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Isabel (2003)

Isabel (2003)

Isabel charts a journey backwards – into Isabel’s and my own history – Orkney the country of my grandmother's forebears. Isabel is influenced by the values and aesthetics of Calvinism – the sense of the landscape and the body interrelated – controlled by forces of wind and sea and isolation, stoicism and denial. And of wanting to penetrate that level of control to mingle with and disturb history by adding levels of poetry and love, ritualised eating and embodiment both sensual and as gazed upon in challenge to the God fearing constraints. I augmented footage from an earlier unfinished 16mm film Untitled (1984) with filming of the landscape and buildings in Orkney and the tension of the crying baby (Isabel) woman.

 In 2001, I moved from Adelaide to Aberdeen. Whilst the shift from southern to northern hemisphere was a culture shock I embraced ‘European’ landscape and sensibility. My own connection to Europe had been forged quite young growing up in Australia. I read alot of British novels, identifying with snow clad landscapes and green lush environments, girls in tweed hacking jackets riding horses along an English coastline, or on hunts galloping across moors and open farm land. Living in Scotland, I identified with Isabel, my father’s mother’s background is from the island of Westray, Orkney. I saw versions of her image in the crowds walking down Union Street, the main street of Aberdeen.

My solo show 'Love Maps and Shadow Play' 2003 at the Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide (2003) involved a number of works which reviewed my identity as both European and White Australian. I considered the tension of being indigenous of neither landmass yet surprise at the seemingly greater familiarity of Scotland. I decided to rework ‘Untitled’ film from 1984 as key to navigate this cross over of landscape, emotion and history. 

Excerpt from an expanded text that discussed Isabel in 'The Inventory (1963-2011) See Mouths and Meaning.







Camera: Bronwyn Platten, Shaun Kirby

Editing: David Mudie and Bronwyn Platten