Composure: Natural Selection New work by Nicole Robson

The work in this exhibition continues my examination into the theatricality of the suburban domestic space.

I have stepped in closer, allowing the wallpaper and décor to come forward, releasing it from the parameters of a ‘room’. The only human presence in these environments exists in the worn out furniture and carefully selected ornaments.

I have been more emphatic in my choices of composition, patterning and colour, feeling like these works needed to exist within their simplicity. The framing takes place with in the camera, selected to flatten the picture plane and created a more abstracted view of these internal spaces. I wanted to highlight wallpaper designs, the glint light on water in a picture on the wall or shine of vinyl on a well-worn chair.

The unifying element in all the work is the relationship between nature and the suburban home. Although one of our main aims is to keep nature out of homes, we remove ivy from the bricks and mortar and fix leaks in a roves, we sweep out the dirt and clean away the cobwebs however despite this we both historically and to this day hang wallpaper of flowers and creeping vines, display pictures of wild horses, oceans and forest and place flowers in a vases. These ‘elements’ are all within our control. I have chose distinctly artificial floral arrangements and highly decorative landscapes. The type of pictures and objects that seem quaint at a shack or chosen for irony but were once loved and cherished or purchased from a department store to cover a hole in the wall, either way they evoke memories associated with place and experience.

The format and presentation of the work in this exhibition represents the photograph as an object, like a Polaroid found in an old book. As technology changes the ‘Polaroid’ has become more than a photography but an object itself, it can still be scanned and shared but the print itself is a one off, it exits the camera as a single shot of a moment that has passed. The sense that an instant printed photo can become a valued object is an idea I associate with the content in my images, I am reordering, representing and re-injecting value or beauty into décor that is of a time past. I am honouring the memories of a home, decorated to please and be admired by its occupants.

Keeping Up Appearances

This exhibition brings together two bodies of work investigating the theatricality of western domestic interiors. Nicole Robson examines domestic life by depicting people at home. On closer examination, a sense of strangeness begins to emerge from the work. The light seems too bright, the decor too contrived and the characters too rigid. These images – seemingly everyday – in fact depict carefully composed scenes.

Nicole’s settings are created from scratch, the furniture is purchased at second-hand stores, and the models are dressed, made up and directed in order for the image to appear like an ordinary snapshot from family life. Yet her subjects are at odds with their surroundings and it is her intent that they puncture through her manufactured façades. Nicole states that the work:- "hovers on the edge of believability to allow a narrative that is uncomfortably unnatural." It is through these elaborate mise en scenes that Nicole attempts to examine our social identity through the guise of materialism.

Keeping Up Appearances was chosen as part of the renowned reGeneration2 exhibition and publication. Curators William Aewung & Natalie Herschdorfer state:-"Nicole Robson plays with a sense of ambiguity. Are the characters directed? Do these people really exist? The calculated blur between reality and fiction, reflects a critical concern regarding the so-called objectivity of documentary photography".

Nicole’s recent exhibitions include Pane, a collaboration with performance group MADE, presented in Hobart, Launceston and Brisbane as well as groups shows at CAST Gallery, The Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney and The Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne. In June 2010, Nicole travelled to Lausanne, Switzerland to participate in reGeneration2: tomorrow’s photographers today, launched at the Musée de l’Elysée the exhibition toured to China, South Africa, USA, and France. In January 2011 Nicole received a Marie Edwards Travel scholarship to attend the opening and folio review at the Aperture foundation in New York. This exhibition also included a publication of the same name, printed by Thames and Hudson. This year Nicole was selected as a semifinalist in the Headon Portrait Prize, Sydney and was selected as one of 10 emerging artist to be highlighted in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art. She is also a recent recipient of an Arts Tasmania grant, to create a new body of work.

Great Expectations II

A childhood bedroom is usually our first experience of personal space. We are placed in a room, which has been constructed by our parents: a room in which to play, imagine, sleep and dream. In the first half of our childhood our containment within our rooms is imposed. Imposition fostering our imagination where shadows become dancing ballerinas and raincoats become boogiemen. As we move from childhood to adolescence the strength of parental control has lessened, yet we then choose to contain ourselves in these private spaces. We make these spaces private by marking them as ours, with pictures, posters, ornaments and treasures on which to focus our fantasies. The adolescent bedroom is where the future adult gestates. Adolescent’s half-dreaming consciousness manifests within the four walls of their bedroom. It is the place where they construct a world of possibilities. What is placed within these rooms becomes a shrine to their aspirations.

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