Image: Sorcha Wilcox

Image: Sorcha Wilcox

New Photographers: Q&A with Sorcha Wilcox


Deakin University graduate, Sorcha Wilcox was nominated for New Photographers by Patrick Pound. Sorcha tells us about being inspired by Helen Chadwick, the inspiration behind her new work for PHOTO 2021 and how she is unlikely to become a commercial photographer.

Hello Sorcha, please start by telling us how you would describe your practice.

I would describe my creative practice as experimental and not necessarily outcome-based. I’m interested in creating fields of visual material to explore in different ways. These processes usually commence with an analogue camera and the visual material generated is then integrated into other practices including video and sonic explorations.

What will you be exhibiting as part of PHOTO 2021’s New Photographers exhibition at SEVENTH Galllery?

I’m excited to exhibit a new work called Wild Atlantic Way. It features some photographs of the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast with a projected video of a sonic performance response. I may push some of the video further to create another image or series of images but I haven’t fully explored it yet.

What inspired this project?

My partner and I took a 5 week trip to Europe at the end of 2019 and the first stop was to visit my family back in Ireland. Every time I go back it feels like home. I have never really felt at home in Australia. The day prior to visiting the Cliffs my analogue SLR stopped working and so I was only able to take heinous quality images on my crappy old phone which I was disappointed with. I felt that the images did not capture the magnitude of that environment and location so I decided to respond to the imagery that I had in a way that expressed how I actually felt about the event of visiting the Cliffs.

Can you tell us about the process of making this work?

I printed the three photographs of the Cliffs that I managed to get into little 4×6 holiday style snaps. They looked awful. I then used the Spatial studio at Magnet studios in Coburg to project the photographs and make four sonic responses – electric guitar drone, percussive drums, a vocal track and a harmonising vocal track. Riffing off the lo-fi quality of the original photos I used a very old DLSR to make the video and recorded the audio on a single Zoom mic. After mixing the audio tracks and putting everything together I created a four-frame video of the responses. That’s where it is at presently. As mentioned above I’m considering using video stills to compose another image or series of images that are perhaps more representative of the location than the original images.

You were nominated and selected for PHOTO 2021’s New Photographers exhibition at SEVENTH Gallery. What does it mean to you to participate in this program?

I’m so excited about this program. The works are so interesting. I love seeing artists pushing boundaries and exploring photographic image making, and even extrapolating photographic images, in such amazing ways. The works are so unique. I think that the curation of this show is quite special and showcases emerging photographers who’s practices really question and explore where photography can go. Such a great show, really interesting young artists.

How did you studies at Deakin University help shape your practice?

I studied a double degree of Teaching (secondary) and Arts at Deakin University during 2006-2012. It wasn’t really until third year photography when I studied an experimental unit that I found a ‘zone’. We were shown a documentary on Helen Chadwick which blew my mind. When I started proposing ideas to my teachers about using fish scales and squid and jelly and cooking my negatives and making them look like they had eczema their responses were extremely encouraging, with lots of probing and forcing me to push the ideas further. When I returned to Deakin to study Honours in 2015 that was when I had the opportunity to really focus on experimental practice. And then when I was told I could include sound! Well… that changed everything for me. I did this a lot in my PhD research and my supervisors, Jondi Keane and Patrick Pound, were fantastic. I am very messy and chaotic in my thinking, and unable to follow instructions, so there was something about ‘yes, you can do whatever you want’ that was very helpful for me. Experimentation is really where it’s at for me.

Image: Helen Chadwick,[Enfleshings I],1989

Image: Helen Chadwick,Enfleshings I,1989

What do you hope audiences take from your work?

I just hope that they enjoy the experience. I hope that it could make people think about where an artist sits within their creative practice, as in are they deliberately passive or active? Does the artist want to reveal something about themselves or does the artist want to hide in or behind the artwork?

If your work at PHOTO 2021 was a song, what would it be?

Possibly a doom/drone version of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Sun Goes Down’. If someone hasn’t already done that then I better make a version soon.

Which other artists or exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing at PHOTO 2021?

I recently went to DESTINY which was amazing. Was waiting so long for that one! Damn COVID. Looking forward to Reconfigured/Rediscovered. So excited about that show. I think that will be my jam, definitely. Also Sara, Peter and Tobias’ The Merge looks really interesting. The line up for PHOTO 2021 is huge.

And finally, what advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

Don’t bother yourself with commercial photography because you’re going to hate it.

Founding Partners
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  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
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01–24 March