Suellen Symonds Doubletake


Coterie Danks Street Gallery Head On Photo Festival 2016

Coterie features three pairs of twins from the ongoing series Doubletake.

It was growing up with twins as siblings in my family that influenced me as I became aware of their close bond. In my twenties, I realised that many of my friends were twins. They impressed me as two people who shared a close communication bond, just as I had witnessed in my own family.

So began a series of photographed images of twins that started in 1984, the final year of my Post Graduate studies at the College of Fine Arts UNSW. I began documenting the twins I knew. Each of the twins in this exhibition have been photographed using analogue and digital cameras: I photographed my entire series of twins in medium format film from 1984 to 2006 using a Mamiya RB 6X7 camera. For the last twelve years I have been primarily using digital DSLR cameras.

Twins photographed in the exhibition are Elisabeth Burke and Catherine De Lorenzo, Catherine and Jennifer Strutt (the Strutt sisters), and Alexandria and Isabella Voce.

Elisabeth Burke and Catherine De Lorenzo We met through a friend in 1982. I had three photographic sessions with them between 1984 and 2012. When I met her, Elisabeth, a corporeal-mime artist, had been touring Europe with the troupe she co-founded: Entr’Acte Theatre. Catherine was already an academic and a lecturer in the architecture faculty at UNSW. Catherine has written extensively on art history including an illuminating piece on my series Her stories: the Wentworth Women, a re-enactment of how I imagined the Wentworth Women (William Charles Wentworth’s wife Sarah and seven daughters) lived which I directed & photographed at Vaucluse House and later exhibited there in 1995.

Alex and Bella Voce I photographed Alexandria and Isabella in 2005 and in 2011 in Canberra. Alex completed her PhD in psychology at ANU. She is looking at the link between casual methamphetamine (ice) use and psychosis. Bella is currently working as a researcher at the Australian National Institute of Criminology. She is planning to do a PhD in psychology at ANU as well, with a focus on forensic (crime-based) psychology.

Catherine and Jennifer Strutt were first photographed in four sessions between 2006 and 2016 Kensington St Chippendale I met them through another friend who is a twin. The photograph here was taken outside the exhibition the sisters held at Kensington Contemporary Gallery Chippendale. Hearing music makes them see colours because they have synaesthesia. They are both musicians and artists and collaborate with each other in both mediums.

Suellen Symons