University of Tasmania
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Familiar ground : expressing post-diasporic Scottish identity through collage and print

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:41 authored by Meeker, RH
The Masters research project was motivated by a desire to explore and represent my identity as a Scottish-Australian through the visual means of collage and printmaking. I aimed to investigate diaspora, displacement, the notion of a hand-medown homeland and an imagined place-based identity, which was pursued through an exploration of the tension between cultural experiences of the authentic (scottishry‚ÄövÑvp) and the kitch (tartanry‚ÄövÑvp). The topic looks back to my grandparents' arrival in Australia a century ago and considers the adherence to Scottish culture pursued by the following generations. The research appropriates a pictorial language common to the Scottish Diaspora and views it as a closed set: as having changed little since the 19th century. These images and symbols are considered in a Post-Modern and Post-Colonial context and I interrogated the role played by romanticism, myth and metaphor in the picturing of a Scottish homeland by the descendants of immigrant Scots and their descendants. Tartanry ‚Äö- the kitsch in Scottish culture, and Scottishry ‚Äö- the authentic, is discussed in this exegesis to yield insights on how attachments can be made to quite false aspects of Scottish history or culture. The visual thesis was developed through the mediums of collage and print, often integrating the appropriation devices of remediation and detournement. The exegesis elaborates on such method and outlines a rationale for various mediums including the role of collage in the image making and soft ground steel etching and photopolymer etchings in the plate making. Two series of works, The Imagineerings and Imagineering Metaphors were made in this manner. The third series, Field Research, was a response to a genealogical pilgrimage; a family reunion and commemorative occasion in Scotland. It was an authentic experience, but one still subject to input from my own imagination. This series features digitally enhanced prints interrupted by photopolymer etchings. My contextual field is described through analysis of various artists from fields influencing this submission including printmaking technique, collage and appropriation, Australian multicultural art, Scottish romanticism and Scottish identity. Two exhibitions, For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation staged at The Art Gallery of Ballarat, curated by Dr Alison Inglis and Patricia Tryon Macdonald, and Scottish Identity in Art, at the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, were also scrutinised for the purposes of contextualisation. Formed from cultural legacy, imagined home and homecoming, Familiar Ground stands alongside contemporary research into the Scottish diaspora, the idea of a peculiar Scottish gaze and a current re -emergence of conversation in regard to Scottish identity.


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