Time for Change

A Comment on Loss with Michael Cook

In small communities, multi-use spaces are common. Fields become sporting ovals on the weekend, town halls host markets and meetings, and basketball courts double as a learning ground for bike-riders, scooters, and skaters.

Art photographer Michael Cook (1968-) has managed to capture this balance of order and chaos in his image Mother (Roller Skating), combining the quiet of solitude with the feeling that someone could re-enter the frame at any moment.

Speaking directly to the experience of motherhood, the abandoned pairs of skates surrounding the Mother imply repeated loss or trauma. This is only heightened by the fact the Mother still wears her skates, as if she isn’t ready to let go — echoed by the string of the pull toy, clutched tightly in her hand.

Whilst the references to Australia’s Indigenous history and the Stolen Generation are clear, Cook has infused his images with a universal sense of loss, hope and solemnity. The Mother, facing away from the decaying court as she avoids the present in favour of memory, is representative of that tangible feeling of the passing of time we all feel.

First exhibited at Art Basel Hong Kong in 2016.