Collection Online

Southern Cross to bear and behold – Flame
from the Southern Cross to bear and behold series 2007

inkjet print
71.6 × 131.9 cm (image) 93.6 × 152.8 cm (sheet)
Place/s of Execution
Mitre Lake, Wimmera, Victoria
Accession Number
Australian Photography
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2010
© Courtesy of the artist
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

Jill Orr has been a performance artist since 1976 and has consistently used her own body to explore ecological and social issues. She often works with photographers to document her performances and in this instance worked with Naomi Herzog who photographed her at Mitre Lake in Victoria’s arid Wimmera district.

In the two photographs from Southern Cross – to bear and behold, Orr is shown walking across the salt encrusted surface of Mitre Lake, improbably holding a paper umbrella that has burst into flames. Orr’s metaphorical performance symbolises our difficult relationship with the landscape in which we live.

Although Mitre Lake is a natural salt pan (unlike other areas where degradation has caused salination), the fragility of its appearance has a clear environmental message. As Orr observes of this startling image (which she reworked from an earlier performance), ‘I have reemployed it again given that the early environmental warnings of the late 70s and 80s have been largely ignored and global warming has reached global and political urgency. Mitre Lake is symbolic of this crisis. The new image has a different resonance … there is both apocalypse and renewal’.