Monash University
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Women of the Landschaft: how creativity articulates this reality

posted on 2017-01-09, 00:27 authored by Bennett, Julie Maree
How does creative practice express identity, culture and place for country women in Victoria? This research explores concepts of landscape and in particular, ‘farming landscape’ which has its own reading. I study the women who live in this landscape, specifically ‘creative’ country women. Embedding myself within the experiences of creative country women, my intent is to use photography and story to explore the meaning and value of creative expression and how this manifests itself for a selection of women in country Victoria. I portray the challenge presented by this landscape, both physically and culturally; explore how creative expression articulates such relations; uncover the participants’ needs to nurture and express this creativity; and also touch on issues of identity and meaning. The authoritative link between my art, myself and the collectivity process included in my work is intended to give solidarity of voice that becomes a tool for valorising the creative oeuvre of the women. I ask sociological questions with the purpose of giving visibility and voice to the women from a position of ‘authentic insider’, thus linking visual art and ethnology. This thesis also highlights issues regarding the relationship between my fieldwork, my interpretation and artistic representation generally. The studio based research is contextualized in the ‘connective’ model of exegesis. Here the polyvocality of the participants, established theorists and practitioners and my own voice are explained. The thesis provides evidence of research in the various perspectives of landscape and its components; the culture of farming; women’s place within this setting; the meaning of creativity and its place in our lives today. My purpose is to document a shift that sees landscape as an aesthetic view to landscape as being a farmer’s responsibility. This new focus changes the way landscape is seen. My ‘studio’ is vast, with thousands of kilometres covered to gather material. I have interviewed thirty- seven creative women in country Victoria and listened to their stories. By using photographic documentation as a method, practice and artistic style I explore the concept of creativity as well as the creative expressions of these women in their own setting and attempt to provide meanings and values to their stories. A further purpose is to interpret the landscape photographically and portray the farming context, the isolation and distance. The country women and their environment are intrinsically related. The complex interplay of how these women fit into this landscape, how place and culture intersect, is demonstrated in the German term landschaft. These women place themselves in the service of the land. They draw their very being from this relationship. The environment inspires their creativity and is reflected in this relationship. They are Women of the Landschaft. Findings in my research reveal that in most cases country women intuitively use a range of readily available mediums gleaned and improvised from their surroundings to make creative works that tell stories, teach and inspire. In the process they have found avenues for belonging, meaning and identity in isolated landscapes. The creator becomes so absorbed that time stops. Happiness flows. This thesis makes visible the importance of creativity to country women’s sense of self and well-being. In bringing these women, and myself, to a broader new audience in my final exhibition, I hope my actions as an advocate and caretaker for country women are validated. In reflecting society back on itself, I want to show how understandings of the difference between city and country bring greater communication, change, tolerance, closeness, appreciation, unity and support. The aim is for a result where ‘seeing’ becomes synonymous with insight.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Marian Hosking

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture