The whole measure of nature is a metaphor of the human mind. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Nature’, 1836
Natural Inspiration is an exhibition drawn from the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Victoria that features the work of some of the most celebrated international and Australian landscape photographers. For these practitioners the natural world is a complex site that can stir higher emotions; show areas of potential economic wealth; be a flashpoint for conservation concerns; and depict the wildernesses that enliven the spirits.
The depiction of the landscape is one of the most culturally saturated photographic subjects and the awareness that what we view are idealised ‘landscapes’ and not ‘nature’, certainly informs the way that we look at these photographs. However, no matter how complex the interplay of nature and culture is in these seamless photographic fragments of the world, such considerations never wholly override the emotions that they can arouse.
Photographers have often drawn their inspiration from nature. For these practitioners the natural world is complex and emotive. Through a fascinating collection of works that span 140 years of landscape photography, this exhibition explores the emotional spectrum that nature can inspire. Natural Inspiration features works by some of the most celebrated practitioners.