Miriam Stannage


Western Australian artist Miriam Stannage has spent a lifetime interrogating the world through her camera, producing art that comments wryly on contemporary existence, trauma and survival. Curated by Lee Kinsella, this exhibition presents a survey of her practice over the past decade. A companion monograph, to be launched alongside the exhibition, documents and celebrates the entirety of Stannage’s fifty-year career.

For this exhibition, Stannage has worked primarily with photography. She probes fame and fragility through the series Elvis and Marilyn (Spirit Photographs), 2009– 2010, in which two tattered, life-sized celebrity cutouts are placed incongruously in the Western Australian landscape. Shot from above, these images of fallen icons are beautiful and uncanny, somehow resembling shrines and crime-scene photographs simultaneously.

Through her images, Stannage digs down into the complex relationships of human beings with the world and with each other.

Miriam Stannage, Shooter, 2015 from Security Notice series, lightjet photographs. 100 x 70 cm . Courtesy of the artist.

People, however, are rarely present: if bodies are depicted it’s only in part, or through plastic imitations like the mannequins in Paradise Lost, 2008. The gaps and missing pieces are as important as what’s visible.

A recent series, Security Notice, 2014–2015, deals directly with the notion of seeing and being seen.

This is a consistent conceptual thread running through Stannage’s work. For the artist, surveillance does not automatically represent a threat or breach of privacy, as might be inferred; rather, the omniscient eye stands for safety, order and the ability to locate oneself in the immediate surroundings.

This exhibition showcases Stannage’s deep, ongoing engagement with contemporary life and place. A creative force to be reckoned with over the course of her career, she continues to experiment, pushing her own processes and refusing to be pinned down.

Miriam Stannage: Survey 2006 – 2016
Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery
30 July – 24 September

Preview Words by Anna Dunnill