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Illusion by Liz McCrystal

Six large and framed photographs hanging on two white walls
Liz McCrystal

Illusion is the shift in light
The phantom limb
The sun’s warmth

It's the bright white on the sea of dark blue
The narrowing of a bridge between real and true
Illusions are how much you’re willing to give away
The privilege of the artist is to bestow these gifts upon us
But a word of warning, illusions don't exist without caution
They ask that you take a knee on entry, and ponder these questions curiously

what is the direction of the light, if it has multiple sources?

how does the ocean bare its white teeth?

what way does the clock tick when you are in the present but living in the past?
Find your hook and they’ll slowly reel you in
If you're willing to walk the tightrope, and you don't mind falling in
Then, welcome

They echo vertigo
I'm looking at, and over a summit
I'm walking a tightrope on a curb side drawing
I'm falling

down or through?
They’re portraits, each more than the width of two people
Horizons are lost, but not missed
The details give texture

an elephant skin - stretched, but thicker
They’re cut-off and cut-out scenes

of sepia and black and white dreams
Shapes dismount, and triple-axel!

and they land the follow-through
There are lines, hovering the borders

in a manic order
They suggest premeditation

practice cuts that missed the mark
Other lines tell ancient stories

like tree rings

traces and shadows

remove and reveal stories you can't see
The portraits now appear as layered portals

rolodex textures

time stamp clock-ins

dot grain mastering
If I walk into one do I come out of the other?

do I come out at all?
More vertigo sets in

shapes appear to be shadowing

hollowing out in the corners, then stretching to the edging
These crafts now echo life rafts, with masts

sent to rescue those that have fallen through
I blink to clear my eyes

smoke and mirrors

I'm caught by surprise
I paused for a second

these cut-outs could be windows

or are they censored? removed by big-brothers ghost
This is collage as a drawing practice

forming and de/forming

creation from the masses
These were once landscapes to be envied

collected from coffee table books, and other bourgeois activities
Tea stained memories that are anchored to an aesthetic
These were made by the hands of a collector, a relic hunter, an artefact finder
New landscapes, not born, but grown


Izabela Pluta
Shadowing #4-5, 2023
National Photography Prize 2024
Murray Art Museum Albury
Image Jeremy Weihrauch

We have multiple dreams per night
They’re unknown masses surging to the shore
Like waves crashing, these images are in free-fall

then, freeze frame
I'm presented with six complex images
They hold me back
They signal one more lap
They offer caution

then go off track
They’re more auspicious, than superstitious
It's a choose your own adventure
It's a meet your maker
A caldron of smoke has manifested
Reality warps in the background

landslides on a mountain side
An enchanted apple, a good vs evil, a mutated vessel
Flames concealed, leaves suspended
Shelves have bred food that won't perish
Hibernation, and set for the winter
Locked up, left to splinter
Suspended conch, island lost
I can hear the layers creak

the sound of the car shriek

the leaves frozen in breath

the Om of the ocean is constant
You can smell the perfume flowers
A broken halo around a shallow figure
Coo to a crystal ball to see your fortune
Now join me in the sunset shadows
Bright blues and warm hues
The rippled ocean is more precocious
Flights are leaving


The colours draw you in before you ask if you’re welcome
Rolled paper says see you later
Postcard bites, read with caution

Three photographs in different coloured frames hanging on a white wall


Three photographs in different coloured frames hanging on a white wall

Ali McCann
Joy, 2023
National Photography Prize 2024
Murray Art Museum Albury
Image Jeremy Weihrauch

A constellation, oscillating, then caught in the headlights
Are these individual pixels in a frame?
Or maybe it's the panning of coarse sand, to reveal the precious metals?
It reads like a fractured Rorschach, a complex algorithm gone off-track
It’s a growth on the wall - leading and being led

shapes to get lost in

holes to hide in

images to project upon

ads that sell you on

hills to die upon

branches to rest on
Details reminisce
The layering exceeds and is excessive
This is the mountain you’re meant to summit
Black tape keeps me grounded
The size and the volume have me shaking

aggressive on the wall

towering and laughing
I see some of my favourite things



The sexual energy is palpable
Colours and compositions are thoughtful

blues hold my hand and merry-go-round me to dance
I'm traversing pre-waste

windows or pockets where I can escape
On first glance this mess has no reason or rhyme
but I take a little time
I can see the maker's hand

conducting this matter

swirling around

they dance together
Tentacles are pulling me closer
I want to make an offering to this strange and obscure shrine

where I might fall in and never be found
The magic eye is coded to keep me attracted
Do I reach in and take a bite?

will I be expelled like Eve from the garden?

or will this poisonous apple send me off to a dreamland?
And then I hit the ground; stumble around, through the lost and found
Until I see it:

yesterday's breakfast

a tooth I lost in third grade

a puppy I imprisoned my parents with

a trip to Rome I never took

the tool I was looking for to complete the set

the brick I threw at a KFC window back when my angst got the best of me
I tilt my head back and forth, I play figure eights then blur my eyes and in one last attempt
I whisper a magic password and wait to repent


Skye Wagner
Before Orange Peel, After Loose Teeth, Now Peanuts, 2023
National Photography Prize 2024
Murray Art Museum Albury
Image Jeremy Weihrauch

These works are blink and you’ll miss it moments
They’re for the curious few among us

who want to ask questions

who want to see their own reflection

who want to know what they are trying to tell us

who glimpse a memory past


Liz McCrystal is an artist based on Yuin Country, in Moruya on the NSW far South Coast. Experimental in approach, Liz uses photo, installation and free-verse to deconstruct auto-biographical, topical and philosophical themes relating to the theoretical framework of the human condition. Alongside her creative practice, Liz is an arts-worker who has worked with the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, SECCA-Bega and Gaffa Gallery in Sydney.

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