Extreme weather conditions in regional Victoria: a reflection and response through painting and sound

Wilson, B 2018, Extreme weather conditions in regional Victoria: a reflection and response through painting and sound, Masters by Research, Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Extreme weather conditions in regional Victoria: a reflection and response through painting and sound
Author(s) Wilson, B
Year 2018
Abstract Through the creation of paintings, drawings, digital images and sound art, I combined my own memories of regional living with selected personal and historical accounts of others to create a body of artworks that investigated extreme weather conditions, especially those such as bushfire, drought and flood, that have taken place in North-East Victoria. In recent times, the issues surrounding extreme weather conditions in Australia have come into stronger focus, as many regional communities are being battered by the devastating impacts of challenging and harsh weather conditions. How weather affected inhabitants, and the emotional impacts of extreme weather have been a critical aspect of my research project.

Themes that were investigated in this project include; memory and belonging to place, change and time and the landscapepainting genre to develop a particular narrative of living in regional Australia with a focus on the townships of Wangaratta and Milawa in North East Victoria. Change and time focused on a transformation of an environment changing over time from green pastures with fat livestock, to a drought-stricken barren waste-land. This occurred during a fourteen-year drought known as the Millennium Drought or Big Dry (1996–2010) in many regions throughout Australia including North East Victoria where I was living at the time. This drought made a strong impact on my family and I, in particular the realisation that water was a precious commodity and the lack of water during this time was a struggle. However, what did emerge during this drought period was a strong community spirit which supports the theme in this project of belonging to place. This relates to my own sense of community and connectedness to home. In this project, I have explored the emotional effects of environmental alteration and its subsequent challenges. These themes correlate to memories of my childhood home and intimate familiarity with regional settings.

The objective of the project was to portray memories of the Millennium Drought period through the development of artworks and this was initially undertaken with a photoshoot in January 2014. Though four years after the Millennium Drought had broken, the land of South Wangaratta was dry and brittle by the scorching summer heat. The photographs were of my father Michael Wilson (1941-) and documented the change in temperature over a period of six hours as shadows moved across the land, the sun’s glaze became hotter and the light on the ground transformed from darkness to intense light. These photographs began a process of my capturing the terrain and impressions of the terra firma in North East Victoria and working through the narrative. I captured on audio my father retelling his thoughts on the region, and his lived experiences of the impacts of extreme weather. The project saw the creation of oil paintings, mixed media drawings, digital drawings and sound works. The sound recordings were undertaken in the township of Milawa, situated thirty minutes from Wangaratta in the King Valley during gusty dry winds where I recorded a soundscape of the environment.

The project marries fine art methodologies with digital media and contributes to contemporary art practices that re-imagine the ways that weather can impact the environment and inhabitants living on the land. The artworks created are overall a documentation of my stories and memories from North East Victoria. The project has become a personal narrative of my own time spent in a regional community and my interactions with witnessing changing environmental conditions. The practice-led research examines perception and relationships to changes in weather. The focus is on personal recollections of living through changing and challenging weather conditions rather than climate change. Through the four years undertaking the Master’s part-time, the project has allowed for discovery and exploration both artistically and through a reconnection to my past. The project has resulted in an exhibition that portrays painting and drawing and is complemented by sound works which convey feelings of solastagia.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Subjects Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)
Keyword(s) Contemporary Art
Landscape painting
Extreme weather
Visual arts
Digital Art
Fine Art
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Created: Fri, 12 Oct 2018, 13:21:47 EST by Denise Paciocco
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