Bärbel Ullrich

Connecting, listening and collaborating with Land through Art

The tradition of ‘landscape’ painting in Australia is evolving as our culture, religious beliefs and attitudes about land, our place and our relationship to it is changing due to ecological crisis, global warming and climate change.

I believe that what is important today is the creation of a new human spiritual relationship to land/nature and the non-human world.

In my land-based art work, which focuses on my property under Mount Bogong in Victoria, I am searching for new ways of looking at and visually interpreting the Australian natural environment that breaks with European pictorial conventions – such as ‘framing’ a landscape, controlling a view, power over nature. This search is for a spiritual connection with space and place – spiritual belonging. I have worked in collaboration with nature/land and have created images from and with/within the landscape rather than of the landscape. My process is to interact and listen to the environment. I leave the canvas/paper out in the weather, buried using materials found in the environment such as dirt, water and charcoal. After a period of time, I take the work back to the studio and build up layers with overprinting, drawing and collaging.

By recording different layers, surfaces, observations, visual diversities and complexities – an ecological palimpsest of the experience of the land is created. This contributes to the emerging sense that we are not separate from the environment but we are all part of a greater whole and need to rethink our ecological ethics.

Bärbel is a visual artist/printmaker who lives in a property at the foothills of Mt Bogong in Victoria, Australia. Her current project is working in collaboration with the environment to produce prints that imbue the spirit of place. She states: “I have deliberately chosen to create site related works from ‘my place’ as it is where I live and where I feel I have a strong spiritual connection. Through this work I have aimed to understand myself and my artistic practice in greater depth as well as getting to know the ‘bush’ environment surrounding my home dwelling.”

She has endeavoured to interact and use material from the environment. The concept that everything is alive is an important philosophy that underlies and informs her work.

It is this participation and communication with place that forms the basis of her artmaking.

Zoom session recording:

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