404 GEORGE ST,
FITZROY VIC 3065
23° and Rising presents two discrete bodies of work by Melbourne-based photographers Matthew Stanton and Abigail Varney, examining the ecological impacts faced by the communities of Australia’s northern tropics in Darwin and Far North Queensland. The exhibition’s title both suggests the Tropic of Capricorn—which dissects Australia and marks the global tropical zone—and alludes to the impacts of climate change on the stability of global weather patterns.
Stanton and Varney’s respective series investigate the environmental and psychological volatility inherent to these geographical extremities. Both artists have ventured to the northernmost regions of Australia, engaging with the communities that inhabit them, creating unsettling and intriguing bodies of work that form abstract portraits of these seemingly-foreign, distant lands.
Matthew Stanton presents a selection of works from the series Deep North (2014–2019), examining the connections between ecology, psychology and the differing time scales within the landscapes of Far Northern Queensland. Stanton’s images were produced over a six year period, and were made using an 8×10” view camera. Stanton’s highly detailed and large-scale photographs chart the teeming river surfaces, stilled recesses and storied topographies of this northern environment.
Abigail Varney’s The build up (2019) refers to the acute climatic patterns of the tropics, documenting Darwin’s weather transition from dry to monsoonal and the psychological anticipation that ensues at this juncture. Varney’s work captures the tension, and eventual relief of this unique climate, and its effect on the people, landscapes and fauna that inhabit it. Native birds perch languidly on roofs; creeks and oceans are cloudy and restless; the locals celebrate Christmas in sweaty resignation. As Varney states: ‘There is a steady rise in ambient temperature, oppressive humidity. A chorus of dark threatening clouds roll through only to produce a few tantalising raindrops. The air remains thick and heavy. Mango madness prevails; mangos ripen and fall from trees while the people experience emotional lability and unstable moods. At last, the rain brings peace and equilibrium.’