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Curiosities and contradictions : a printmaker's exploration of environmental concerns using historically derived imagery


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Rees-Pagh, YD 2007 , 'Curiosities and contradictions : a printmaker's exploration of environmental concerns using historically derived imagery', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The project investigates the role of artwork as a medium with the potential to stimulate environmental awareness. The initial research focuses on ideas and visual imagery sourced from the Wunderkammer, cabinets of curiosities and natural history illustration, towards embracing them in my printmaking. My own perception of nature is not a utopian one. I am always conscious of the point where human endeavour touches and disrupts the natural world, causing some form of change. My work, in trying to address these changes to the natural world, uses the Wunderkammer as a metaphoric device to provoke thought on the process of environmental change, providing the opportunity to reflect on the permanence of loss, and perhaps the profound personal urge to recover the irretrievable.
The investigation follows on to examine selected contemporary artists whose work addresses environmental concerns, or who have been influenced by the phenomena of the above investigations. In the pivotal area of nature, art and environmental issues I discuss the Finnish artist Osmo Rauhala, whose work strongly addresses ecological concerns. The influence of the Wunderkammer is explored in the work of Mark Dion, Kiki Smith and Rosamund Purcell. The picturing of natural history and influence of historic natural history illustration is examined in the work of Walton Ford and Philip Taaffe. All of these artists are influenced by their own cultural background and personal concerns.
My printmaking for the project employs multi-layering combined with expressive mark making and surfacing. It is a process of transformation that brings together elements of time, memory, creation, distortion and obliteration. The work develops from abstraction to a more narrative style through the superimposition of imagery drawn from my research. The layered images work in opposition to one another, setting up visual responses where relationships, despite ambiguity, are open for interpretation.
The final presentation employs the Wunderkammer analogy as a strategy for display. The works are assembled in a 'cabinet of curiosity' configuration, the intent being to juxtapose the individual works in order to increase ambiguity, and create an added sense of wonder and awe. My overall purpose is to provide a visual stimulation that will be both aesthetic and provocative.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Rees-Pagh, YD
Keywords: Nature in art, Environment (Art), Cabinets of curiosities
Additional Information:

CD-ROM contains accompanying images. Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references

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