No Matter How Clean and Quiet

Artist Statement

‘We do not have to be long in the woods to experience the always rather anxious impression of “going deeper and deeper” into a limitless world. Soon, if we do not know where we are going, we no longer know where we are…’

– Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space

I spent 3 months living and working in rural France. Initially I wandered during daylight hours out into the countryside along remote roads and forest pathways until I was followed on a number of occasions by a man in a white van. I felt exposed and uneasy. So I gravitated towards photographing at night and before dawn so as to be unseen and inconspicuous.

I went out into the forest early in the morning before dawn, at dusk and late at night during a cold autumn/winter. I breathed in the cold air, the space, early bird sounds and the silence. Once when I stopped and was absorbed in taking a picture, I felt the silence change around me. The forest seemed to move and I experienced a visceral fear. The eerie light emanating from the nearby nuclear reactor heightened the atmosphere. I knew I was unseen and alone but the feeling was unexplainable and real.

Was I experiencing an Arcadian moment? Like Denecourt, who explored and marked trails in the forests of Fontainebleau in the 1830’s, my nightly and early morning forays in the Champagne-Ardennes had little direction and were in an unknown and strange environment where I stumbled and got lost.

My images seek to explore our imagined origins, where the observed scene is dark and difficult to read. Forests and landscapes are submerged into condensed, ambivalent feelings.

— Jan Parker, October 2014


The artist wishes to thank the following people for their support and assistance. Shane, Cathy and Steve at Colour Factory, Sonia Penny, William Tarlo, Alyson Skinner and Clare Larman.

Jan Parker graduated in Fine Arts (Photography) at RMIT in 1992 and in Psychology at Latrobe University in 1979. Parker was a studio artist at 200 Gertrude Street Contemporary Art Space from 1993 to 1995. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in Australia, including a number of solo shows and has exhibited internationally in France.

Although primarily Melbourne based, she has lived and worked in Darwin during which time she was artist in residence at NTU and also in France for extended periods of time undertaking a solo exhibition in Paris in 2011. She was a finalist in the Albury Art Prize, the 35th Alice Prize and a participant in Octopus #2 at 200 Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces. Her work is held in a number of private collections in Australia, Vietnam, France and Italy.

Parker was a recipient of a UNESCO Aschberg international residency at CAMAC in France in 2010-2011 where she created these works. She has self-published a book of photographs related to this series. She currently lives and works in Melbourne.


Jan Parker CV