The mechanics of Petrina Hicks’ studio practice has only ever been known to the artist and her models. Each shoot session can take as long as seven hours to complete, an exercise in precision and patience for everybody involved. To this day, Hicks prefers analogue methods to capture the images she presents to us, by way of wishing to preserve the traditional film discipline. Petrina Hicks does not even have an Instagram account, which is why the presentation of Polaroids at Michael Reid Sydney could be considered the artists most courageous project to date.
Petrina Hicks shoots all her work on either her medium format Hasselblad camera or large format Linhof Technika, instruments that have been paramount in directing photographic history. These cameras are equipped with polaroid mechanisms that enable an ability to gauge colour, lighting, and composition before committing to film. Since the year 2000, Hicks has amassed and archived a considerable number of polaroid test prints, a collection that now narrates a life’s work in ways that only pictures can.
Containing over 400 individual images, Polaroids is an illustrative survey of Petrina Hicks’ studio methods, from her steady beginnings as a commercial photographer, through to experimental test prints of Fly Through The Candles Mouth Like A Singeless Moth, 2021. In this documentary exhibition audiences will witness the collision of ideas, the artist’s failures and successes, the funny, beautiful, bizarre and the bewildering. Also on view are a selection of the very first test prints of Lauren Dawes, Hicks’ most prominent model, creative muse and friend.
In Polaroids, the artists heightened imagination, technical mastery and sensitive understanding of her subject matter is present in every image on display, meticulously installed and culminating in a truly authentic conversation.