Blog

Arcadia

Artwork Statement:   Arcadia contrasts John Glover’s The Ruins of the Paestum at Salerno against the Tasmanian landscape, depicted here in ash. The work by Glover, which was painted after his arrival in Launceston from sketches in his diaries, carries his pre-exisiting notions of idealised and bucolic European landscapes to Tasmania. Through this juxtaposition Arcadia explores the nature of these colonial attitudes, and how they continue to affect our approach to the natural environment today. The Tasmanian landscape in the work is created from ash collected from an area in Glover country (near Patterdale) which had been cleared and burnt for plantation.

Artwork Statement:  

Arcadia contrasts John Glover’s The Ruins of the Paestum at Salerno against the Tasmanian landscape, depicted here in ash. The work by Glover, which was painted after his arrival in Launceston from sketches in his diaries, carries his pre-exisiting notions of idealised and bucolic European landscapes to Tasmania. Through this juxtaposition Arcadia explores the nature of these colonial attitudes, and how they continue to affect our approach to the natural environment today.

The Tasmanian landscape in the work is created from ash collected from an area in Glover country (near Patterdale) which had been cleared and burnt for plantation.

___________

The original title for this painting was In Arcadian Bliss but after writing the above statement about this piece the title seemed a little over stated.

The idea behind this work was to explore the ways in which humans treat the environment expecting it to provide sustenance for us for eternity without any consequences or responsibilities. If the First Australians can have sustained life here for well over 40,000 years and lived on what the flora and fauna provided without threatening its existence suggests that these attitudes arrived with the colonisers, and still exist today. The consequences of these attitudes are explored in this work.

Process:

Part of the Fellowship is to develop new and different ways of applying ash to create specific effects regarding subject.

In this case I have used a different technique to the pixel process so that I can add more detail to the subject (pixels remove detail and break down the image). I have created an ash landscape that incorporates threatened and extinct Tasmania species of fauna. To help inform this process I visited TMAG’s museum division to access their archives where I photographed and collected details of endangered species I could use.

I want the creatures to belong in an integral way to the landscape. To assist with this I brought the tones much closer together to convey their integration in the landscape, and to suggest that they may be moving from existence to memory.

Creating this sense of memory represents the fragility of existence.

This detail above shows how nebulous and almost crude the detail in the image can be especially when it comes to defining specific detail in ash. The great thing is that when it is assembled and viewed from a distance as a completed image it all seems to makes sense.

Development of subject:

In the development of this work I explored John Glover country in the northern part of Tasmania. John Glover is an artist who arrived in Tasmania after establishing himself in England as an artist painting in the Romantic style, after Claude Lorraine. Glover's approach re-imagined Tasmania as an idealised, pre-colonial Arcadia.

I felt he was a good example of Colonial attitudes migrating to our shore, and being expressed through art.

Starting near his home in Patterdale I travelled towards Ben Lomond hoping to find some semblance of the landscape that Glover himself would have seen in the mid 19th Century, but was only to be thwarted by plantations and clear felling created by Gunns and Forestry Tasmania.

On this journey I collected some remnants of charcoal left from one of the clear felled areas just near Ben Lomond National Park, and this was used in the creation of Arcadia.

Instead of depicting this damaged landscape in the final work I decided to use a landscape I had captured previously on a walk through Mount Wellington National Park, a scene which gave a sense of what the untouched landscape may have looked like.

The main area of the canvas has been constructed in ash, incorporating within this landscape many different threatened and extinct species in Tasmania.

The Glover image that is recreated on the easel in the foreground is a painting that is housed at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston. This work by Glover was painted after his arrival in Patterdale from sketches in his diaries that where made during a trip to Italy. This diary, in some way, is the carrier of Glover's pre-existing notions and assumptions of the Australian landscape. And is these notions that arguably have upset the equilibrium of the flora and fauna in Tasmania.