Narelle Autio: The Summer of Us

21 Apr


It seems that summer’s pretty much over.  The days are shorter – I’m leaving the office after dark for the first time in months – and there’s a certain chill in the air. We don’t really have a winter in Sydney, but we like to pretend that, as soon as the Easter long weekend is over, we are in for an unending period of cold, wet misery – when in truth all it means is that the next 20-or-so weekends will be spent in a shirt and, if it’s really cold, a pair of jeans.

Stills in Paddington are holding onto the last vestages of summer with their current exhibition of Narelle Autio’s The Summer of Us, in an attempt to hold on to the last memories of summer.

Autio grew up in a beachside suburb of Adelaide, and after a hiatus living in London amongst other places, returned to the ‘sunburnt country’ that she knows and loves.   Her work looks at objects that symbolise an Australian summer, and deems them to be worthy of admiration and preservation.  Objects such as discarded bottle of Reef; some sand-filled panties; a winter glove overtaken by summer growth; an old thong.  All are documented with care and precision, the way an archaeologist would document a relic, or Dexter would document a gruesome crime scene.  In doing so, Autio is canonising these objects as national emblems.  And she’s right in doing so, as her work strikes a chord in every Australian – even someone like myself, who grew up 600kms from the ocean.  The images tap into our national psyche, our self-image as it were, and revel in our sandy, ordinary, idyllic summers.




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Posted by on April 21, 2009 in looking, photography


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