Having worked as a photojournalist with international and national newspapers, Autio remains attuned to dramatic moments of heightened tension, producing work with a poetic sensibility that challenges the limits of photo-documentation. Whether captured frolicking in the frothy collision of waves and bodies at the water’s edge, floating on the ocean’s smooth surface waiting for another swell or picnicking upon a verdant swathe of parkland, the figures in Narelle Autio’s photographs are ordinary people caught within almost extraordinary tableaux. The Seventh Wave, a collaboration with partner Trent Parke, features lyrical black and white images of swimmers taken from beneath the surface of the water. Taken from atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Not of this Earth series offers telescopic views into a strangely static world occupied by figures shrunk to miniature proportions, providing sharp contrast to the immersion of Autio and her subjects in the atmosphere, energy and drama of beach culture presented in the Watercolours series. “I spend a lot of the day running up and down the water’s edge trying to capture this particular sensation…The kids playing in the shadows, scream and laugh…I get in amongst them…I’m swamped by the wave and feel their energy soaking into me.” (Narelle Autio quoted in Virginia Baxter, “The Sea is in Them”, Artlink, 24(3), 2004, p.33).
“…Arriving back in Australia [in 1998] proved to be an awakening for me…I realized there was so much to photograph, things I had grown up with that I knew about and loved. A way of life that I had previously taken for granted. The only inspiration I needed was this country and the ability to see it with new eyes”. (Narelle Autio 2006)