Amanda Williams | Archie Plus, 2020 - 2021 | Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney | Or your shadow, rising to meet you

Amanda Williams

Or your shadow, rising to meet you

A small arm extends, casting shadows against a wall. An orb of light envelops the scene. The arm revolves, tracing shapes as if it were dancing. At certain points, it attempts to grab the light; to grasp the glow and hold it fixed. It's an impossible game to win.

Disembodied, the arm plays with its reflected double. Together, they form pair. But this is a pair that can't ever really connect. The hands can't clasp or clutch each other. This thwarted tactility feels resonant now. Like the other photographers commissioned as part of Archie Plus, Amanda Williams offers us a tribute to touch and an admission of how unattainable (or how risky) it has seemed in 2020.

Touch may be intangible here, but the prints themselves bear marks of the artist's hand. Aberrations and alternative printing processes – invited and encouraged by Williams – testify to the fact that the works have been handled and held. Another kind of tenderness.

These photographs were made at home with the artist's daughter, the only prop a halogen lamp. The two, mother and child, spent lockdown together. Situated alongside Francesco di Simone Ferrucci's marble relief Madonna and Child (link), this body of work reads as an expression of maternal care. A portrait, even, of a quiet togetherness.


Commissioned for Archie Plus, a celebration of portraiture and the power of community that is appearing across the Gallery's ground floor and lower level 1 this summer.