Graham Sorrelle is an artist, poet and cameleer. While the latter vocation might come as a surprise, the lines on Graham’s face tell his story like camel tracks across a rugged desert. Working almost entirely with metaphors the camel looms large in Sorrelle’s oeuvre. In his photo series The Camels, Sorrelle is camouflaged, lost amongst the ships of the desert reflecting an affinity with creatures who experience the struggle for survival in the harshest of environments. Camels may not be endemic to Australia’s arid wilderness and yet they thrive, as if they always belonged.
Man, myth and movement; Graham’s birthright is Sorrellism. The only similarity with surrealism, upon which this suspect pun is based, is its relation to the dark side of dreams and his view of landscape as a state of mind. Not quite abstract, Sorrelle’s painted country is bleak, highlighting feelings of isolation, alienation and dread. It is a world in sienna, literally coloured by the coffee he uses as a versatile medium and metaphor.
Sorrellism follows Graham’s personal journey and captures the essence of places he has been, and seen. Across these experiential landscapes we see a monochromatic image of a toddler, innocent and naïve, imbedded in the vast unknown for which life provides no map. The image of the ‘lost’ child, so ubiquitous in Australian painting, fiction and pop mythology is given a very personal workout in Sorrellism. No stranger to the confessional, Sorrelle’s work is relentlessly self-reflective and reveals his sense of vulnerability and powerlessness – the result of what he sees as an inability to overcome the multifarious obstacles thrown on life’s path.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker
Graham Sorelle, Sorellism, an installation of new works, 2013-14, mixed media, dimensions variable; photography by Brenton McGeachie.