For the past eight years my work has been an exploration of suburbia in Australia. Inspired by the lived experience of this all too familiar space, my work has been a series of explorations into notions of nostalgia, the beauty of the banal, suburban iconography and the ongoing investigation into peoples’ relationships with their immediate surroundings.
The process of getting to this point has been a life long journey. The realisation of the ordinariness of life and the commonalities that we, as people, share has fuelled my investigation. When we strip away the glitz and the glam that sometimes conceals our ordinariness, what we are left with is the reality of our own existence. There is nothing pessimistic in this view, as it is within this notion that I find beauty in life.
This series explores pockets of “Paradise in Suburbia.” It is an exploration of the relationships that people develop with natural landscapes near their homes. When I was a child my father and I would go canoeing at a branch of the Canning River that ran through Thornlie in Western Australia, where I grew up. Mum would help get the canoe on to the roof rack because dad had limited mobility, due to Multiple Sclerosis. At the other end, we would wait by the river until someone else came along and we would ask for their help unloading the canoe. That part of the river holds so much for me now; it is imbued with many emotions layered with fond memories of my father. It is this connection between meaning and place that this current series is attempting to capture.
In the areas of these photographs where the image overlaps and reverses, there are layers of icons and strange creatures; the totemic images give the work a sense of foreboding and a depth that goes beyond an analysis of the physical and into the realm of our experience. Humans bring meaning to whatever space they inhabit; this space in turn becomes far more than a material reality, it becomes a treasury of stories and memories, both factual and embellished, both real and imagined.
— Rebecca Dagnall
Editor's Note: We discovered this work during the Photovisa Photography Festival in Krasnodar, Russia, where Alasdair Foster presented a slideshow lecture on contemporary landscape photography in Australia.