Published in Time Out Sydney

by Darryn King


It’s 42°C in Brisbane the day we speak to Samantha Everton on the phone – and she’s admitted defeat. “My studio is a bungalow in the backyard,” she says. “On days like this I just have to give up!”

Everton’s latest show, Marionettes, hints at notions of surrender too. It consists of a series of surreal – “maybe more hyperreal”, she offers – images of women alone in the home. The domestic tableaux are saturated with warm primary colours and are steeped in the absurd: women float in mid-air, cling to the walls, sit with small potted plants on their heads or dunk their faces in birthday cake, all in their immaculate little doll dresses. In some images, stuffed birds (a goose, a duck, a kingfisher) observe the scene too.

For all their colour and playfulness, there’s something unsettling about the pictures. There’s the sense that the pictures capture, intrude on even, instances of sudden breakdown. These are moments – to tie this in to the provocative title of the exhibition – when the strings just go ‘snap’. “They’re quiet implosions,” Everton says, not wanting to give away too much. “These moments in life where, well, we all have the same pressures. Daily life is pressure. And, sometimes, you just want to scream – inside.”

Everton strives to achieve something “more magical, less common” in her images. Photography is her natural outlet but she came to it surprisingly late. “I was never given a camera as a child,” she says. “I actually found photography later in life, after I’d tried many different mediums. When I found photography I was so excited – I could now realise my dreams! I’d always had this imagination that I could never get out of my head.”

Now, Everton is even more interested in inspiring the fancy of others with her work. “I like to tap into people’s imaginations,” she says. “Your imagination comes out of your childhood and your history. The work is not just tapping into your imagination, but tapping into your self.”