November 6 – November 20 2010
“Beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness are unsuspected Aladdin caves. Down there, not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide – the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives.” *
Anthea Polson Art is privileged to present for the first time in Queensland, a selection of magnificent, limited edition photographic artworks by multi-award winning Samantha Everton. It will be a rare opportunity to view the Melbourne-based artist’s critically acclaimed Vintage Dolls and Childhood Fears series. The exhibition is a prelude to her forthcoming new body of work that will have its national premier with Anthea Polson Art in March 2011. Collected Works also celebrates Everton’s extraordinary achievements at the Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) this year. An international panel of judges selected the 2010 Px3 winners from thousands of entries from over 85 countries. Samantha Everton was awarded: First Prize in the Portraiture – Children category for her entry entitled Grace (Vintage Dolls Series), Third Prize in the Fine Art – People category for Siam (Vintage Dolls Series)and also received an Honourable Mention for Bewitching Hour (Vintage Dolls Series).
Everton’s rise to international recognition is the result of the unerring integrity of her photographic processes and an innate ability to access the subliminal in sumptuous visual narratives of cross-cultural, sociological and psychological relevance. Through fantastic and disturbingly lush imagery, we are lured into the realms of make-believe that Everton calls “magic realism”. “I love surrealism,” she explains, “Dali, Escher – pictures where there’s something extra if you look a little closer.”
Eighteen months in the making, the 2009 Vintage Dolls series is set in a shadowy world betwixt dreams and waking. It features a cast of five elaborately attired girls entertaining themselves in an abandoned house. Everton went to quite extraordinary lengths in sourcing exactly the right children, props, costumes and house for the images. Eventually she found a building ready for demolition, surprisingly, at the end of her suburban street and was able to set about meticulously creating the sets for her shoot. Wallpaper and paint were strategically applied, holes knocked into walls to let light in and the floorboards cut so as to submerge the tree that appears in the work, Nocturne. “The house had a ghostly feeling and remnants of a past life; it juxtaposed against the playfulness of the children”, comments Everton. “It’s like the children are in an attic and they’re play-acting but on a deeper level, I wanted to show how children interact with culture and 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. “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. “It’s about wanting to fit in. Childhood fears are universal; the fear of abandonment and the fear of not belonging are common to us all. These images are my interpretations of those places where innermost thoughts and emotions are played out.” There, fantasy and reality entwine in dark deserted streets and ‘retro’ interiors suffused in a greenish, aqueous light connotative of a subconscious realm. The odd stillness of the scenes heightens 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 primarily as a director on her photo shoots, creating theatrical productions in front of the camera and then photographing them. But nothing happens by chance here. It is of crucial importance that she controls every aspect in the materialization of her initial concept – all the way through to the printing of the photographic image with pigment-based inks onto archival-quality rag paper and the final framing. True to the realism of her work, Everton captures the images on traditional film using a medium format camera, “It is very important to me that the viewer believes in the image, therefore everything you see, from the girl flying through the air to the tree sprouting through the floor, was actually there and shot in camera. Everton is reluctant to explain 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.”
* Joseph Campbell: The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Princeton University Press
SAMANTHA EVERTON BIOGRAPHY
Samantha Everton credits her unusual childhood as instrumental in fostering a creative mind. Growing up with a biological brother and three adopted Asian siblings, she spent hours fossicking for gemstones under the wide blue skies of remote mining towns in Central Queensland. Hers was a colour-saturated world, “Our house was in the middle of nowhere. Everywhere wheat was growing – taller than us and we’d run and play in fashioned mazes.” Although the multicultural theme underpinning much of her imagery isn’t directly referencing her own family experience, Everton admits it is an influence.
When the opportunity arose Everton travelled to South East Asia – the land of her siblings – on the first stage of a four year journey around the world during which time she supported herself as a barber and a nanny. It was not until Everton arrived back in Australia that she realised photography was the way in which she could incorporate her various talents. After volunteering in photographic studios and newspapers, she found work as a cadet photographer with the The Melbourne Times. Accepted into the RMIT Photographic Design Degree, Everton graduated in 2003 at the top of her class receiving the Steve Vizard Most Creative Folio Award. She was also awarded Highest Aggregate Score Winner from amongst all Victorian photography students.
Since her graduation, she has won a host of awards including: 2010 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) First Prize in the Portraiture – Children, Third Prize in the Fine Art – People, and Honourable Mention; 2009 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) – Honourable Mention; 2009 MORAN Contemporary Photographic Prize – Highly Commended Award; 2009 Selected for the core program of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale; 2008 MORAN Contemporary Photographic Prize – Finalist; 2008 Corangamarah Art Prize – People’s Choice Award; 2007 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) Peoples’ Choice – 1st place; 2006 Twenty-Third McGregor Prize for Photography Award – Winner; 2006 Twenty-Third McGregor Prize for Photography Award – Highly Commended; 2005 Leica Documentary Photographer of the Year Award – Winner; 2005 Head On Photographic Portrait Prize, Michael Nagy Gallery – Second Place; 2005 33rd Alice Prize – Acquisition of work for Alice Springs Art Gallery Permanent Collection; 2004 Victoria Fulbright Visual and Performing Arts Award – Australian National Finalist; 2003 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – 1 gold and 2 silver medals.
Samantha Everton has created five bodies of photographic art, namely: the Utopia series, 2009; the Vintage Dolls series, 2009; the Childhood Fears series, 2007; the Catharsis series, 2005 and the Inaugural Collected Works series, 2003. A new series will be launched at Anthea Polson Art, Main Beach Queensland in March, 2011. Everton’s work has been published and reviewed in numerous books and specialist art magazines around the world, including The New Yorker, Photofile, Harper’s Bazaar and Blanket magazine. Her various photographic series have attracted critical acclaim with reviews in the Australian Art Market Report and Australian Art Review. Everton is represented in a number of important private and public collections, including the University of Western Sydney, the University of Southern Queensland, the Rockhampton Art Gallery, the Alice Springs Art Gallery, and Customs House Gallery in Warnambool.
The exhibition ‘Samantha Everton – Collected Works’ is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 18-20 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from November 6 – November 20 2010