Nature as History

By Melynda von Derksen | Wednesday February 17 2010 | ArtsHub

Nature as History

Nature as History is a series of new photographs by Imogen Barraga Hall. Her 7th solo show, Imogen has been taking photographs since 2005 after her house tragically burnt down in rural NSW. But proving that something good can come from such a negative experience, Imogen took to the camera like a duck takes to water and began on a journey that has ultimately provided her with creative success.

Taking a recent trip to Japan where she visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Imogen has captured aspects of these historic, yet tragic places that would have otherwise been missed if not for her creative eye.

The first thing you encounter when you enter the space to Nature as History is the large scale prints on the wall. Firstly there is a snow covered hill, complete with every twig on the snowy ground clear for the viewer to see. The next image is just as detailed, but this time it is a million little pebbles that invite you to count them. Next to it sits the inner chambers of an ancient cave, and finally the image of a dark and mysterious lagoon with a strange light towering above it.

But it is Imogen’s other photos that really had me intrigued. These photos were really nothing like I have ever seen before, and the way in which she has photographed them is very clever. At first it is difficult to tell what the images are but if you can imagine a lake being drained, complete with sandbags, mud, pebbles and just enough water to reflect the sky and towering buildings in it, then you will understand that this is what Imogen has actually photographed.

But due to the reflective nature of the images, many of them look as though the buildings are decaying, the sky is filled with death skulls, and the surrounds are ripped, torn and filled with an element of destruction that only a city that has felt the power of a nuclear bomb can truly express.

If nothing else Nature as History will make you look at Japan in a totally new way and I encourage all photographer lovers to go and see it.

“As we shape landscape so it shapes us and all we do within it.”


Melynda von Derksen |

Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne’s best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 – onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.


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