Review: Oceans from here

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Words || Ellie Sindel

Located on Sydney’s famous Oxford Street, surrounded by cafés and various storefronts proudly displaying the Pride flag, stands the Australian Centre for Photography. The ACP played host to Oceans From Here, an exhibition that demonstrates the ways in which the element of water defines us, and how we are bound to its natural cycle.

The modestly sized gallery features photographs from a number of artists, including Chris Bennie, Kai Wasikowski, Emma Hamilton, Dean Cross, John Young Zerunge, and Honey Long + Prue Stent. The photographs are hung along the left and right-hand-side walls as you enter the gallery, with the white walls of the room acting as the perfect minimalistic backdrop to such a beautifully colourful exhibition. The works featured in the exhibition vary in both size and medium. Some are still photographs measuring roughly 1.5m x 1m, others are very short looped videos displayed on screens smaller than an iPhone, and another piece features blown glass, rocks, and pigmented water.

Each section of the exhibition is grouped by artist, however the exhibition itself still manages to flow beautifully. Although each artist has captured a different aspect of water in some of its many different forms, all of the pieces feature the pure beauty of water, and the cyclical connection between humans, nature and water.

The photographs that I was most drawn to were the series of three images, “Scallop”, “Neptune’s Necklace”, and “Slipper Limpet” by Long + Stent. Their presentation of the female form and its deep connection to water captured my attention due to the bright colours within the photographs, especially “Scallop”, which depicts a nude woman draped with a soaked bright pink sheet that hugs her body. Printed next to this image was a description of the artists and their works. It states “primarily the artists focus on the female body, making a direct physical connection with the sea and life-giving fluids – be it amniotic, menstrual or breast milk”. I found this description intriguing, as I had not previously thought about how truly connected the female body is to water and the ocean.
To the right of Long + Stent’s photographs hung John Young Zerunge’s images of Antarctic glaciers, and I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of the artists pieces. Upon first glance, Zerunge’s glaciers represent the harshness and cold of the Antarctic, while Long + Stent present the softness of the female form. However, the glaciers can also simultaneously be seen as fragile, and the female form seen as powerful.

Oceans From Here is a beautifully striking and thought-provoking exhibition that should not be missed. Each artist presented their own interpretation of the connection of water to the world and to themselves in a different way, yet the overall feeling you get upon leaving is a sense of cohesiveness. Each series of images tells a unique story, and each subsequent series that is viewed after that is simply adding onto this beautiful never-ending story.

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