Monash University
Julian_Holcroft_PhD_FINAL__AMENDMENTS.pdf (4.17 MB)


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posted on 2019-11-15, 00:22 authored by JULIAN HOLCROFT
Where does the ruin start or end? Is a ruin a self-contained object, a process of evolution or a symptom of collapse? Does natural force or human intervention change how we respond to the ruin? In ‘Translating Ruins in Post-Earthquake Practice’ these questions coalesce around a single visual image—Gustave Doré’s 1872 engraving The New Zealander which depicts the figure of an artist traveller sketching the future ruins of the City of London sometime in the distant future. The experience of the post-earthquake environment of the City of Christchurch and Walter Benjamin’s repurposing of eyewitness accounts of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake from Enlightenment for Children (1933), establishes my study and transcription of ruins through memory as a ‘post-earthquake’ practice. I argue that this is a practice that can unlock a political, economic and creative interpretation of ruins. This is a position grounded in my studio practice and explored in a series of photo-media epoxy resin and plastic relief collages that reside between painting, sculpture and architecture. The repurposing of materials and art objects as a form of creative substitution informs the studio research through projects that embrace bricolage, fragmentation and ceramic restoration techniques.

The relationship of the mid-twentieth century sculptural, photographic and site-specific work of the artist Robert Smithson to a medieval and renaissance conception of ruins and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499), an early typology of ruins, also provides a new context for a contemporary reassessment of the modern ruin and the place of the ‘fragment’ in contemporary art practice.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Luke Morgan

Additional supervisor 1

Kathy Temin

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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