Peter Elliston - Red Heart
Exhibition: 19 November to 20 December, 2003
Peter Elliston's photographic oeuvre has centred on capturing human interactions with the landscape. For his previous series Stones and Marks (shown at Stills Gallery in 1999) he trekked like an archaeologist across many terrains, in search of ancient structures and inscriptions, remnants of history that offered a glimpse into the past.
In his current body of work, Red Heart, Elliston has taken this interest in landscape a step further. He has travelled into the remote centre of Australia - the red heart - where in the tradition of environmental artists, he has performed and photographed his own interactions with the landscape.
Using fire, rocks and earth Elliston has created shapes and patterns in the landscape. A single tree comes alive with flames as the moon rises in the background, a square of brightly synthetic green grass sits surrounded by red desert sand. These works symbolically create an intersection between humans, nature, time and photography in order to explore their relations to each other. They are also celebration of the red centre of our country and the elements from which it is made. The particular Australian colour palate is a feature of these works with bright orange flames set against dusty pink sunset skies and dark olive green trees.
One device Elliston has used in a number of the images is anamorphosis (from the Greek meaning formed again). While the shape he has created appears square or circular in the photograph, in actuality it looks nothing like that. Elliston has played with perspective and the surface of the photograph - these simple shapes fool our eyes and our minds.