* Jill Crossley | Stanley Street Gallery

* Jill Crossley

Represented by Stanley Street Gallery

Abstract images gleaned from two very different tree types are glimpses offered as a metaphor or allegory for the countless racial, cultural and personality differences in ourselves, the human race.

One is a rain forest tree, a weeping Ficus with huge smooth muscular sensuous limbs bearing a canopy of quite small bright green leaves. It sprouts an abundance of aerial roots, which on reaching the ground often form buttresses around the main trunk.

The other tree is the Casuarina, which usually has a straight upward trunk with brown textured bark. It does not have leaves. The needle like ‘foliage’ often sombre, which hangs in loose bunches is formed of miniature branchlets. When they die and fall off they form a soft brown carpet around the tree base.

I have been affected by the caring gentleness and sensitivity of the long dead Japanese scientist, poet and Buddhist philosopher Kenji Kurazawa (1896-1933) dismissed in his day as an eccentric misfit but now actually revered in Japan. He believed in the inter-connectedness of all things – not only sentient beings and all other life forms but inert matter, rocks and earth, also the atmosphere, water, sea, snow and ice etc. and that the actions or changes in one affects everything else. He warned of the dangers of living in disharmony with nature and its resulting portent that we could be the cause of our own demise. He also believed that until all people are happy there is no individual happiness.

 

 

 

For more work by Jill Crossley please view Previously Exhibited  or  Contact the Gallery here

Previously Exhibited

Solo Exhibition

Unprotected Images - 12th July - 5th August 2017 - Click to view Exhibition

Jill Crossley, Touch Down, Digital Print on Cotton Rag, 40x30cm. $880

Jill Crossley, Touch Down, Digital Print on Cotton Rag, 40x30cm. $880

 

 

Unreliable Witness - HeadOn Photo Festival 20th May - 6th June 2015 - Click to view Exhibition

Jill Crossley - Unreliable Witness 03 - $880

Jill Crossley - Unreliable Witness 03 - $880

 

From a farm in Western Australia to the studio of iconic photographer Max Dupain, the hallmarks of Jill Crossley’s long career are excellence and diversity.

She became acquainted with photography watching her father develop images of their stud sheep and later her dream of becoming a portrait photographer crystallised.

Crossley has worked as a freelance commercial photographer in portraiture, magazine and book illustration and photographing artworks, crafts and sculpture for artists, regional galleries and publishers. Crossley has also worked for magazines (including Art & Australia) and for the ABC Studios at Gore Hill, capturing production stills for plays, musicals, panel discussions and concerts.

She spent time on assignment in Papua New Guinea, New Britain and New Ireland and has worked with the Australian Archaeological Team in Pompeii, Italy.

In 1980, she began exhibiting in solo and group shows including at the Australian Centre for Photography (1980), David Reid Gallery in Paddington (1981) and the Studio Gallery in Brisbane (1982).

Crossley has worked with some exceptional photographers. From 1957-58, Crossley was assistant to the Max Dupain, where she was inspired by the high aesthetic standards she observed. Dupain was impressed with Crossley’s work. In his review of her David Reid exhibition he said: “It would be safe to say that this little exhibition of photographs is one of the most consequential of its kind we have witnessed for some time”.

In the early 1970s, she worked in the studios of Robert Walker, another outstanding Australian.

Crossley is described as “a tenacious, talented photographer” by writer and photographer Robert McFarlane and is featured – along with Olive Cotton – in Australian Women Photographers 1840 – 1960 by Barbara Hall and Jenni Mather (1981).

Artist Statement for Unprotected Images

At first glance, Unprotected Images by Jill Crossley is a study of two contrasting trees; huge figs and wispy sheoaks.

They appear to be opposites. The figs are strong and bold. Muscular. Light and silky. Big extroverts boasting of their size and sheer presence. The sheoaks – or casuarinas – are dark and slender and murmur in clusters along waterways, casting their blanket of fine needles to preserve their mystery and quiet. Easy to overlook. Easy to underestimate. Easy to under value.

But, the thread which weaves through 88 year old Crossley’s oeuvre, is to look beyond the surface. This exhibition is a contemplation of similarity and difference with a profound message about the interconnectedness of life and the natural world.

“Ficus and casuarina are both trees,” she says. “Like people. And in spite of our diversity of cultures, and with the social upheaval and discord flamed by current political environments which emphasis those differences, we are all one.”

Crossley has been indelibly influenced by the work and philosophy of Kenji Miyazawa, the Japanese Poet of Light (1896-1933), whose progressive, environmental philosophy was derided by his contemporaries but underscored how one part of the complex natural web could not be changed without influencing all else.

In the exhibition, the figs are sensuous and svelte. Some images, which are abstractions, could be mistaken for human forms, while others contrast the fragility of aerial roots against the majesty of trunks and limbs. Their singularity is emphasised, and somehow they are rendered, solitary unique individuals in these works.

These trees – Hills Weeping Ficus – grow close to Trumper Park, Paddington, where Crossley lived earlier in her life.

Under Crossley’s care, the casuarinas shimmer with diversity, a brilliance and a range, which for most viewers is unsuspected. The dark and dour colours of this tree, their relegation as non-useful timber, is revealed as a camouflage. Crossley communicates their lyricism and charisma.

The stand in this exhibition is located behind Gosford Regional Art Gallery’s Japanese garden, not far from where Crossley now lives on the Central Coast.

The sheer ebullience, of branches, fine needle foliage, and conversation of trunks and branches give these casuarinas a community and joie-de-vivre that contrasts strongly with the ego-centricity of the figs.

“What appeals to me is their mysteriousness and their subtlety. What is hidden. I try to find patterns and try to make sense of it in an artistic way when I photograph. I would like to find poetry in them, but it is elusive.”

“I want to find an order in what initially seems confusing – and to communicate that. I hope viewers will see some of the beauty and feel some of the inspiration I get from these trees.”

While the representation of the trees in this exhibition demonstrates their opposing natures, and features, their form, beauty and life is also strongly celebrated and we, the viewers, are enriched.

Fiona Ryan-Clark

 

Download Artist Statement and Bio - Jill Crossley Unprotected Images (PDF)

 

Artist Statement for Unreliable Witness

Jill Crossley’s Unreliable Witness is a series of enigmatic images taken from a single body of water which engender a deeper contemplation within the viewer.

Crossley’s life time experience as a photographer and artist mean the images are arresting in their simultaneous simplicity and complexity. While many offer a recognisable image, a reflected gum tree for instance, as an “entry point”, the viewer is triggered to discover patterns, images and feelings residing just below the surface which reveal themselves on closer inspection.

It is as though Crossley has materialised the aphorism “still waters run deep” and these photographs transport the viewer into reverie, imagination and daydream. She has captured the duality of abstraction and naturalism.

The experience of having something hidden revealed through the lens of Crossley’s camera is an act of intimacy as well as solitude. Crossley lifts the veil on something we’ve seen many times, natural images reflected in water, and in doing so we are both let into her alternative world and made aware that it is her gift, not ours, to render the exotic from the seemingly common-place.

In a sense, the images in Unreliable Witness are meta-photographic pushing the form beyond its own medium, appearing quasi three dimensional or as if they had been created using graphite, charcoal or luscious paint.

The exhibition offers viewers a pleasurable aesthetic experience and triggers a journey into the imagination.

The images vacillate between near realism and poetic fantasy. Whatever else they are, they are a mission and each viewer imbues them with what they bring of themselves.

“Like any mirror water reflects ourselves back at us. What we see in the image is a reflection of our own selves”, Crossley says.

“I see the reality of objects, but I am drawn into the mystery of that reality. I seek to reveal or extend something which may not be obvious and to enter into it”.

Crossley’s strong affinity with landscape dates back to her childhood on a Western Australian farm during the 1930’s and her connection continues today in her Central Coast home.

“As a child I went exploring alone in areas of undisturbed bush on our property, sometimes to be thrilled by the parts I found some resonance with, a sense of comfort and warmth, some answer to an unconscious need.

During other wanderings in the stillness of early afternoon I was chilled alternatively by a frightening sense of aloneness and the feeling that when one hears the snapping of dry twigs and sticks underfoot and the exaggerated sound of my own breath, that perhaps I wasn’t alone.

“I imagined the appearance of Aboriginal people, not as they are today, but unclothed and belonging. In later years I often felt the presence of their spirit in the bush and with it, a heartfelt sympathy for their dispossession, for the severance from the essence of their being, their tribal land”.

This yearning for the familiar and the strange transcends the photographs or perhaps it is just as the poet Wordsworth said “what we perceive is to a large extent the fruit of our own imagination”.

This thoughtful exhibition embodies the central paradox of great art; what is within an image and what meaning does the audience bring?

Fiona Ryan-Clark

Download Artist Statement and Bio - Jill Crossley Unreliable Witness (PDF)