Late in 2019, Melbourne’s established digital printmaker, Sophia Szilagyi, was invited by The Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney to create and exhibit her artistic response to the living plants in this iconic public garden. Szilagyi immersed herself in the heritage listed oasis, getting to know its landscape and the plants. ‘Plants like people’, she says ‘have an individual presence, a spirit of their own’. 

This body of work invites the viewer to feel the powerful, romantic expression of the plants and the landscape, beyond just their shape and form. By documenting their ever-present past, Szilagyi encourages the viewer to experience their metaphysical realm.

The world we see is made of light reflected off the things we look at. Szilagyi works with light as a painter with a paint palette. She does not define herself by any particular artistic medium – her experience as a dancer, printmaker and photographer allow her a unique perspective to shape light. This sensitive perception of light, and therefore dark, creates the alluring sense of mystery in Before Dark.

The use of a monochromatic palette and theatrical style of lighting is timeless, it pays homage to the nostalgic and dramatic black and white landscape photographs and films of the early 1900’s and yet it’s medium is truly contemporary.

Since she created this work, we have watched nature transition through bushfires and now the strain of a global pandemic. Before Dark is a timely collection of work as the quiet stillness comforts our unsettled state of consciousness.

‘Love emerges from loss and becomes memory

and that memory informs and enriches art.’

Deep South by Sally Mann.