For Abigail Varney’s Darwin-based series, The Build Up, we see how the rapid transition from oppressive heat to liberating monsoons not only alters our surroundings, but also plays with our psyche and relationships. Here, we take a look at her latest images as she digs a little deeper into how people and ecology are inseparable.
Returning to Darwin for the second year running, Abigail Varney was keen to find out how ‘the build up’ would be different in 2020. With her series named after the oppressive climatic pattern that occurs before eventual monsoonal relief, her first visit captured the desolate streets and constant dusty gloom. This time around, the tropical storms held back until her final days, offering Varney the chance to clearly focus on the metaphorical moments that took place before the impending respite.
“It felt like only on my last day did the clusters of dark clouds and tropical storms really produce any rain. I was happy to capture them in the final hour and really experience the build up and transitional release that came with the rain,” says Varney.
Having already captured many of her initial ideas for the series one-year earlier, Varney’s follow-up trip to Darwin gave her the freedom to shoot spontaneously and concentrate on her “own development as a person and photographer through the journey of the work”. With a preference for long-term documentary projects, Varney says this considerable time between shoots helped her look at the build up from a new angle and figure out how to push its boundaries.
“Normally long-term projects act as an itch I won’t be able to scratch, where the possibilities are endless and the work will never really be over,” explains Varney. “This is the perfect stage two for any project. There’s less pressure to conquer all the landmarks as you evolve from the first trip where you feel much like an outsider.”