Although she doesn’t consider herself to be a photographer, Simryn Gill, equipped with a camera, travelled from northern New South Wales to Western Australia where she and her support crew were invited into numerous people’s homes to capture a glimpse of their lives. The participants’ generosity and hospitality forms the spirit of this work.
Through Simryn’s conceptual art we may perceive many commonalities and differences in the way basic survival needs have been met. Each unique living space is a testament to the circumstances, tastes, resources and skills of those who reside there. It reflects their personal habits and values, giving clues to the manner in which they live. The viewer may find elements that surprise and objects or styles that are familiar. As we move from one picture to the next, we seek to find the similarities and differences.
For Simryn’s subjects to expose themselves in allowing her to exhibit a view of their homes in this series artwork, they must have trusted her and felt confident that her work would give an honest depiction of their lives. It is certainly a skill to be able to instil this trust in so many people.
How Simryn’s work relates to my arts practice
Inland, like many of Simryn’s other works, is a series of individual photographs, each worthy of examination in its own right, juxtaposed to form a whole with a new and deeper meaning –exhibiting the culture of a community – society pegged in time by the camera’s captured moment.
For years I have documented the social comment at Elephant Rock – a natural outcrop of rock resembling an elephant, on which the country community celebrates, announces and posts invitations. I had intended to publish the photographs in book form, but Simryn’s exhibition at McClelland Gallery has convinced me that the pictures would be displayed with immediate impact and deeper meaning on a gallery wall.
The Jewish Museum of Australia’s Babel Project; run by photographer, Georgia Metaxas, was based on the work of Simryn Gill and other documentary photographers.