Art, Identity & Place

How wild places, deep time and archaeology inform my contemporary art process

Mungo Identity

Background

When I visited this site, photographing, sketching it, taking rubbings and earth stains it was challenging on many levels. Firstly there were the heat, dust, flies and bees and wind storms. Finding shelter in a flimsy tent in this temporarily harsh environment was inadequate and it felt as though we may have been enveloped by the sand and blown away.

Secondly, the history, archaeological discoveries and how this place was found, revealed by erosion makes it a place of significance. Sheep grazing removed vegetation that exposed the lunette and eventually the site of where Mungo Woman was unearthed ( 40,000 + years).

At the time of each arrival, although ten years apart, I felt a sense of unease and fragmented as though I was viewing this sand dune lunette from an upside down position and  I hoped that on my second time around that my feelings would be together, but no such luck and the painting process attests to my efforts trying to get my head around it. I started it at the beginning of last year and threw the painting aside many times.

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Anyway when I arrived at the image of the solitary up right figure I think it was about how I could depict the way in which the sense of space differed to that of other similar fairly remote locations. A bit of a puzzle because I had lived in outback Central Queensland and this place was similar but much further south. It was as though the element of space or atmosphere was like a solid constricting presence. The exact opposite of how I thought I would feel.

Photographs of Mungo National Park

 

Author: elainedesterre

I have been producing oil paintings, mixed media, prints (etching), digital prints and drawings for many years travelling to the Australian outback and overseas for inspiration and further education. My formal education consists of a PhD in painting and a BA in printmaking and my artwork is represented in public and private collections. My purpose and ongoing challenge is to create a gender-balanced and environment-focused iconography within the Western canon of European oil painting. These themes find expression within imagery about time, memory and identity as well as in geomorphology of evolutionary and environmental significance.

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