Paola Talbert

Aquatic Sky

Cyanotype printing is one of the earliest forms of photography, first developed in 1842. Cyanotypes are created by coating a surface with a photosensitive solution, placing objects on the surface and exposing it to UV light. This creates unique ‘blueprints’, ghostly silhouettes that offer a soft shadow imagery in a world dominated by hyper-sharp digital images. 

This work was initiated on Invasion Day long weekend in 2021 at the Mini Dionysus event created by the Anarco Commune on Darkinjung Country near Wisemans Ferry. 

I was inspired by the acknowledgement of country given by Tor Den Røde on the eve of the anniversary of invasion, reminding us that for thousands of years the land where we gathered was cared for and nurtured by the Darkinjung people. I wanted to connect the festival community by creating artwork, experiencing the land, and working with the sun. 

These works were developed through a cyanotype workshop I facilitated at the festival. For many of us, the event celebrated a return to the land and the great outdoors after many months at home during the Sydney lockdown period. I introduced participants to the cyanotype technique which celebrates the power of the sun and the physicality of our bodies, which connects diverse communities and helped us to quietly acknowledge the dark anniversary and honour sacred Darkinjung Country. 

This work features Sonja Haak, Monique Choy, Alli Sebastian Wolf, Dávid Rehák and Tommaso Pattelli. 

The artist would like to thank Anarco Commune, Camilla Lawson, Brett Schollum, Zio Ledeux and all the wonderful workshop participants. 

It is only through connecting and coming together with creative action that we can begin to heal our wounded country. 

Artists studio at the Alpha House Housing Co-operative. Newtown, NSW. 20 May 2017.

Paola Talbert 

Paola Talbert is an award-winning Sydney artist whose career spans 30 years. Paola’s work ranges from historic representation through to rock photography; however, she is best known for her distinctive underwater figurative works, which continue as a major form of expression. 

She is represented in public collections including Manly Art Gallery & Museum, University of Wollongong, Broken Hill Gallery and in private collections in Australia and Europe. 

In 2019, Paola photographed Sydney band White Knuckle Fever for the CD/ vinyl release of All I Wanted was a Kebab with both musicians modelling underwater at Little Bay Beach, Sydney. In 2017, ‘2:22’ an Australian/US feature film production represented 11 of Paola’s photographic artworks in various filmed scenes. 

Paola’s commissioned works include Women in Uniform (2015), an exhibition featuring contemporary portraits alongside historical images and stories of women in uniform for the Marrickville Remembers Anzac Centenary program. Seven underwater ocean figure colour photographs were commissioned by Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, Marrickville (2012). Women of Macarthur/Celebrating Change portrays women who worked in Aged Care facilities in Western Sydney, commissioned by the Office of Western Sydney and the NSW Department of Women, and shown in Campbelltown Art Gallery and Customs House (2003). Women of the West (2002) is a series of 84 photographs recognising and celebrating women’s diverse roles in regional communities, commissioned by Broken Hill City Gallery and Arts NSW. 

Paola lectures in Photography at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at University of Sydney. She won the Waverley Art Prize for Works on Paper (2002) and the Gosford Art Gallery prize (2004). She was a finalist in Art and About (2004) by Sydney City Council and was award second prize in the Wyong Art Prize (2005). 

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