Julia Davis and Lisa Jones in 2023

Thresholds: a quiet chorus
03.02. - 25.03.2023

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Julia Davis and Lisa Jones’ collaborative practice engages with subterranean urban sites and explores their personal relationship with darkness, transience and embodiment of place. Interest in the underlands emerged through independent research looking for the truth of a place, not in a documentary sense but instead through, literally and metaphorically, slipping under the surface and experiencing the texture of place and another sense of time.

The pair share an interest in the creative potential of collaboration, particularly how their practices can synergise to benefit both their individual and collaborative works. Davis is concerned with the invisible forces and traces of human endeavour that inform both how we inhabit and are inhabited by landscape. Jones examines the layers of accumulated actions that reveal lived experience and material histories of the built environment.

The drawings from Sydney and Paris were created in the darkness of their underlands and conjugate materials from two different cities, hemispheres and moments in time. The process utilises materials of the place: soils, dust, minerals and water that are captured in the paper substrate. The landscape acts as a third pair of hands that shapes and moulds the outcomes.

Their relationship with site informs how they capture and reveal the effects of time within each place. In Sydney’s CBD it was through the ebb and flow of the flooded tunnels, in Paris the drips of surface water filtered over months through the city’s historic layers from the streets above. Treading lightly in the way Davis and Jones occupy spaces and use materials, this process is as much a collaboration or performance with site as it is with one another. Their investigations into place consider past with awareness of contemporary viewpoints and practices that acknowledge colonial history.

The artists acknowledge the traditional owners and histories of the various countries on which the works were made. In Sydney, they acknowledge the Gayamagal and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay their respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.


Julia Davis and Lisa Jones - Catacombs Paris Works in Progress, 2020
Work-in-progress on site Les Catacombes de Paris, 2020. Photograph: Zoher Tahora


Julia Davis and Lisa Jones have been practicing artists since the mid 1990s and have exhibited widely within Australia and internationally. They live and work in Sydney and continue their individual practices as well as collaborating on projects. In 2012, they presented site-specific installations on Cockatoo Island, with two of the works sharing conceptual connections and physically relating to underground tunnel sites. During the project development of this exhibition an artistic dialogue between them matured.

In 2016, they began their first fully collaborative project, a residency with Sydney Trains accessing disused tunnels and chambers under the CBD they created a series of drawings and an archive of video and sound. With the support of a Copyright Agency 2018 CREATE grant, they completed post-production on a multi-channel video installation from this archive. The video and drawings from this residency were exhibited in a solo exhibition at the Tin Sheds Gallery in 2021.  Other drawings from this series were shown at the Dominik Mersch Gallery in 2019. In 2020, they were awarded the Onslow Storrier National Art School Paris Studio, located at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. This residency was also supported by a career development grant from Australian Council for the Arts. In 2022 they were Finalists in the Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Scholarship at Sydney College of the Arts.


Work-in-progress on site at the Beehive Casements, Middle Head, Sydney Harbour, 2021 Photograph: Richard Glover


To date, Thresholds has been supported by and acknowledged through:

  • Sydney Trains, residency 2016–19
  • The Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund 2018
  • Cité Internationale des Arts, The Onslow Storrier National Art School residency 2020
  • Australia Council for the Arts, Career development grant 2020
  • The Catacombes Museum de Paris, 2020
  • Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney, solo exhibition 2021
  • Manly Art Gallery & Museum, solo exhibition 2022
  • Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Scholarship, finalists exhibition, Sydney College of the Arts 2022


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