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In pursuit of desirelines: a woman in the landscape: a studio investigation of the role of gendered spaces in artists' bush camps, where memory and perception inform both the work outcomes and a journey towards self.

posted on 16.02.2017, 02:58 by Howlett, Victoria
Grounded in field and studio work, this experiential research project is a case study documenting a journey that weaves back and forth between the past and the present, between reality and desire, observation and perception, as it explores site, gender, narrative and memory. It is a physical journey through a landscape of shared women's bush painting camps that acts as a metaphor for an emotional journey in search of self: an unfolding towards my own inner landscapes of desire. The establishment of these camps, with their physical challenges and sense of solidarity, contribute to knowledge as a modelling of possibilities within women's initiatives. This exegesis charts a personal journey towards self-knowledge, and traces an exploration of what it means to be a white woman painting in the Australian landscape. My path towards a growing awareness of Aboriginal culture and history is traced, including an exploration of how that understanding informs my perception of the bush and desert, how it frames notions of belonging, and its impact on the studio research. My research process stems from an immersion in the camp sites that I have organised, where the gentle ambience of those places allowed for quiet introspection and the flow of recollections as they combined with an intuitive perception of the land. The main camps discussed here were situated at Mutawintji National Park, Murray Sunset National Park and the Great South West Walk. The methodology for collecting data from the sites ranged from plein air studies to the collection of found objects and the development of small studio research works, most of which eventually evolved into large multi panel oil on board works. Memories of early childhood experiences relating to the creative process and early bush associations, influenced much of that imagery, especially those relating to colour and texture. Around the camp fires we discussed feminist' issues, often informed by the writings of Belgian feminist and psychoanalyst Luce lrigaray, while we shared our women's stories and an appreciation of our solidarity, delighting in our sense of autonomy as we faced the challenges that are inevitably associated with isolated bush camping.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Dan Wollmering

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture