Susan NORRIE: artist

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About the work

Susan Norrie came to prominence in the 1980s with paintings rich in references to contemporary popular culture and history that explored ideological concerns in contemporary society. They often created a make-believe world of fact and fable to challenge our ability to recognise truth in a world of media unreality. Her works have a continuing capacity to disturb by framing everyday objects in an isolated situation which invests them with a surrealistic unreality that collapses syntactic structures and linear narratives. The 'shock' is often from a combination of beauty and ugliness in a world that can evoke menace, threat and despair.

Enola makes reference to the bombing of Hiroshima and the imagery creates an environment where the world is an unfamiliar place. Glaring light, slowed motion and the general absence of the usual bustle of a city recall other fictional reconstructions of the aftermath of nuclear disasters.

Like most of Norrie's works Enola is not contained by the specifics of a single event but rather creates in a zone of evocation and association. Filmed at an architectural theme park in Nikko, Japan the camera pans across this miniature monument to global culture while the soundtrack plays Burt Bacharach's 'Walk on by' and the theme song from Disney's most popular attraction 'It's a small world'.

Enola presents a fragile celebration of humanity's resilience and capacity for survival. Norrie’s elegiac poem considers the past and future for today's children. The atomic past of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain in the consciousness of three generations as a site of contemporary terror. Simultaneously it is equally, in popular culture, a site of inspiration for science fiction, manga and animation. Enola’s mood of uncanny perfection drifts toward the sinister, even the intolerable as this doomed city stands metonymically for all present-day cities, ominously underscored by the nagging thought that this is too good to be true. Norrie’s work articulates a fundamental question of civic responsibility: what legacy will we create for the children of tomorrow?
Artist/Maker and role
Susan NORRIE: artist
DVD projection with stereo sound 8:40 minutes.
Credit line
Purchased through the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2009
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the installations in our collection.