Unsettling country the sensation of painting in remote northern Australia

  • Caroline Rannersberger

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The results of my research are presented in three components: firstly, the exegesis, secondly the 2010 thesis exhibition, Unsettling Country, accompanying the exegesis, and thirdly, the catalogue and select works in the 2008 exhibition, Landscapes of Delight and Disquiet. This exegesis makes reference to both exhibitions and includes works produced from 2007 to 2010. It is divided into three parts: (I) Towards a philosophy of painting; (II) Beyond landscape; (III) Country in practice. Through my research I argue that painting from direct experience in the remote north of Australia can open up towards the development of a unique aesthetic. I develop my argument largely through the contemporary philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, contextualised within the work of key Australian painters, including Ian Fairweather, John Firth-Smith, Angelina George, Bardayal Nadjamerrek AO, Judy Watson and John Wolseley. I demonstrate my argument through my own practice painting directly on site, mainly in Arnhem Land and in my home studio in the rural area of Darwin in the Northern Territory. 

    To an extent, my work takes its point of departure from the contemporary sublime, with representations of the void a specific area of interest. My focus however, is on Australian painting. By combining an Australian context and the direct painting event with a Deleuzian analysis of my practice, I argue that it is possible to enunciate and render visible my perceptions of sensation within the void. I explore the void both as a fusion between virtual and actual space, and as a reincarnation of Western myth. The virtual is an experienced state of force and and the actual is the resultant painting, thus rendering visible the invisible. I develop the notion of Western myth as a concept parallel to traditional Indigenous painting practices to the extent that myth contributes to the experience and representation of country and sensation. 

    Part one sets out the framework for this discussion. Part two draws on field trips to Arnhem Land and demonstrates through philosophy how the experience of painting country directly on site exists outside the paradigm of landscape painting. In part three I discuss methods and outcomes of my painting practice, including a range of relevant exhibitions.

    Note: Permission to make available online not granted. See Library Service desk staff. SC TMF 2020 RANN
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCarole Wilson (Supervisor)

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