From a farm in Western Australia to the darkroom of an Australian photographic icon, the career of photographer Jill Crossley has been remarkably diverse.
On a farm in Western Australia, with her brother at her side, Jill Crossley would watch their father processing his photographic prints, fascinated as pictures of his stud sheep slowly emerged from pyrex dishes and a washbasin. From this humble beginning in a rural darkroom, Crossley’s dream of becoming a portrait photographer crystalised and she went on to build a successful photographic career.
Throughout her career, Crossley's work has been diverse. She has worked as a freelance commercial photographer in the areas of portraiture, magazine and book illustration, and photographing artworks, crafts and sculpture for artists, regional galleries and publishers. Crossley has also worked for magazines (including Art & Australia) and for the ABC Studios at Gore Hill doing production stills for plays, musical productions, panel discussions and concerts and then worked for nine years as a medical photographer. She spent years as an Australian Volunteer Abroad in Papua New Guinea, New Britain and New Ireland, and then worked in Pompeii for three years, as a photographer with the Australian Archaeological Team. In 1980 she started exhibiting in solo and group shows including at the Australian Centre for Photography (1980), David Reid Gallery in Paddington (1981) and the Studio Gallery in Brisbane (1982).
Crossley has worked alongside some exceptional talents. From 1957- 58 Crossley was assistant to iconic Australian photographer Max Dupain, where she was inspired by the high aesthetic standards she observed. Dupain, was similarly impressed with his assistant’s work. When reviewing Crossley’s exhibition at David Reid Gallery, Dupain remarked, "It would be safe to say that this little exhibition of photographs is one of the most consequential of its kind we have witnessed for some time". In the early 1970s she worked in the studios of another outstanding Australian photographer, Robert Walker.
Described by photographer and writer Robert McFarlane as, "a tenacious, talented photographer", Crossley is featured in Barbara Hall and Jenni Mather’s groundbreaking publication Australian Women Photographers 1840-1960 (first published 1981), alongside other pioneering female photographic luminaries, Olive Cotton among them.
In her latest exhibition, Beyond Looking, Crossley returns to her love of black-and-white photography and captures, in monochromatic beauty, the abstract weavings and shapes of common plants and bushes that form the backdrop of her home on the Central Coast. Taken using a small digital camera with a zoom lens – which Crossley believes allows for greater spontaneity and an opportunity to explore subjects from restricted viewpoints – the images in Beyond Looking exhibit the complexity and simplicity of natural forms.
Beyond Looking will be exhibited at Redfern's Art Here Gallery, Wednesday to Saturday, until April 27. Click herefor more information.