Photograph of teacups and saucers arranged in formation like ballerinas in a ballet 

Olive COTTON (1911–2003)
Teacup Ballet, 1935
silver gelatin photograph
Bequest of Russell Mills, 2015
© Estate of Olive Cotton


Olive Cotton's early work is characterised by pictorial soft focus; however, by the late 1930s she was undertaking her art degree, which saw her adopt the practices of more modern photography. She continued to work at home as an amateur photographer during her studies. Soon after graduating, she joined Max Dupain's studio. Dupain was a childhood friend whom she would marry in 1939.1 It was during this period that Cotton produced one of her more acclaimed works, Teacup Ballet. Bringing together composition, light and tone, she transformed mundane domestic objects into graceful dancing figures lit on a ballroom stage.

1. Josef Lebovic, Joanna Cahill and Susetter Cooke, 1989,Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Josef Lebovic Gallery, p. 142.