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                                             b. 1945, Aoteara, New Zealand

                                             Lived and worked in Adelaide, Australia

Ian North was an artist who was also a widely published writer on the visual arts. He employed photography and painting to address considerations of place, identity and post-conceptual authenticity, in recent years crossing the Pacific by container ship and undertaking a sea voyage to East Antarctica to photograph the maritime environment. Has produced many bodies of work, including the portfolio Felicia: South Australia 1973–78; Canberra Suite 1980­-81 (pioneering medium format colour film as an art medium); three Pseudo Panorama series, 1985–1988 (combining painting and colour photography); Home & Away, 1992; Haven, 2001/2013; East Antarctia 1915, 2015; Southern Ocean off Snares Islands 2015.

He exhibited in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (sixteen solo exhibitions), and in group exhibitions in London, Asia and the United States. His work is represented in fifteen Australian public collections. His publications include books on the Australian modernists Dorrit Black and Margaret Preston in the 1970s and a range of essays on the impact of the Indigenous art revolution (including ‘Expanse’, 1998, ‘StarAboriginality’, 2001, and ‘The Kindness of Kathleen Petyarre’ 2001). He also addressed the intellectual relationship between art and neuro-aesthetics (‘Notes Towards a Natural Way to do Art History’, in North [ed.], Visual Animals, 2007).

North was Director of the Manawatu Art Gallery, Aotearoa/New Zealand 1969-71, immigrating to Australia to become Curator of Paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia 1971-80 and Foundation Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia 1980-84. He subsequently served on the National Gallery's Council, working with curators on the NGA’s acquisition policy, and also on the boards of the Biennale of Sydney and the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. His qualifications include MA and MFA degrees in photography from the University of New Mexico. He held a personal chair at the University of South Australia where he was Head of the South Australian School of Art (1984-1993). He was Adjunct Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Adelaide where he was a member of the J M Coetzee Centre for Creative Arts.

In 2014 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) and a Doctor of Arts honoris causa from the University of Adelaide.



FLEURIEU                                                             2017


HARBINGER                                                        2015


EAST ANTARCTICA, 1915                                    2015




ADELAIDE SUITE                                                  2010


SAIL AWAY                                                          2009


HAVEN                                                               2001


CANBERRA SUITE                                     1980 - 1981


FELICIA                                                               1973


PAINTINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS                         1985





Commencing in photography, via the virtue of the gift of a medium format camera at age 12, Ian North has been making photographs for six decades. One of his recurring subjects is the South Australian Fleurieu Peninsula and in this display, timed to coincide with the launch of a publication on North, ten panoramic colour photographs continue his interrogation of landscape and identity.

- Art Gallery of South Australia, 2018





Direct contact battles between two contestants occur in triangular spaces. Physical triangulations reflect the opponent’s respective states of ‘desire’, ‘reality’ and ‘expectation’ within the binary law of domination and subjugation that maintains them, reflecting a global system of desire and fate continuously moving and consuming each-other.

As a primal tension structure, a triangulation indicates our existence as products of desire (mother-father-child), as natural bodies integrated in a social space of com-promise (political fate), to consume and satisfy production (economic fate), to deal with a contentious existence in an occupied space, subject to personal and external beliefs.

The competition strive for difference where difference is not allowed to occur. Competitors wear neutral white outfits and abstract “landscape” masks. Referencing classical Greek tragedy, the masks eliminate identity and transform the contenders into anonymous territories, each competing to conquer the opponent. The structure conforms to a territorial battleground where the actions, through infinite repetition, direct towards a sterilization of the external image, where cultural judgment is deprived of its absolute force.

What is desired is manifest: a struggle for difference or a violent acceptance of equality


Armed with electric hair clippers, two contenders battled against each other. To neutralize individual status, contenders wore white overalls and a white abstract mask. Competitors battled to overpower each other, attacking and shaving the head of the other, able only to shave a small amount of hair before their roles were overturned, dominance and subjugation. Eventually, neither contender had any hair left to cut. Bald, they returned to their resting positions.


Hair eliminated and not allowed to grow back. The body is controlled by force, restricting its capacity for difference. Denied its production, hair is hindered from protection or image production (individuality). Through cycles of domination and sub-mission, the action is inconclusive: no one wins, and individual signs are neutralized. Bodies are rendered non-productive, left in a perennial symbiotic tension.

East Antarctica, 1915



‘There are twelve images in this show, each about 55 x 150 cm. They are inkjet prints of East Antarctica, the remotest part. I took them in 2012, on a voyage commemorating the centenary of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctica Expedition (AAE). I used film, the negatives of which were digitally printed. I drew on the prints with the simplest and most basic of media, charcoal (unforgiving though, on the soft art paper I used). One work is left pristine, paused as it were.

You might be able to tell me what they are all about. Clearly they play fast and loose with scale, and hence meaning. Sure, the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and World War One overlapped, if not as literally as depicted here. Then of course there is melting, gravity, entropy and the operations of nature. Someone I showed these works to spoke of an over-riding sense of crisis. Maybe that is to say enough.’

– Ian North: extract from a letter to a friend, 17 February 2015