Jill Orr

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Jill Orr is a contemporary artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Orr is best known for her works in performance, photography, video and installation works that often explore the body, and its positioning within social, political and environmental contexts. While Orr’s works are predominantly site-specific, the recording of her works are regarded as equally significant aspects of her working practice.

Over the past thirty years she has presented her work in Australia, Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Antwerp, New York, Toronto, Quebec City and Graz.

Orr's works are included in a number of major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Redgate Gallery Beijing, the National Gallery of Victoria, The Graeme Gibson collection, the Monash Gallery of Art and Griffith Artworks. Many of her works are also held in private collections in Australia, the Netherlands, England, France, the United States, China and Belgium.

Jill Orr is represented by Jenny Port Gallery.

Early life and education[edit]

Jill Orr completed a Higher Diploma of Secondary Art and Craft Teaching, at Melbourne College of Advanced Education in 1975. In 1994 Orr received a Masters of Arts in Fine Art at Royal Melbourne University of Technology, and in 2006, Orr commenced a PHD in Art and Design, at Monash University.

Major works[edit]

Bleeding Trees[edit]

Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - Goya [edit]

Performed at both Artspace, Sydney (2002), and fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne (2003)

The title taken from an etching by Goya, the master of depicting the extremes of humanity. The work refers to the post-11 September world, the beginning of the war in Iraq, and the continuing plight of refugees imprisoned in Australian detention centres. The performance highlighted the ongoing death, maiming and destruction of civil liberties that holds sway through clashing belief systems, in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.

The performance was constructed with two adjoining darkened rooms; one to exhibit shadowy images on a single screen projection, and the other containing 4 light sensitive paintings. The lighting in one of the rooms cycled between dull spot lighting to total darkness for 60 seconds, which then the only light source is from the illuminosity of the 4 paintings.

Orr became a part of the installation; a contained creature twitching and jerking in the dark. Orr’s character explored the confines of the rooms, while assembling bones into sculptural pieces, some which became body adornments. The performance was an eight-hour endurance event in which sculptures were created from a tonne of animal meat and bones. Orr chose animal remains as an allegory to point out the parallel between our own bodies, and to show to the fabricated depictions of horrific human suffering which are witnessed, through media on a daily basis.

The Southern Cross: to Bear and Behold[edit]



  • When you think about Art: The Ewing and George Paton Gallery 1971–2008, ed. Helen Vivian, Macmillan Art Publishing, 2008
  • Art in Sight: Volume 2, L. Chamberlain, McGraw Hill Co. 2006
  • The Darkroom Photography and the Theatre of Desire Anne Marsh, Macmillan Art Publishing 2003
  • At Home in Australia Peter Conrad, National Gallery of Australia in association with Thames and Hudson 2003
  • Australian Art in the National Gallery of Australia edited by Anne Gray, produced by the Publications Department of the National Gallery of Australia 2003
  • Peripheral Vision Contemporary Australian Art 1970-1994 Charles Green, Craftsman House 1996
  • Art in Sight L. Chamberlain, McGraw Hill Book Co. 1996
  • Art Now Contemporary Art Post 1970 D. Williams and C. Simpson, McGraw Hill Book co. 1994
  • Body and Self: Performance Art in Australia 1969-92 Anne Marsh Oxford University Press 1993
  • Sight Lines: Women’s Art and Perspectives in Australia, Sandy Kirby, Craftsman House 1992
  • Anything Goes; Art in Australia 1970-1980 Ed. Paul Taylor Art & Text, Melbourne 1984
  • Experimental Art Foundation, Performance Week, Ed. Noel Sheridan, Experimental Art Foundation Press, Adelaide. 1980
  • Live Art Australia and America Ed. Jane Kent and Anne Marsh self-published Adelaide 1984
  • New Art Three; Profiles in Contemporary Australian Art, Ed. N. Dury Craftsman House 1989
  • Field of Vision: A Decade of Women’s Art in the Seventies, Janine Bourke Viking Press, Melbourne 1990


  • Faith in a Faithless Land, 2009. Essay by Damian Smith
  • Heat: Art and Climate Change RMIT Gallery 2008 curator Dr Linda Williams and Suzanne Davies
  • Guia Loop Barcelona 2008 Festival, Generalitat de Catalunya, Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals, 2008
  • The Field, Australian Art 1968-2002, National Gallery of Victoria
  • Ash: Jill Orr, Mass Gallery Melbourne 2002, essay by Helen Vivian
  • Eye-deals, Griffith Artworks March 2000
  • Telling Tales, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney Curated and written by Jackie Dunn and Jill Bennett 1998
  • Festivities Issue No. 12, Melbourne Festival 1997
  • Pulse Fiction, October / November 1997 Plimsoll gallery, Centre for the Arts Hobart - Curated by Leigh Hobba
  • The Beach, Museum of Modern Art at Hiede, catalogue essay by Geoffrey Dutton 1994
  • Persona Cognita, Museum of Modern Art at Hiede, Essay Museum of Selves by Juliana Engberg 1994
  • Tony Scott and Jill Orr Looking in and Looking Out, paintings at Meridian Gallery, essay by Roger Taylor 1994
  • Raising the Spirits, Museum of Modern Art at Heide The Bride and the Bachelors, essay by Anne Marsh 1994
  • 25 Years of Performance Art in Australia, curator Nick Waterlow 1994 University of NSW College of Fine Arts
  • Jill Orr. Performance Documentation 1978-1988, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
  • The “I “in the Gaze: Aspects of the Body and the Self in Performance works by Jill Orr essay by Anne Marsh
  • Women at Work George Paton Gallery, Melbourne University 1980 edited by J Annear and A Danko
  • Act 3: Ten Australian performance Artists, Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra Oct. 1982

Articles and essays[edit]

  • Jill Orr: Faith in a Faithless Land and The Southern Cross – to bear and behold, Kirsten Rann, Photophile August Number 87, Melbourne 2009.
  • Extreme Acts: Live Remade & Remediated Anne Marsh, Eyeline Contemporary Visual Arts Number 69, 2009
  • Greenwash, Patrick Jones, Trouble (magazine) October 2009, pp63–65
  • A Dreamscape of human and environmental loss. Robert Nelson The Age Wednesday 20 May 2009. P 16.
  • Chris McAuliffe investigates the trend of environmentally conscious art. S98522: RMIT Heat: Art and Climate Change, ABC 1 TV, Sunday Arts, 12 October 2008.
  • RMIT Heat Exhibition: News Hour, Monday 22 September 2008, ABC, Australian Network
  • Performance Art and its Documentation: a photo / video essay, Anne Marsh p 15 - 29
  • About Performance: Still/ Moving : Photography and Live Image 2008 Department of Performance Studies University of Sydney 2008 . Published by University Publishing Service, University of Sydney
  • Changing the Artistic Climate, Andrew Stephens The Age Saturday 6 September 2008 . A2 section page 19
  • Jill Orr – Under the Southern Cross, Damian Smith curator Maroondah Art Gallery, Trouble (magazine) April 2008
  • Art Links Past and Present, Adrian Bernecich, Maroondah Leader, Tuesday 8 April 2008
  • Images of Power .Danica Harris, Maroondah Journal, Tuesday 15 April 2008
  • Crossing draws parallels with climate change: Mildura Midweek, Tuesday 26 February 2008
  • At Play in Public Space: Alison Gray Encounters Interpositions at the Darwin Festival: Real Time, No 81 October –November 2007
  • The Crossing, Kate Gerritson, Groundwork, Regional Arts Victoria, 2007
  • Resident has Bone to Pick with Artist, Herald Sun, Sat 21 June 2003
  • A Bone to Pick, www.domain.com.au, Sat 21 June 2003, Roland Rocchiccoli
  • Lunch with the Birds, photo, The Age E.G. 12 June 2002
  • The Bush Tames a Rebel, Diamond Valley Leader 3 July 2003 Jan Harkin
  • Digital Ghosts, Imprint Autumn 2002, Volume 37, No. 1, Damien Smith
  • Mass gallery Closes with Jill Orr Show, The Age Wed 6 Nov 2002 Megan Backhouse
  • An Interview with Jill Orr Rubric Cube, A medium for Young Artists, Issue 2 2003, ed. Daniel Duckworth
  • Blood and Death, Art Monthly April 2003 No 158 Anne Marsh
  • The Answer is Buried, Herald Sun sat 24 April 1999 Sarah Hudson
  • The Beach, ABC Television, viewed April 2001, Featherstone Productions
  • Presence 1 This Place: Jill Orr Mass Gallery Melbourne 2000, Like Magazine No 14, Autumn 2001, Vicki McInnes
  • Orr Inspiring Body of Work Visual Arts, The Age, Tues 19 Dec. 2000, Megan Backhouse pp48/49
  • The Eye of the Beholder, Real-time No 37 pp 12, June 2000 M. Lynch
  • Performing Histories and the Myth of Place, N Paradoxa, International feminist Art Journal Vol. 3 1999 Anne Marsh pp 10
  • Jill’s Glass Act, Herald Sun Arts Entertainment Mon 13 Oct 1997 F. Lewis pp 84
  • Information, The Australian Financial Review, Fri 17 Oct 1997 Stan beer, p 59
  • Looking in looking Out, Spinout 27 Jan 1995 M O. Donnel, p 9
  • Three Themes on the Art of Teamwork, The Age Wed 1 Feb. p 19, 1995 Robert Nelson
  • Body Art, Ritual versus Spectacle C.T. Arts 1995 M. Black
  • A Kiln for Firing the Imagination photo and caption, Craig Abraham The Age Fri Sept 16 1994. p 7
  • Meanings Spirited Out of the Body, The Age, Wed 21 Sept. 1994, p 23 A. Stephens
  • The Melbourne Festival, Eyeline No. 35, Summer 1997/8, p 38 Julie Cotter
  • Take it to the Limit, Volt Program Brisbane Festival B. Jackson Eyeline No 32 Summer 1996 p 7
  • The Inception of Feminism and Performance Art in the 1970s, Agenda Contemporary Art vol no 2, special supplement; Art the Present and Recent Past of Australian Art and Criticism pp10–12, written by Anne marsh.1996
  • Starting with the Environment, Interact No 195, 1995
  • Raising the Spirits, Art Monthly, Australia April 1995, Penny Trotter
  • Art Attack, Black and White no 6, 1994, B. Crawford
  • Drydocks and Slipways, Eyeline No 24, 1994, A. King
  • Religion, Literature & Art, Australian International Conference 1994 ed. Michael Griffith and Ross Keating written. By Jane Magon
  • Re-writing the Seventies Melbourne Experience, Art monthly No 22. July 1989 p 7-8. Charles Green
  • Orr, Hearman, Kruger, Art Monthly No 20 1989 pp 15–16, C. Heathcote
  • Map of Transition, J. Orr photos and poem, LIP 1978 / 79 p 10-11
  • Relics and Rituals, P. Taylor (ed) Anything Goes: Art in Australia 1970-1980 Art and Text, Melbourne 1984 first published (ext cat) National Gallery of Victoria 1981. Robert Lindsay.
  • Adelaide performance Art and the EAF, Art network No 2, Spring, 1980 p 43. T. Reid