Deerubbin at Dawn: river lives on the Hawkesbury

Nicole Matthews (Photographer)

Research output: Non-traditional research outputExhibition


Contributing to both to media studies and the environmental humanities, Deerubbin at Dawn engaged with a range of critical debates around the role of landscape photography in envisioning relationships between human and the more-than-human in settler-colonial nations. It sought to fill a gap around understandings of sentiment, affect and environmental commitments within the area of visual culture, drawing on feminist understandings of hierarchies of value in visual art. The exhibition aimed to use photography in and of place to further explore the research question posed in my recent coauthored paper: “how sentimental attachments toward landscapes might prompt environmental awareness and action.” (Simon and Matthews, 2019, 95). The collection of images in the exhibition evidenced, solicited and cultivated sentimental attachments to Deerubbin/the Hawkesbury, proposing a mode of looking in “critical proximity” (Simon, 2010) to estuarine spaces. This collection of 48 images invoked the pleasures of repetitive viewing of familiar, even beloved, more-than-human subjects, while opening space for reflection on the colonial dreamwork involved in imaging a largely unpeopled riverscape. This work has significance in offering new perspectives on emerging relationships to threatened landscapes during a climate emergency. The selection of the Deerubbin at Dawn as an associated exhibition of the Head On Photo Festival, via a process of anonymized assessment by the selection committee of Australia’s premier photography event, demonstrates arms length evaluation of the work, while dissemination of the work via artists’ talks and seminar presentations in national and international academic events indicates the emerging impact of this ongoing creative research.

Photographic exhibition at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, 10-24 November 2020.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Size48 images
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • photography
  • environmental humanities
  • emotion
  • more-than-human
  • landscape


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