Lorraine Sim is a Senior Lecturer in Modern English Literature at Western Sydney University. She is the author of Virginia Woolf: The Patterns of Ordinary Experience (Ashgate, 2010) and Ordinary Matters: Modernist Women’s Literature and Photography (Bloomsbury, 2016). She is currently working on a new book provisionally titled Happy Modernisms.
When I first saw this image on the National Gallery of Australia’s website, I wasn’t quite sure who, or what, I was seeing (fig. 1). What is the shadowy form lurking in the bottom-left-hand-corner of the image? Is it a person emerging out of the basement, a playful photographic superimposition, or something more banal: just another painting propped in the corner?