Joshua Yeldham: In Return

18 August - 9 September 2023
Exhibition Text

Arthouse Gallery is delighted to present ‘In Return’, an evocative photomedia exhibition by leading contemporary artist Joshua Yeldham.


In December 2023 Yeldham’s unique hand-carved photographic practice will be highlighted in the National Gallery of Victoria ‘Triennial’ exhibition. The NGV has acquired Resonance (8 in a series of 9) for their permanent collection. The work features embellishments of acrylic paint, cane, wood and string.


The ‘Triennial’ series signifies one of the most ambitious and exciting projects ever embarked on by the NGV. ‘Triennial’ 2017 and ‘Triennial’ 2020 challenged, confronted, and inspired us to see the world differently – through the lens of artists and designers in the contemporary, art, design and architectural space from around the globe. Exploring current issues through ground-breaking works narrated by contemporary artists and designers, ‘Triennial’ 2023 will challenge visitors to think differently. Tony Ellwood AM, Director – National Gallery of Victoria


‘In Return’ continues and expands upon Yeldham’s complex photographic practice. The time the artist takes to paint, carve, and sculpt each piece is rewarded by the time it deserves to know them: To connect with the vibrational hum between positive and negative space.



 In Return – Georgina Reid


It is impossible to meander through life without entanglement. Without becoming both knotted and unspooled, woven and unwoven. It is possible, however, to be unaware of the threads that bind. To exist in a place where the fine silken string that ties me and you, rock and heron, mud and star is rendered invisible. Blotted out by the noise. Swept away by the speed.


This shimmering thread makes and unmakes worlds. If you trace it with curiosity and attention, like Joshua Yeldham, you will rise to the moon and sink to the bottom of the river. You will climb mountain peaks and dissolve into the space between rock and sky. You will laugh and cry and draw and make and where you've been might best be described as a mystery. What is less mysterious is where the thread leads: It returns, always, to the earth beneath our soft-soled animal feet.


Yeldham's work is an act of tending and care, weaving and reweaving. See Surrender Tree. See how he wraps the ancient mangrove with line and light and the tenderest touch. Follow the bands of cane adorning the sinuous trunk, tapping into invisible energetic realms. Trace the strings running from node to node, lines of support and connection. Track the tiny, intricate marks carved and scraped and drilled into the tree trunks. See how the light – glistening and alive – emerges from the canopy, coaxed by Yeldham's hand. It is not enough only to imagine care. No, it is a physical act.


Now imagine, for a minute, being a spider. Climb to the highest point you can, raise your stomach to the sun and release your finest silken gossamer. Wait. Wait. Wait. Until the wind catches the thread and pulls you aloft, soaring skyward towards worlds unknown. Ballooning, it’s called, this act of trust in sky and silk. As illustrated in Fertility Tree – Morning Bay, it is an action of release and connection, weaving and unravelling. 'I've created my own language in the trees,' Yeldham says of the work. He talks of caress, how sometimes ideas and energies touch us in places quiet and hidden yet eternal. How a web is also an embrace.


Looping strands glimmer and dance in the iridescent light, linking branch to sky and beyond. Winding cane webs spiral softly in the wind. There is movement here. Energy here. Release here.


Surrender. Yes, surrender to the shimmering thread.

Installation Views