Between two rivers (Varanasi), 2016. Detail.

Between two rivers (Varanasi), 2016. Detail.

 Between two rivers (Varanasi), 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 300gsm, 106cm x 78cm each.

Between two rivers (Varanasi), 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 300gsm, 106cm x 78cm each.

 Together, Alone (Varanasi), 2016. Muslin, bamboo, twine. 180cm x 230cm.

Together, Alone (Varanasi), 2016. Muslin, bamboo, twine. 180cm x 230cm.

 Riverbank (Varanasi) 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 150gsm, 58cm x 57 cm each (triptych)

Riverbank (Varanasi) 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 150gsm, 58cm x 57 cm each (triptych)

 Together, Alone (Varanasi), 2016. Muslin, bamboo, twine. 180cm x 230cm. Detail.

Together, Alone (Varanasi), 2016. Muslin, bamboo, twine. 180cm x 230cm. Detail.

 Dhobi work (Varanasi) 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 150gsm, 72cm x 95cm.

Dhobi work (Varanasi) 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 150gsm, 72cm x 95cm.

 The Far Shore (Varanasi), 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 300gsm, 72cm x 95cm.

The Far Shore (Varanasi), 2016. Smoke, Hahnemuhle 300gsm, 72cm x 95cm.

Artist Statement

In A Crossing Place, Sydney artist Elizabeth Wallace presents drawings and sculpture based on her experiences of the Indian city of Varanasi.

Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi has been described as a crossing place, a place where Hindus believe they are released from the cycle of reincarnation if they die within the city limits.

The long sets of stone steps leading down to the Ganges and the ever-present funeral pyres along the riverbank inform the works on paper. Translating an embodied experience into a method of making, each mark is made with smoke on material folded to reflect the topography of the city.  Secondary marks are made through a process of erasure, a method that underscores the city’s absences. 

‘Together Alone’ references the many widows on the streets who come to the city seeking refuge. Cast from society, widows operate in the liminal space between life and death. Bamboo ladders traditionally used on pyres and white muslin, the colour assigned to all widows, articulate their ‘living death’.