Annette Willis, who collaborates with Australian poet Jill Jones and who has a great interest in New Zealand writers such as Janet Frame, stayed at the centre in 2012.
Annette has pursued photography full-time since 2002. In that period she has had ten solo exhibitions at galleries in Australia, including Gallery East in Sydney and Wollongong and Horsham Regional Galleries. From the outset, she has been interested in producing narrative photo essays featuring strong images that are deliberate lyrical abstractions. Her photographic style is defined by striking, closely cropped compositions.
Her early work revolved around the ephemeral: street art and street artists, abandoned buildings and cemeteries, the odd things that turned up in the streets and crevices of local neighbourhoods, as well as nature images. The play of light and shadow on the transient was emphasised in her first few exhibitions. This work gained finalist places in international photography awards including the Black & White Spiders (2007, 2008) and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women in Photography (2011).
In 2006 Annette added portraiture to her visual storytelling as a way of drawing attention to subjects not often examined. Her portraiture work offers insight into the lives of people abandoned in boarding houses in the Inner West of Sydney. A current series documents Australian writers at home with their pets and passions. Annette has been a finalist in many Australian and international portraiture prizes including Head On, Olive Cotton, the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, Sydney Life: Art and About and the London Photographic Association Portraiture Prize, Let’s Face It. In 2006 she won the Wollongong Portraiture Prize.
Annette has long been fascinated by the often dichotomous relationship between the Australian landscape and human habitation. She examined this relationship in several exhibitions (2002, 2004) and spent two years photographing the derelict Quarantine Station at North Head in Sydney before it was reconfigured as a resort. Some of this work was exhibited as Reimagined Topographies at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2009.
Her new work is a broader and deeper extrapolation of the relationship between human habitation and the landscape. Lost Geographies sheds light on the lives and histories of the people, places and communities who live on or north of Goyder’s Line in South Australia. Her past art practice has seen her awarded a residency for this project in 2012 with the Bundanon Trust at Arthur Boyd’s former studio on the Shoalhaven River in NSW.