Drawings by Bettina Harvey

Photography by Judy Witheford

The Ferry Building Gallery is pleased to present Drift, an exhibition that showcases drawings and mixed-media by Bettina Harvey and photography by Judy E. Witheford. Thematically, the complimentary works of these two artists explore perceptions and impressions of the natural world and the visual imprints, fragments and remnants that embody the passage of time.

The drawings of Bettina Harvey in the Drift series are renderings of the natural world and operate as metaphors for her experiences with her father’s journey through dementia. After he was diagnosed with dementia, Harvey accompanied him for walks along the beaches of Denman Island, where he carefully selected pieces of driftwood as gifts for his daughter. Much like her father’s mind, the driftwood seemed impermanent and fragile—the substance of a past about to disappear. The pieces had been part of something whole and, through travel from forest to sea to beach, were shaped by a lifetime of experience.

For her subjects, she selects only branch attachments or tree collars, nodes of wood that express connection, attachment and growth. The drawings in the Drift collection evoke the human anatomy—overlapping tissues that resist the process of decay. The focus on the wood demonstrates direct acknowledgment of the ideas of ageing and degeneration, processes our culture frequently avoids. In this way, Drift offers an homage to age; it marks a refusal to allow the elderly or the process of ageing to drift away into obscurity.

Photographer Judy E. Witheford is both fascinated and frustrated by the abstraction of image-making. In freezing a moment in time and space, framing it, giving it importance over the endless flow of moments and making meaning from what is sometimes incomprehensible, she hopes to create a coherent record of what she considers to be a dynamic exchange.

Witheford does not consider her photographs self-expression, nor do they carry any specific message. They are simply the embodied result of her interactions with her surroundings. She has an immersive process, using the camera as a vehicle to engage in an active response to encounters with the forces in nature. These photographs reveal the dynamic exchange between the photographer, the moment in the world and the image being created.