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A Gothic view of the Ballarat landscape

Jane Burton is a photographic artist currently living and working in Melbourne, known for her depictions of the female body, brooding landscapes, derelict architectures and abandoned interiors. Her work centres around an exploration of feminine desire and is often darkly ambiguous, enigmatic and provocative.

In a new series of photographs commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Burton turns her camera to the country around Ballarat, and in particular a place to which she was attracted by the macabre possibilities suggested by long-submerged trees now emerging from a body of water.

She said that the place moved her profoundly, giving her feeling of both euphoria and melancholy, connecting with the Romantic longing and sense of loss which have been at the core of her work for some time.

Burton describes it as ‘a hidden place that one must walk into for some distance, crossing a kind of psychic threshold.’

‘Inside, by a vast reservoir of water, dead trees once submerged now surface due to drought, their limbs like bones worn clean by the elements.’

‘It seemed to me that I was standing in a cemetery, where once great trees had perished in stricken and mournful postures, that I had passed into a mythical underworld, a realm between earth and water and sky.’

Burton has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Australia, and abroad. She has been the recipient of artist residencies in Paris, London and Beijing, while her photographs are held in prominent collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Australia. This series of photographs, titled The sunken garden, connects with her broader body of work.

‘Photographing nature is a way for me to visually convey the poetry of the inner experience and spiritual longing, in the shadow of our mortality.’

This new series of work consists of seven large photographs which will be on show at the Gallery as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2019.

Gallery Director Louise Tegart said that the Gallery is keen to show work by artists who are finding new ways of depicting Ballarat and its surrounding landscape.

‘It is very stimulating to see the familiar places around Ballarat seen through a different lens. The Gallery is committed to showcasing Ballarat and its artists as well as introducing new perspectives which Burton does in an striking manner.’

‘Burton has taken an apparently ordinary scene of a dam with low water levels and found something extraordinary in it – a dark and brooding scene of loss and devastation.

‘These photographs bring Burton’s unique Gothic vision to an apparently prosaic and familiar scene.’


 Exhibition details

Jane Burton: The sunken garden

24 August–27 October 2019

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Part of Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2019