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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Joyful sadness

by Dr Christopher Chapman, 1 October 2016

Vy (Cowsill) 2016 by Rozalind Drummond
Vy (Cowsill) 2016 by Rozalind Drummond

Here’s a picture of someone where the story of what’s happening isn’t clear. Is this person – her name is Vy – embarking on a journey? But she doesn’t seem to be carrying anything with her. Is she leaving someone? Maybe she has followed this footpath/ bike-path into the bush in order to get some solace from nature – to escape the nearby edges of the city.

Photographer Rozalind Drummond sometimes selects her subjects – often they are friends and neighbours – because they suggest a certain emotion or state of mind (perhaps reflection, restlessness, or patience). The setting of the photograph might be chosen to align with this – or to make a poetic connection. So, as an artist, Drummond is creating the impression of a bigger story and leaving it to us to fill in the gaps.

As for me, I think that this photo looks as though Vy has received some sad news about a loved one and she has sought out some space to process it. There’s a sense of freeing airiness in the bush location – I can imagine the bird sounds, the leaves rustling.

Rozalind Drummond’s photographs in the exhibition Tough and tender let us bring our imagination to the act of looking – to conjure the delicate and uncertain emotions of sadness-joy, freedom-relief, love-regret. 

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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