Julie Williams When First I Knew This Place (Water Magicians)

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Syndicate at Danks 2012

The source of my imagery is a local waterhole nestled in a river in the Great Dividing Range near my home in the Vale of Clwydd NSW. It is said the grieving process involves returning to places familiar to the bereaved prior to the loss. I have discovered the local Wiradjui people see this waterhole as a sacred women's place. It is the head of the east/west flow and a site for women to tell their stories. This is now my story.

The sense of awe from nature is powerful and I look to capture this within my work. These images are created at the moment of pressing the shutter. There is no cropping or manipulation. As I look through the camera at an area of water the size of a human hand I press the shutter to seize vast, unfathomable landscapes from the flowing water. I choose long shutter speeds, as one speck of light, given enough time to move through the frame, creates an illuminated brushstroke. The photographs capture the essence of the wildness and the unpredictability of nature creating images that viewers often perceive to be paintings.

Evocative of space and atmosphere, these images are taken over a period of months throughout the ever changing light and flow. I am compelled to capture images beyond my comprehension, enticed by the heightened feelings of the distance of space I can never reach. At times I’m on a rock in the river, crouching close to a gentle flow with light shimmering which is at times blinding, continually moving and changing. Sometimes I am back from the flow positioned on a large flank of pink granite as the water charges after heavy rain, my focus still on the water as it moves with vast speed through my camera frame. Water, for me, is a universal metaphor for the passage of time, death and renewal. 

I’ve been coming to this waterhole for many years but only recently have delved in with my camera. The location has yielded to me some of its watery secrets, yet I know there is an unlimited source of imagery for me here at this place. I just need to look and be ready to capture it. 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.

Video Veil

Thus video extends my practice into moving imagery. Veil is what hovers between us and the knowing. It is the watery curtain of intricate light that both links and separates realms of existence. Glimpsing through, I see unanchored, sublime landscapes within the timeless motion of the infinite. Awash with light in the presence of water, the closer I come to the knowing the more it eludes.

Veil was a finalist in
2012 Heysen Prize for Interpretation of Place, Hahndorf Academy, Hahndorf SA
2012 Wilson Visual Arts Award, Trinity Catholic College, Lismore NSW
2013 Fishers Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown NSW