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Love and longing, death and desire, and feminine place : a contemporary practice informed by Victorianism and colonial Tasmania

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Jefferys, JP (2011) Love and longing, death and desire, and feminine place : a contemporary practice informed by Victorianism and colonial Tasmania. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This research project investigates the lives of three women, Louisa Anne Meredith, Anna Maria Nixon and Mary Morton Allport as protagonists in a narrative about feminine place within the history of Colonial British immigration to Tasmania. These three women who self recorded their lives, are intended to represent the many colonial women whose lives have never been recorded.
These women lived within a milieu of Victorianism, in which the contained genteel interior contrasted with the darkness and wildness beyond. The Tasmanian wilderness became an actual and symbolic place where longing and desire could be released and where the "feminine" iconography starts to take on an erotic nature, away from the closed concealment of the domestic. This erotic, sensual nature is identified in the project from the feminine perspective, rather than the feminine description prescribed by men as in the Victorian "woman's mission'; a climax of restraint and repression for women.
Through working with textiles, doilies, embroideries and other media that refer to what was historically 'woman's work', the project aims to conjure a window/mirror effect that reveals both constraint and concealment; and the process of relinquishing restraint to embrace the erotic/sensual and wilder self. These ideas have been realized through the construction of a thirty paneled work, embellished with decorative elements that allude to the concepts, and refer to my own work history as a fashion designer. A second work of ten larger panels refers to the concept of "the window", which was a pervasive theme in Victorian painting that described the confined feminine
experience to interiors, and is also intended to act as a device to look in and out and through time .This second work, of textile and mirror/glass, is less decorative than the first, and has a reflective relationship with the body.
Two collaborative projects by the artists Anne Ferran and Anne Brennan were of interest: the first Secure the Shadow (1995) at the Hyde Park Barracks, researching the fragments of evidence left behind of a group of Irish colonial migrants. The second project, Twice Removed (2004) referred to the "Lacemakers of Calais" and three connected dates through history, 1848, 1909 and 2004. Other works by Anne Ferran are also important to this project, most particularly a 'survey exhibition' the ground, the air, (2008) which dealt with concepts of how 'the past haunts the present' and the importance of addressing and 'locating the gaps and silences in recorded history' regarding feminine place. Sally Smart's installations utilizing felt cutouts were of great interest to this project, and to a lesser degree Kara
Walker's work. Kate Just's concepts, imagery and combination of materials provided some helpful connections. I also found inspiration in Joseph Cornell's earlier work with eclectic boxes, describing a feminine 'place' that dealt with issues of longing, desire and mystery.
Influential texts for the project are: The Sacred and the Feminine (2007) edited by Griselda Pollock and Victoria Turvey Sauron, 15 essays by various authors that assist in gaining an understanding of feminine place. On Longing ... (1993) by Susan Stewart, particularly the last chapter Objects of Desire, a semiotic and psychoanalytical analysis of the nostalgic object through time, and Birds, Cages and Women in Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite Art (1990) by Elaine Shefer which gives a fascinating insight into the position of women in Victorian society and therefore an understanding of the psyche of the colonial women.
Through the two works I have sought to create a feminine space that evokes a narrative of history, its constraints and repression, longings, hopes and desires; and an acknowledgement that through this unwrapping of secrets comes the recognition that although opportunities now exist in the external world for the female, her interior secret world still remembers the past. I have drawn on a background of fashion and painting to develop a language that describes aspects of the sacred and erotic feminine from the female perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2011 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:56
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2017 01:50
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