Monday, January 9, 2012

Julie Williams

I am often drawn to artists who have experienced death and then use their work to process the loss.  Julie Williams is just such a person.  She is an Australian photo-artist, who in 2004 lost her partner.  In an effort to work through her grief, Williams began to visit familiar places in nature.  One spot she kept returning to, was a waterhole in the Hartley Valley.  It seemed that as a drought back in 2004 the valley ended, and the River Lett began to flow again, her grief also moved with it.  She picked up her camera and began to photograph the water, the light, and the movement.

Each time she returned over the next weeks, months and then years, the waterhole was different. A metaphor for her journey, that grief seems to change moment by moment, just as the water flow changed.  The subject matter itself, being water, is somewhat symbolic of grief - as we think of tears being shed, of streams down someone's cheeks.  Williams herself has pointed out that even the images, elusive and inexplicable, can be like grief itself. 

These works were on display this fall, entitled "When first knew this place" at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, NSW, Australia.  Williams says of the title, "The grief pulled me up, the water drew me in and that was when I began to really see. It was when first I knew this place."   When asked about her upcoming plans, Williams told an interviewer that she wasn't done with the waterhole yet, that it continues to keep drawing her back.

Personally, I enjoy seeing images of every day surroundings,  portrayed in such a way that they appear magical, moving, or unrecognizable.  These images then to me, are aesthetic and mean even more in the context of grief.

To see a complete collection of the artists works, visit her page here.
The above images are "Untitled # 3" and "Untitled # 21", both copyright 2011 Julie Williams

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