This July, acclaimed Melbourne-based photographer Kate Ballis will unveil a breathtaking body of work titled Glace Noir at Darlinghurst’s Black Eye Gallery, signalling her first Sydney showcase. Shot using the classic Hollywood ‘day for night’ technique, the austerely elegant works depict the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina from varying angles, unearthing a series of ambiguous landscapes that play on light, tone, texture and scale. The photographs capture a serene stillness in time and space while simultaneously revealing a glacial underworld heaving with life force.
The dark, inky tones juxtaposed with puddles of celestial blues exude an almost intergalactic aesthetic. Invoking a sense of ambiguity as to the time and place of each photo, the artist emphasises the notion of day as night and night as day with interchangeable light that outlines mystery and intrigue in each depiction.
"The images are neither day nor night and are devoid of sky, which makes you feel like you are encapsulated in the slow moving stillness of the glacier. You can feel the breath of the glacier and the blood-like liquid flowing through its venous canals," says Ballis.
Nature as inspiration is a core ingredient in Ballis’s ethos and has been a recurring subject for the artist, finding beauty and form in the earth’s elements, exploring the patterns and textures found within the natural world and combining scale and context to create images that, while being wholly grounded in reality, feel other-worldly and intensely capture the imagination.
“The thing I was most drawn to was the compositions of the glacial lakes and forms, rather than the true colours. The tour guide said in passing that the overcast day brought out the blues in the glacial lakes, and I could see the conditions were something special. I started thinking about what the glaciers would look like at night, or on another planet,” she says.
Black Eye Gallery’s owner and director Tom Evangelidis is thrilled to welcome Ballis to exhibit at his space. “Glace Noir draws the viewer in to an almost surreal, sensual world. The works are superbly crafted, truly unique in their presentation and execution. We are very excited and looking forward to showing Kate’s work," he says.
A former media and entertainment lawyer, Kate decided to forego the corporate life in favour of taking pictures. Getting the opportunity to work under Miles Aldridge in London was the push she needed to make the leap of faith.
Unprecedented in scale and ambition, Glace Noir will run from 4-16 July and feature 16 individual works available in limited edition batches of 10.