Julie Millowick @ New North Editions, Fairfield

Julie Millowick - Mist, Crocodile ReservoirMonday, 3 May 2010

Dear Diary,

Julie Millowick’s exhibition Close to Home at the New North Editions brings forth the incontestable evidence of the drought that has been affecting Central Victoria during the last decade.

The physical appearance and photographic processes of the works in this exhibition differ significantly from Millowick’s previous suites of photograms and cyanotypes. However, their narratives are linked semantically inasmuch as they reflect the artist’s continuous fascination, interest, and involvement with her region.

Julie Millowick - Abandoned MineThe changing local flora provides Millowick with the ongoing source of inspiration, as does the area’s history and folklore, which has been used so imaginatively by Julie in the suite of cyanotypes, Love Letters of a Chinese Lady, and brought to life in Close to Home through her documentation of mine shafts that pepper the landscape of the former gold-mining district of Central Victoria.

The effects of merciless weather conditions have been captured in this inspiring and thought-provoking body of work through the repetitive depiction of dry land, yellowing plants, and empty river beds. Millowick uses her camera as a divining rod to seek out water wherever she can, and in whichever state it may exist in nature – gas, liquid, or solid. It is abundantly present in such photographs as Crocodile Reservoir and Fryer’s Creek, but is only subtly conspicuous as the floating fog in Fryer’s Forest, droplets of dew in Bush Cut Mist, and the ice in Black Reeds.

Julie Millowick - Dog as WolfAn underlying personal narrative, reflective perhaps of the artist’s own intimate world, can also be detected within these photographs. The vulvic outlines of mine shafts and water holes surrounded by the pubis of grasses and dry reeds, the figure of the lurking dog as a metaphor for a predatory male as well as conjugal fidelity, and the gushing foam of a forest creek speak of physical, sexual longing, which is imaginatively expressed in this suite of works through the visual vehicle of nature photography.

The works are most meticulously executed. The low vantage point of the photograph puts the viewer within the picture plane; the realistic sensation is heightened by the crystal clarity of the foreground details which dissipate into the foggy nothingness towards the background of the pictures. The clarity and precision of the images belies their conceptual and physical complexity. Each work is composed of numerous individual photographs, which have been painstakingly collaged and overlayed.  This creates – and explains – an unusual visual panorama, which adds to the feeling of the mysterious in every shot.

Julie Millowick - Bush Cut MistClose to Home has been previously shown at the Ballarat International Photo Biennale and the Adelaide Festival. This body of work is a testament to Millowick’s dual talents as a respected documentary photographer and a renowned photographic artist, and a  showcase of her superior skills and technical abilities within the varying aspects of the complex medium of photography.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

May 2010


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