Congratulations to former BSSC Art student Ilona Nelson, whose photographic piece In-Sanitarium has been purchased by the Bendigo Art Gallery. It’s currently on show as part of the Collective Vision – 130 Years exhibition which runs until May 28.

“To say I’m beyond thrilled is an understatement, but I’m so crazy excited that Bendigo Art Gallery has acquired my work In-Sanitarium!” Nelson wrote in her blog. “This piece is from my ‘thisplace’ series which has been exhibited at Town Hall Gallery and Stockroom. I’m so excited, and I love that the gallery supports contemporary photography.”

Excerpt from The Age – Spectrum, Saturday 18 March 2017:

Portraiture can offer truth, says Melbourne artist Ilona Nelson, whose 2015 photographic work In-Sanitarium reflects, without sentiment, on the experiences of motherhood. She intentionally avoids the buffed and polished version of reality all too often served up on social media.

At first, it’s difficult to see how this image of a modest kitchen is even a portrait. On the window sill there’s a jug filled with brushes; on the wooden floor a messy mound of cereal. Keep looking and you will see the hint of a shoulder, the bend of an elbow, the curve of a head, until you realise that it’s a woman buried under the mountain of Weet-Bix, Cornflakes and oats.

The work is part of the series This Place, in which Nelson photographed mothers in their own homes, camouflaging them in the rubble of child-rearing: nappies, laundry, toilet paper, mashed potatoes, toys. The series effaces the identity of the sitter in the same way that the demands of motherhood can erase a woman’s sense of self.

“It only dawned on me a year or two ago what my entire arts practice has been about, and it has been about trying to capture something real and honest, especially in today’s society where everything is so curated and so photoshopped on social media,” says Nelson, who grew up in Mandurang, just outside Bendigo, and now lives in Melbourne.