On a Quiet Day, I Can Hear Her Breathing

Wed 10th August, 2022 – Sun 4th September, 2022
Woollahra Gallery
548 New South Head Road, Double Bay
Price: Free
Australian artist Rae Begley specialises in film photography. She works in a deliberately slow and meditative way, capturing the beauty and fragility of our planet in analogue.

In this free exhibition, Begley shares a number of photographs taken during physically demanding expeditions. It includes works developed during an artist’s residency with the indigenous community of Coyo in the Atacama Desert, Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world.

“I’m interested in the view of Earth as it exists in the vast expanse of the universe,” Begley tells Broadsheet. “The Earth will outlive us as humans, and I find this a curious thing to ponder and to consider how the function of landscapes are presented.”

Inspired by Ansel Adams’ words “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”, the artist says she loves the considered approach of working with film. “Every step of the process impacts on the final work – the selection of the film, the camera you use, the settings of the camera, the composition of the image, the light and conditions at the time of shooting, your energy and mood, the processing of film, then the final handprinting from the negative.

“I’m not interested in speed and fast-tracking the beautiful process of this discovery. I’m fascinated by the science of photography. There is so much information the film negative holds that the eye can’t see; I love that it’s recorded in that moment, and when scaled up you rediscover that moment,” she says.

Of all the photographs in the exhibition, one that holds a lasting memory for Begley is Great Spirit’s House “due to the sheer challenge of the experience”. It was taken 2860 metres up, in Pucon, at one of Chile’s most active volcanoes.

“It [the volcano] is also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning ‘great spirit’s house’. I hiked for four hours in cold conditions to reach the top of the crater to peer inside, which involved an icepick and crampons on my boots to climb up the ice … I only had time to shoot three frames, as the climb is dangerous so we had to get to the top and back down swiftly.”

On a Quiet Day, I Can Hear Her Breathing runs until September 4. Entry is free.