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Enigma: In a flash it’s gone

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In a flash it’s gone. 

The dancer has moved from one form to the next. Capturing that movement in a still frame is the ultimate challenge for a photographer, as Canberra’s Lorna Sim well knows.

Lorna’s new exhibition, Enigma, captures the free spirt of young contemporary dancer Eliza Sanders, who dances wherever the wind takes her. When she’s in Canberra, Eliza is often dancing in front of Lorna’s camera.

“Eliza’s dance is spontaneous, fleeting and emotional,” says Lorna. “The excitement with this body of work was anticipating what Eliza was going to do and capturing that with my camera. It took time and patience because I never knew what was going to happen from one quick moment to the next.”


The result is a series of thought-provoking images that draw you in and don’t want to let you go. The images are unedited, making them even more fascinating.

The images in Enigma reflect Eliza’s unique dance style. “When she dances, Eliza is unconstrained by norms and is fearless in her approach,” says Lorna. “She’s so creative and so wonderful to work with.”

Lorna has been shooting Canberra’s youth dance group, the Quantum Leap Youth Dance Ensemble (QL2), since 2009, including alumni members such as Eliza. She experimented with a new flash during this project, which provided greater flexibility in capturing the dance. “It still took ages to shoot the elusive beauty of Eliza’s movements,” says Lorna. “She’s so fast and her dance can’t be totally predicted.”


Eliza is an award-winning dancer, choreographer and visual artist, who has no permanent base. She began dancing at the tender age of five here in Canberra, where she was born and raised. She has trained in classical ballet, jazz and contemporary dance and today holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from the New Zealand School of Dance. She became a member of QL2 in 2005.

Lorna creates art, marketing and documentary photos for performing artists, and began concentrating on the world of dance performers in 2005. She regularly works with QL2, the Street Theatre and Photoaccess. She has held many solo and group exhibitions in the capital and in several other states.

Engima is dedicated to all artists whose practice and survival is increasingly precarious. “The exhibition is a tribute to the courage these artists hold despite all the challenges they face,” says Lorna.


Two other exhibitions are on at the same time as Enigma. Absence of Sunshine, by Maurice Weidmann, features black and white photographic prints depicting theatre productions from Canberra in the 1980s. The Photography Room’s Director, Sean Davey, uncovered them an op-shop in Yass. What Comes to Mind is by Dörte Conroy, who created small-scale, transitory sculptures and then turned them into permanent photographs.

All three exhibitions run from 19 May to 25 June at The Photography Room, housed in the Old Bus Depot Markets. It’s an artist-run gallery that specialises in photography.

The Photography Room is open every Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.

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