Archetypes and land: Spiritual belonging

Barbel Ullrich

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    My proposed area of research is the representation of land within a specific area or place to which I have a deep sense of connection or belonging.

    Fig.1: Bärbel Ullrich Under Mount Bogong Photograph
    I have aimed to depict the landscape as a manifestation of the creative force, that comes from the notion of Gaia where Earth is a living being, and, as such imbue it with a sense of spirituality. My work intends to reflect the need for a spiritual shift in our attitude to the environment as the unity of existence and the interconnectedness of life on the planet is the basis of my philosophy. I argue that there is a need to move away from the European pictorial conventions of representation of landscape which embody the dualistic philosophy that humans are not only separate from, but above nature and the non-human world.
    I have focused on the microcosm where images reflect the particularities of place but also have universal qualities. As such, an important element in my research has been the use and meaning of particular archetypal symbols drawn from both Christian and Pre or non-Christian mythologies. The predominant symbols that I have used in my art making are the circle and the axis mundi, the symbolism of the centre with other symbols such as the elements; earth, fire, water and air.
    My work has been exploring a new personal visual language that is in homage to Mother Earth, the Great Goddess and the Gaia principle. It will contribute to the current changes and ‘shift’ in representations of land from the past ideologies and cultural attitudes imbedded in the Australian landscape ‘tradition’. This includes researching, discussing and acknowledging new philosophies and ideas about nature which profess the need for a respectful, material and relational participation in the world.
    While respecting Indigenous Australian culture and spirituality and acknowledging past histories, I have aimed to find a personal sense of belonging to place and a new personal language of representing land that is not Indigenous Australian but also breaks with and decolonises Western landscape tradition.
    The aim of the work is to show the primacy of land as sacred, the interconnection of all life on the planet and the evolution of our imagination towards inwardness and connection with a greater whole – a move away from our outward anthropocentric view and intense preoccupation with the human towards a focus on the world and environment where the earth is seen as the primary symbol of ‘God’ or Goddess’ – the divinity, the transcendent.
    The methodology includes the development of imagery and concepts by art practice and research, experimentation with materials and techniques. I aim to imbue the work with mysticism and a sense of the fragility of our eco system and the delicacy and complexity of the Australian landscape. I have worked in collaboration with nature/land where I have created images from and with/within the landscape rather than of the landscape.
    I have used the artists book concept utilising mixed media and printmaking on paper and fabric to create/develop a body of exhibition work informed by research of the above and re-presented from a personal interpretation of images of land in my site-specific environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Bowker, Sam, Principal Supervisor
    Award date01 Aug 2018
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2019


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