Art, Identity & Place

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

Exploration at Lake Mungo

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Background

This painting has been through the wringer and almost landed in the bin.

Originating as an etching, gessoed, painted in a grey mixing raw umber, cobalt and white with a touch of naples yellow the image, I imagined it as an interior containing references to the painting process, vision and reflection. Then I sanded it back, employed  new colours because images from Lake Mungo kept drifting up and pulling me in a different direction.

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The first version, as an interior in soft grey-green, referred to poetics around vision that morphed into a landscape/mindscape about the light at Mungo and sunset. Still in vertical portrait format I reestablished the face and it then became about how we position ourselves within the landscape on many different levels.

One level was about trying to integrate European oil painting conventions into the Australian landscape-a popular theme by many artists. On another level, my question was about the relationship of humanity to the environment and whether or not we see ourselves as dominating it or working with it? Then there was the way in which the representation of women and nature have been depicted by the dominant culture as possessions onto which all sorts of objectification has occurred.

I’ve tried to find a way to express being in the landscape. The exaggerated depiction of ear refers symbolically to history.

I like to combine figuration, ( plastic and volume) with elements of abstraction.

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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