University Of Tasmania
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Between spaces : a painterly investigation of uncertainty and belonging through the house museum

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:35 authored by Jones, BA
This project is driven by a personal preoccupation with the concept of home and how it can be represented through paintings. The fleeting, the glimpse, the uncertainty of belonging, loss, unease, yearning and hope are key concepts that have been investigated throughout the research. The research focuses on historic house museums as depictions of home that lie somewhere between reality and representation. The house museums chosen for this project include Elizabeth Farm, Narryna, Runneymede, Clarendon and Franklin House, historic houses built between 1793 and 1840. These museums were chosen for their example of Georgian architectural style and personal association. The aim of this research project is to produce paintings that evoke the intangible, the unseen, and the uncertain in relation to the house museum and the concepts of home that it can represent. Related to this key aim is an interest in depicting the simultaneous experience of presence and absence evident when visiting house museums. The research also responds to the tension between comfort and unease experienced in relation to home and the house museum and how these sensations can be evoked in paintings. The contextual research has investigated the passing of time, nostalgia, loss and longing, alongside absence and presence, through key texts and artists working within the field of interiors, nostalgia and memory. This includes the writings of Gaston Bachelard, Alain de Botton, Edward E, Casey and Dylan Trigg, and the work of artists Anne Wallace, Jane Burton, Edward Hopper, and Vilhelm Hammershoi. These key questions have guided my research: ‚Äö How can intangible concepts related to notions of home such as uncertainty, belonging, presence and absence be evoked in painting? ‚Äö How can paintings based on house museums allude to ambiguous and uncertain experiences without resorting to literal narrative devices? Studio research progressed from exterior studies of houses in the landscape to studies of interior spaces, with historic house museums ultimately settled on as the most appropriate sites for the collection of source imagery. The house museum as a subject provided a consistent research site which can be returned to with the expectation of minimal change. This shift in subject matter moved the focus of research subject matter away from the specifics of a place toward being more focused on expressing the intangible and ambiguous. The circle and ellipse as painting supports have been used with the intention to represent this ambiguity and to focus vision on selected aspects of the rooms. The shapes allude also to the peephole, the glimpse and the small and the intimate, while also referring to objects associated with domestic space such as mirrors and jewellery. These objects can trigger memories and be containers of memories, keepsakes, and surfaces which retain evidence of use. The hang of the project for final submission is intended to create fluidity and openness in the reading of the work with the intention being to represent the transitory and fleeting nature of memory, the ambiguity of home in relation to the house museum and the psychological experience of being within the museum space. The research outcomes revealed that paintings based on house museums can successfully represent uncertainty and belonging in relationship to home. The intentional cropping of the compositions inhibits the viewer from comprehending the entirety of the rooms depicted, adding to the feeling of uncertainty. The use of a small room space in the gallery to hang the work allows for peripheral vision of the works to be part of the experience of the work, further mimicking the ability of memory to be often fickle and difficult to grasp.


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