2022 Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, Photography Award 2nd Prize Winner
Lilli Waters (born 1983, Armidale, NSW) is a fine arts photographer whose work explores the human condition through dramatic images of the female form in haunting, windswept landscapes. A Lilli Waters image has a painterly quality, evoking the Pre-Raphaelites with macabre, foreboding elements, a jewel-like palette and sensitive use of light. Waters makes use of translucent fabrics and long hair to obscure the identities of her subjects, suggesting that the image might be just as much a mirror for the viewer, as it is a portrait.
These images initially appear to represent a romantic idea of beauty and equivalence between the fertility of the female body and the landscape. Yet in the era of ‘Me Too’ and ecological crisis, Waters’ work offers a critical feminine gaze. Her portraits allude to the conundrum of simply being in a woman’s skin: of how to express physical agency and ease in a society that constantly objectifies women and irrevocably wreaks damage on the environment. These are images that convey complex emotions: the interplay of darkness and luminosity, strength and vulnerability, and the possibility for new understandings based on an awareness of our dependence on the earth.
An ecological concern also finds expression in Waters’ underwater still life series which reference Northern Renaissance paintings in lighting and composition. Her underwater works feature live marine creatures amongst rocks, fruit, and flowers to evoke other-worldly landscapes with a palpable feeling of space and slowed time. Waters representations of luxuriant, yet fragile beauty are a reminder of the imminent loss of whole species and ecosystems as a result of climate change.
Lilli’s work has been exhibited to much acclaim in Italy, Germany, Japan, the UK, the US and Australia. Her images have appeared in publications around the globe – including Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Real Living and Belle (Aus), Art Aesthetica (UK), Il Fotografo (Italy), Austrian Living (Austria), and The Opera and Pétala Magazine (Germany) as well as appeared in feature films, including Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (USA). She was the winner of the Du Rietz Art Award (2021), winner of the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize Photography Award (2022) and a finalist in the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize (2022 and 2021), Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art (2021), Fisher’s Ghost Art Award (2020), Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize (2022& 2020), Du Reitz Art Awards (2020), Percival Photographic Art Prize (2020), National Portrait Prize (2019), Australian Photography Awards (2018) and Art Aesthetica Art Award (2018).
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