realism". The wolf-headed, scantily clad figure in Samantha Everton's new Wolf series is at once vulnerable and threatening. The image seems a challenge to society's attitudes of self-absorbed complacency and disregard.

Extending her ongoing visual exploration of interior states of being, the 2011 Marionettes series show women caught in moments of silent implosion. Artificially lit, compressed spaces and livid colours heighten the psychological tension while closed curtained windows negate any possibility of relief entering from the outside world. Although the Marionettes scenarios illuminate women's sociological and psychological isolation, they also hint at something extraordinary in their ‘outsider' status. The omnipresence of birds - both native and introduced - amplifies the surrealism and provides a unifying element to the body of work. Whilst illustrating weighty themes, the images are made accessible to all by a pervading sense of situational comedy.

The 2009 Vintage Dolls series is set in a shadowy world betwixt dreams and waking. It features a cast of five elaborately attired young girls entertaining themselves in an abandoned house. "The house had a ghostly feeling and evinced remnants of a past life that juxtaposed the playfulness of the children," comments Everton. "It's like the girls are play-acting up in an attic, but on a deeper level, I wished to show how children interact with culture; how they absorb and re-enact what they see. I wanted there to be a child with whom each person could identify."

More sober and silent, the earlier 2007 Childhood Fears series explores the darker realms of adolescence. Fantasy and reality entwine in dark deserted streets and ‘retro' interiors suffused in a greenish, aqueous light. "This series is about being at an age when you are very much aware of your environment and how different you are from other people," says Everton. "These images are my interpretations of those places where innermost thoughts and emotions are played out." The odd stillness of the scenes intensifies the suspense of possible outcomes. Paradoxically, there is no sign of fear or vulnerability in the children. They appear ambivalent - complicit even - in the strange happenings.

Everton works much like a theatrical director on her photo shoots and each series is many months in the making. She goes to quite extraordinary lengths sourcing exactly the right characters, props, costumes and houses for her tableaux vivants. The elaborate sets are then shot with a medium format camera using traditional film. Everton is reluctant to explain specifics of the narrative content and underlying symbolism in the works, preferring that the viewer respond from a personal perspective. "My images are a snapshot, mid-moment, they don't begin or end," she says. "It leaves you to your own imagination, to draw your own conclusions."

Everton's photographic art has been well celebrated and awarded over the past ten years. Most recently in 2011 she was a Finalist in the Olive Cotton Photography Prize and the Prometheus Art Prize. In 2010 Everton won a First and a Third place award in the Px3 Paris International Photography Awards and was a Finalist in the London International Creative Competition.


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