National Exhibition Register

  • Displacement 8
    Suellen Symons Displacement 8, 2013-2017
    Digital archival print on 100% cotton rag framed in perspex
    61 X 80 cm framed in perspex and wood
    Image Credit
    Suellen Symons

About the exhibition

Suellen Symons’ Displacement weaves together recent work as well as aspects from three earlier series in the one exhibition. Ideas of narrative inform each series and the exhibition as a whole.

Displacement  (2013-2017)

10 digital prints on Hannemuhle paper

We are the original displaced personalities. We are a breed apart, us theatre people.”  [1]

Displacement refers to the ability to place oneself in another time and place. According to Schacter, in Freudian psychology, displacement is an unconscious defence mechanism whereby the mind substitutes either a new aim or a new object for goals felt in their original form to be dangerous or unacceptable.[2]

The chosen photographs are part of a series I have been working on about displaced worlds/parallel universes. I’ve aspired to create art about “the reinterpretation of the Medieval” since the 1980s when I dressed up my characters (often twins) in period costume and put them in front of my painted backdrops (Privileged Mortals series 1986). 

 Displacement of humanity happens in times of upheaval. My work addresses metaphysical displacement where characters choose another identity with a group of fellow believers. Usually these displaced people have fashioned their own destiny as a safe haven for their imagination and to connect with others also displaced in a similar way.

Displacement conjures up many other aspects of living, including where to place oneself next.

 The New York Series (1988)

Six out of seventeen 20 X 24 inch Polaroids

This series resulted from an Australia Council Green Street residency in Soho New York for six months during 1988.

By day I worked hard painting, by night I went to hear music, dance, meet people. I was drawn to those who entertained for their living. The people in this series consist of theatre performers – twin sisters and the male performance artists, the magician and the escape artist.  I realised that I needed to make use of my paintings as backdrops for actors/models, Together they would bring my ideas to life.  I wanted to have repetition of the images with slight changes so as to make each work within the series a triptych or tetraptych. I made the resulting series in the 20 X 24 inch Polaroid studio in New York over 2 days.

The resulting series speaks to me about identity. to do with using historical and symbolic backdrops with a warrior woman idea of identity.

2 Divine Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) 1995

10 photographs comprising 5 cibachrome and 5 silver gelatin prints.

As a result of having an Australia Council grant to Europe and a residency at the Art Gallery of NSW atelier in Paris in 1991 & 1992 I began my fascination with the life and times of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc). When I came back to Australia (all French from my years in Paris), my Alliance Française teacher ordered me to tell the REAL story of Joan of Arc, not the orthodox version. He went into the archives of the Alliance Francaise and showed me alternative interpretations that Joan of Arc was not burned at the stake, that another woman was in her place. I decided to weave these theories into my narrative and thus began my series on how Joan of Arc rose to prominence and also eluded capture. I researched and found more evidence of this, even translated into English. So 2 Divine in this version gives emphasis to Joan of Arc’s life. (Further details are in my 15 page 2 Divine catalogue, limited numbers of which are available.)

Incorporated into the original  2 Devine exhibition was a soundscape co-developed with Megaphon Accoustic Design with vocals by Stevie Wishart. I wanted to incorporate sounds that Joan might have heard at critical moments so I made a sound installation to be heard in the round as it enveloped the photographs. Although not used in Displacement, the 2 Divine Compact Disc, 62 minutes with 13 tracks, is available for installation as an MP3 or WAV file.

 Garden of Eden from Time & Sensibility  (2013-2016)

Seven panoramas from the original series of fifteen works, some incorporating the figure in the landscape.

This work has been written about by Gina Fairley in the original catalogue essay:

In her Panorama series Symons narrows our vision, the horizontal format extending a sense of vastness and isolation. We fall into the magic of these scapes yet retain a fractured or unsettled relationship with them. The series probes how we read landscape as a meter of time. …Colour continues to be an important driver across the series, at times over saturated or hyper-real and at others ethereal and lamenting-almost sensorial- adroitly massaging our perceptions of reality and fantasy, melancholy and mythology.

[1] Addison DeWitt in “All About Eve” Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950 film starring Bette Davis which won the best picture award of that year.

 [2] Schacter, Daniel L. (2011). Psychology Second Edition. 41 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010: Worth Publishers. pp. 482–483. ISBN 978-1-4292-3719-2

Artists and Curator

Kelly-Ann Denton (Displacement series) Madeleine Tuckfield-Carrano

Suellen Symons has worked with portraiture, corporate photography, advertising and fashion, as well as fronting solo and group exhibitions. Her artwork involves people, landscapes, and fashion with a twist.

Suellen Symons talks about her work in a video HERE


Available Dates and
Exhibition Details

Available dates
31/05/2017 - 27/05/2030
Exhibition size
Over 100 sq or running metres
Originating state
Organised by
Artsite - original gallery
Contact to discuss
Web Site
Accompanying materials available
Catalogue/Book, Digital Catalogue, Education Kit, Public Program Opportunities
Other materials
I have photography books if you would like them including a large Photography Compendium II -also catalogues from all the shows available and more copies could be made. I can make an Education kit to go with the show - happy to help you do so also - I'm a Visual Arts Photography Digital Media teacher so have lots of experience & am happy to give workshops to people of any age. 2 panorama postcards I have about 500-1,000 of each that can be sold for $2 at the gallery shop
Primary contact
Suellen Symons Photography
Secondary contact
Madeleine Tuckfield-Carrano
Suellen Symons Photography, Madeleine Tuckfield-Carrano Artsite