LONG BLACK VEIL*
She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me ... *
Susan Purdy's photographic practice is a passionate response to serious current environmental events, while being deeply engaged with the history of the photographic medium. Using a base layer of camera-less photographs (made not taken), Purdy employs various historical techniques and approaches, particularly collage and embossing. She connects us to the expansive lineage of the European movements of Surrealist art, by utilising Dadaist strategies of play and free association. A recent collaboration with printmaker Rosalind Atkins extends this approach.
Purdy's work portrays ecological circumstances where containment is breached – as with the disasters of Fukashima and Hazelwood – and the many particulate things that fall: dust, pollen, sand, carbon, snow.
'Long Black Veil' evokes the pall of smoke that engulfed and stifled Morwell during the recent pit fire and draws a parallel with the overflow of contaminated water at the Fukashima nuclear plant, acknowledging the grief and mourning experienced by communities effected by such calamitous events.
Bringing together the artist's accumulated knowledge of European visual arts traditions, with the immediacy of personal experiences in the Latrobe Valley and Japan, Purdy presents multilayered works which reflect her desire to champion and encourage human sensitivity toward the environment.
* Long Black Veil is a 1959 country ballad, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell.