Small Black Glove


It seems I have always been a collector. Anything. Things that I admire, am fascinated by or things that make me smile. A lot of the time it might be a keepsake, a helpful reminder of a place or time I don’t want to forget. The physical touch of a curiously dried out leaf can take me where I found it in an instant. As do my photographs. When I am not collecting things, I collect photographs. They are the memories I would like to retain. For whatever reason they are the moments I need, nor want to forget. They help me remember what is important to me.

The Summer of Us started in early 2007 when Trent and I moved our family to a beachside home in Adelaide. The beach and the water have always been a huge part of my life and I am forever drawn to it. Somehow being by the sea helps with whatever emotional or physical need I have at the time. Now with two young boys by my side it was all about discovering. Their eyes, not as critical or judgemental opened a door of curiosity.  The more we looked the more treasures turned up. Strange sea-strewn items, lost or forgotten their history unknown. A beloved thong, an old, seaweed encrusted glove, discarded knickers, a rusty watch. I was intrigued by the unknown reasons of how they might have got there, the stories they might tell if they could. I became obsessed and nothing was left behind. Soon my collection also included the dead animals and fish that were left by the outgoing tide.

I brought them back to the studio and surrounded them with strobes. Every insignificant thing suddenly seemed more precious while it visited my altar of photography. As I began to photograph, I was forced to study them. Individually I was fascinated by the intricate details the 5 x 4 view camera revealed but the images became more significant when they were seen alongside each other and compared as an entire collection. It is the relationship the images have with one another that interested me.

The weird similarities in form and shape, the strange and curious stories that unfold when certain items are grouped together, the items that are the same but different and those man-made symbols that are weirdly familiar to the ocean creatures that wash ashore. The beach and the ocean are so many different things to so many different people, for reasons epic and never ending.  This work became a document of what we as a people and the ocean have left behind over those long summer days, a melancholy reminder of a time spent and gone.

Black Stump
Sea Urchin
Soccer Ball
Denim Jeans
Pink Thong
Fan Shell II
Blue Knickers
Barbie Doll
Blue bottle
Toy Gun
Tennis Ball with Hole
Sad Doll
Thirteen Shark Eggs and Two Old Cans


Narelle was born and raised in Adelaide, completing her Visual Arts degree at the University of South Australia. She began her career as a photojournalist at the Adelaide Advertiser before leaving Australia in 1994. Narelle travelled extensively throughout the USA and Europe. In England she worked for numerous UK national newspapers as well as Australia’s News Limited London bureau. Returning home in 1998 she worked as a staff photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald until 2003. Narelle has won several national and international awards, including the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award for her series Coastal Dwellers.

Narelle began exhibiting in 2000, collaborating with Trent Parke on The Seventh Wave. This was followed in 2002 by the series Not of this Earth. Her solo show in 2004, Watercolours, continued her exploration of Australians at leisure. She has followed this in 2009 with the show The Summer of Us, a document of what is left behind on the beach through nature and by humankind.

In 2001 and again in 2005, Autio was selected in the Australian Art Collector Magazine’s “50 most collectable Australian artists”. Her work has been published and exhibited throughout the world and is held in numerous institutions  as well as many private and corporate collections.