Bri Hammond: Nuoto Da Sola (I Swim Alone)
Brunswick Street Gallery
14 – 27 August 2019
By Julia Onufreichuk
Within the quaint gallery space of Brunswick Street Gallery you will find the current photographic exhibition Nuoto Da Sola (I swim alone) by Bri Hammond. This is Hammond's debut show and it is definitely a step away from her usual commercial and editorial work. With a background in graphic design, Hammond is predominately a lifestyle photographer. She has certainly established herself in the editorial scene, with her work being featured in publications such as Frankie, Smith Journal and SPACES amongst others. Nuoto Da Sole offers an intriguing look into Hammond's solo travels to Italy. The discomfort of being alone is highlighted by an eerie emptiness, yet at the same time it is juxtaposed with a calm beauty.
Taking up two rooms on the second floor, the gallery space is set alight by the work; it is almost as though the warmth of the Italian sun can be felt through the frames. All of these photographs were taken on the same stretch of beach in Rimini at sundown, resulting in an atmosphere that is both warm and inviting. Immediately the images have the ability to intrigue purely through their aesthetic qualities: the softly muted tones of pink, purples and orange fill the walls. Everything feels highly considered, from what is captured in each image to the particular colour of the frames. Though at first it is easy to be entranced by these visual qualities it is important not to mistake this work as something that exists purely for aesthetic purposes.
One of the many striking images is Verde E Bianco, which pictures an expanse of beach crowded with many empty chairs and umbrellas. The vivid green of the chairs creates a contrast with the otherwise subdued tones thus generating an odd sense of displacement. Like many of the other images, it is completely devoid of people. Within this beautiful landscape the lack of human presence is quite jarring and has the power to highlight a strong feeling of loneliness and isolation. In the soft hues of the setting sun these scenes become almost otherworldly, the familiar objects now lost and alone within alien surroundings.
These strange, lonely almost romantic landscapes have the ability to resound with the viewer on an emotional level, touching on themes such as solitude and displacement. Each image is also able to sustain its own world and beauty through its aesthetics and subject matter. Overall this is a brilliant debut for Hammond in her first gallery show, and the exhibition of photographs bridges the gap between art and design and proves that when this is done correctly the two can intersect with each other in a wonderfully engaging way.
Julia Onufreichuk is a Melbourne-based artist who is currently studying Fine Arts at Monash University.