Murray Fredericks, born 1970 in Sydney, Australia, graduated with a degree in politics from the University of Sydney in 1992. The years that followed saw Fredericks spend large amounts of time, often alone, in the Himalaya and in the deserts of the Middle East. During these solo journeys (at first without a camera) he became aware of the profound effect that time spent in isolation, in powerful landscapes, can have on the mind and on one's sense of self.
For over ten years, Fredericks has used the landscape to make representations of the experiences undergone by the self in isolation, in locations that are defined by their space and power. Although the subjects of Fredericks' work involve the sublime, it is not the literal representations of the sublime (or romantic) phenomena that become the subject; the imagery conveys the mind's experience of being affected, of being present and immersed for long periods of time within the expansive landscape.
Drawing on the techniques of minimalism, Fredericks' approach has been to find locations that are devoid of features and (ideally) bounded by a 360deg, perfectly flat horizon. His first major project entitled Salt was produced in the middle of Lake Eyre, an extensive salt pan in South Australia's outback. Fredericks camped alone on the salt, in the middle of the dry lake for many weeks at a time. Between 2003 and 2010, he made numerous visits to the salt pan of Lake Eyre and produced a major body of work which included photographs, a documentary film and time-lapse shorts.
The Salt series has had works exhibited widely in public institutions and sits in major public and private collections nationally and internationally, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Parliament House, Artbank, the Sir Elton John Collection, Macquarie Bank, the Valentino Collection, to name a few. The twenty-eight minute documentary film, Salt, won many awards including the Camerimage 'Golden Frog' for cinematography, Silverdocs/AFI/ Discovery 'Jury Prize', International Documentary Association 'Best Documentary', 'Best Short Film' Melbourne International Film Festival and also achieved two AFI nominations.
Some years into Fredericks' artistic career, he completed a Master of Art, followed by a Master of Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. The subject of his MFA was the 'Salt' Project, specifically examining the concepts of space and place within the context of landscape.
Since the completion of Salt in 2010, Fredericks has embarked on a major new project on the Greenland Icecap. Now in its fourth year, the project is situated on the vast 'inland ice', and has included a double-crossing of the icecap by dogsled and a number of weeks spent living in a hole in the ice. Recently the project expanded to include the architecture of an abandoned cold war missile detection station, set alone in the seemingly infinite sea of ice. ABC1 television commissioned a documentary on the project, which has recently been completed and will screen later in 2013. The photographic project is on-going.
While the Greenland project was underway, Fredericks also completed a project titled Hector (affectionately named rhyming slang - 'Hector the Convector'), a series of photographs of the earth's largest thunderstorms, which occur daily during the tropical 'build-up' over the Tiwi Islands in Northern Australia. As with Fredericks' other projects, the storms were captured over a flat, featureless horizon. The repetitiveness of the horizon line connects the intensely visual and dramatic thunderstorms to Fredericks' other projects - which at first glance, sit in stark contrast to the minimal imagery of the salt flats and the icecap. Each thunderstorm is presented isolated from a traditional landscape scene, set within a serial framework that subtly moves the images beyond their literal subject matter.
Fredericks' work has been published widely, including a story on the Salt series, as an art project, in the National Geographic Magazine. In the filming of his documentary work, Fredericks has pushed technical boundaries in the realm of time-lapse, motion control videography and is commissioned by clients such as the ABC and the BBC Natural History Unit to produce footage in remote locations. Upcoming commissions include the BBC series Monsoon and a major documentary series on Australian Indigenous art and history called First Footprints.
© Murray Fredericks