“It had never really occurred to me to have a show of my photos in conjunction with my mother,” says Sally McInerney, whose work will be exhibited alongside her mother Olive Cotton’s as part of this year’s Head On Photo Festival. “Then I saw that actually many of my images reflected an aspect of her, and common things we liked and responded to visually.”
Mother & Daughter: A Conversation is a microcosm of Cotton (who earned a reputation as a pioneering photographer alongside her childhood friend Max Dupain) and McInerney’s life in rural Australia. The collection will explore the common threads between McInerney and Cotton’s work. After an earlier marriage to Dupain, Olive Cotton married McInerney’s father Ross, and moved to rural Australia taking with her the tools of her craft. On the farm, and in relative isolation, photography became significant in both women’s lives.
“I used to try to carry a camera around with me wherever I went, even if I was just going into the bush or playing in the creek with my brother,” says McInerney, whose photographs still depict journeys through landscapes and cities. Her images, such as those in the series Uncivilised Scenes, are a collection of abandoned objects and atmospheric landscapes that reflect both the stillness and austerity seen in her mother’s work and a dissonant quality of her own invention.
A shared interest in natural phenomena ties Cotton and McInerney’s work together. This was cultivated growing up in an area where, “Interesting clouds and the shapes of certain dead trees were completely normal themes in everyday talk,” says McInerney. As a result of this exhibition McInerney realised that, “Although my mother and I never had photo analysing or critiquing sessions we naturally did absorb certain ways of looking and thinking and responding to things.”
Mother & Daughter: A Conversation opens on Tuesday May 13 at Damian Minton Gallery and runs until May 24.