To the Sea presents two distinct perspectives of a journey taken side by side.
It started in 2003, when Trent Parke and Narelle Autio drove around Australia—a road trip that changed their lives in more ways than one. It saw the birth of their first child Jem and of their independently acclaimed series; Parke’s foreboding Minutes to Midnight and Autio’s celebratory Watercolours. To the Sea presents an alternative tale of that trip, and many others that followed. By interweaving unseen images from the artists’ photo archive, this new story is more meandering, uncensored, an internal monologue of sorts. As the title suggests, To the Sea, is about the journey more than its destinations, responding to emotional and psychological terrain as much as their immediate physical one.
Parke’s works take shape as four individually titled photo books, with each unravelling a narrative through a trail of images. The remarkable is revealed where you’d least expect it; branches in the undergrowth, the dust cloud from a speeding vehicle, the mass moth murder at the hands of a sheet of flypaper. All are transformed from the ordinary to extraordinary, somehow abstracted, and beautiful. Stories are formed out of these collections of moments, with each image connecting to the next. Playing with scale, some images are printed strikingly large, while the majority take on a storyboard quality, as strips of small, intimate works stretch sideways across the gallery wall. Within the content there is a levelling of the banal and breathtaking, where lines and light recur in vast landscapes and tiny details alike.
In To the Sea, Autio and Parke’s intuitive responses to light, and life, offer so much more than the simple documentation of a trip. Like stories within a story, their works reflect on the nature of subjectivity: our intensely unique and private observations of the world, and, if you look long enough and close enough, the truth that everything eventually ties together.