Bärbel Ullrich

THE SHROUD OF DARKNESS, 2020 (details)

Mixed Media on Canvas. Height 510cm, width 170cm. Canvas buried for about 3 months and stitched and stencilled in studio. Work is in progress indefinitely.

Artist’s Statement

My interest lies in the complexities, layers and mysteries of nature, land and environment. My work explores the notion of ‘place’ and the essence of place – where the land is not only observed but experienced through emotion and intuition. I wish to represent the essence of the place, its form, structure and surface appearance.

In my work I have taken a different approach than representing the traditional ‘view’ of the land. 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 with the environment and to leave the canvas 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.

This process allows me to capture aspects of the rhythms, energy and movements in the environment. The details explore the microcosm, fractal patterns, textures, colours and shapes, especially the local characteristics of specific places.

Concepts include time, change, growth and chance. Reference is made to the elemental forces and symbols in the environment – water, wood, rocks, leaves, earth, drought and rain. The order and form in nature and the creative force pervading all nature is of particular interest to me and a focus for the work. The idea of the interconnectedness of all life on earth is my philosophical basis.

I aim to capture the richness, variety, delicacy and spirit of our fragile environment.

I believe that ‘listening’ is an active process involving paying attention, engaging and interacting with the non-human world. It is a way of communicating and connecting with the environment and the multitude of Earth language – the sounds, smells, and behaviour, the flowering trees, the seasons, and the comings and goings of birds, insects and other creatures, and the silences too.

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.


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