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Trees as farms : painting the new landscape


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Goodall, SL 2012 , 'Trees as farms : painting the new landscape', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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A tree farm, in simple terms, is an area of land that has been planted with seedlings of a
single timber species to be harvested for its wood. An agricultural farm can be defined as
land planted with food crops or pasture for grazing animals. From a visual perspective a
farmscape evokes historic, nostalgic notions of the pastoral landscape; whereas a tree farm
is silent, moody, ambiguous, and unintelligible.
A consideration of the impacts, both positive and negative, of timber plantations on farming
districts and the environment provides the context for this investigation. Discourses of
geography and land use, biology, economics and industry contribute to a multivalent
viewpoint. I use painting to represent the removal of pasture and the reforestation of the
farmscape where traditional crops are replaced by monocultural plantings of trees.
Repetitive flora motifs of Eucalyptus nitens leaves symbolise the plantations enveloping
former pasture. Common farming items are utilised as artefacts, remnants of a history lost.
The modular, multi-panelled format employed is informed by Imants Tillers; with particular
reference to Kangaroo Blank 1988 and his series Nature Speaks 1998-2000. Dividing the
picture plane into a grid facilitates the removal of random sections, enabling the images to
be broken down; with the empty pockets of space providing ambiguity, mystery and a
sense of demise. Other artists referenced include David Keeling and Ray Arnold who take
decisive political standpoints in their Tasmanian landscapes; Patrick Grieve and his highly
stylised farmscapes; Richard Wastell and his portrayal of the vulnerability of the land; and
Megan Walch, whose hauntingly dark depictions of tree branches in Skeletal 2010 pares
back into their dark, grotesque beauty. Edward Hopper’s Gas 1940 was a pivotal painting
presenting the eerie, foreboding, cipher-like characteristics of plantation pine forests.
The significance of the effects that tree farms have on the transformation of the rural
landscape has proved a valuable topic for theoretical and visual research. Initially I paid no
heed to the existence of tree farms in my local area, but gradually over the course of the
project I began to question the impact on and changes to the rural community. Timber
plantations loom large over the traditional agricultural landscape, superficially disrupting the
pastoral and the picturesque while, as this project has identified, also impacting upon the
environment and rural communities.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Goodall, SL
Keywords: painting, pastoral landscape, tree farms, plantations, monoculture
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