The inimitable Mr Meek: Re-discovering a lost art Joan Luxemburg undertook a research project about James McKain Archibald Job Meek (1815-1899), who was an early Victorian pioneer and graphic artist. Jointly supervised by Associate Professor Jennifer Jones-O’Neill, Arts Academy, and Gordon Morrison, Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the project was threefold: the re-discovery of Meek's body of art work for an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in June 2015; the preparation of a catalogue of essays and images to accompany the exhibition; and the completion of an exegesis.
James McKain Archibald Job Meek (1815-1899) was an early Victorian pioneer and graphic artist. Meek arrived on the Ballarat goldfields in December 1851 and stayed long enough to make his fortune. After a boom and bust career around Victoria and in New Zealand, he returned to Ballarat for the last decade of his life in the 1890s. Meek was a colourful and versatile character, a mariner, miner, explorer, entrepreneur, writer, graphic artist and miniature calligrapher. Meek's diaries and works yield fascinating information on the early years of the colonies and, in particular, offer another insight into 19th century Ballarat.
An Un-natural History: paradox, wonder and The Glass Flowers This examination of the Glass Flower display at the Harvard Natural History Museum, formally known as the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, and their visual representation has been informed and challenged by an understanding of their paradoxical and enigmatic position between science and art, nature and culture. In Dena’s artwork this ambivalence about the Flowers as objects of scientific certainty, and about the museum as a site of control, is expressed as an increasing tension between representation and abstraction, the precise rendition of form and the visibility of the medium of oil paint.
Relic of Memories: An Examination of Nostalgia and Longing in an Old Victorian Manse An old Victorian manse and its accumulations are especially potent symbols of place and memory. The old dwelling and garden stir collective as well as individual memories which were deeply personal and spiritual. Elements of the building, as well as old and new plantings in the garden, converge as unique and irreplaceable marks of human existence, nostalgia, and longing. The character of the house and garden is an exposition of European identity; Noirin’s investigation was an attempt to explicate the hybrid nature of the manse through the lens of visual art to convey an atmosphere of age, memory, and continuity.
This project considered Jay Appleton’s principles as they apply beyond a simple notion of landscape. It tests the resilience and relevance of prospect-refuge theory within a specific setting in the suburb of Sunshine, in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Two spaces within this setting are considered in particular: the archetypal spaces of suburban home and suburban nature strip. The medium of photography was employed as a tool to create aesthetic responses to these spaces. The theory becomes the impetus for a series of images that consider, respond to, and question the relevance of prospect-refuge theory within contemporary arts practice.
This research created the conditions within which the visitor could develop a heightened awareness of their associations through sensory experience and discover that those associations are always tethered to the past, shaping the ways in which they encounter the world. The empirical notion that reality can be experienced firsthand has been mostly abandoned in favour of the view that reality is constructed through language and culture. As such ‘meaning’, in this body of research, is found in the awareness that the past informs and shapes the experience of the present moment.
Pleasure Framed: the potential of constraint in the art process as a means to aesthetic freedom and positive connection to places of past colonialism. This research was a personal exploratory journey through the potential of constraint, to find aesthetic freedom and positive connection with places of past colonisation – in particular Lake Mungo in New South Wales, and places connected with Wendy’s pastoral background in New Zealand. The colonised landscapes, associated with disconnection from nature and Indigenous cultures, were represented by the fence and the art frame. New found artistic freedom enabled the project's innovative use of the art frame, once a thing of separation, to become a thing of connection, as nature, culture and art were brought together and, as a result, experienced as pleasure framed.