University of Tasmania
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Internalised landscapes : the vessel form in sculptural response to place

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thesis
posted on 2023-05-28, 10:02 authored by Sidebottom, TC
The question: How might the vessel form serve as a sculptural device for reflection on the sense of reverence and mystery experienced in Tasmanian landscapes?‚ÄövÑvp In doing so, it considers how a phenomenological understanding of embodied spatial experience and the integration of traces of the landscape can underpin and inform the sculptural translation of a personal response in the larger, macro-scale‚ÄövÑvp environment, to a much more intimate and private micro-scale‚ÄövÑvp environment. As a studio-based investigation, my research undertakes the creation of vessel forms to embody the sense of mystery, awe and reverence experienced in four selected Tasmanian landscapes ‚Äö- Mt Lyell, Fortescue Bay, Canoe Bay and Cape Hauy. The vessel form is defined in this project as both a container and a conduit for responses to place, with the landscape sites selected for this investigation all, in their own way, having elicited a powerful personal response. The conceptual framework underpinning this investigation is derived primarily from phenomenological theorists of architectural space - in particular, Juhani Pallasmaa, Peter Zumthor and Steven Holl, who advocate for the design of spaces which take into account all of the body's senses. The writings of these architects provide a deepened understanding of parameters, such as materiality, time, light, shadow and scale, which has been crucial in the development of my studio-based practice. Morebroadly, phenomenological conceptualisations of place by theorists such as Yi-Fu Tuan, Gaston Bachelard, and Jeff Malpas have been important for articulating the nature of the experience of place that I seek to evoke in the vessel forms. The writings of Susan Stewart and Jacques Derrida establish a framework for understanding the way in which the souvenir, or collected traces of landscape, can serve to embody our experiences. The psychological power and necessity of secret places are then highlighted by the writings of Gaston Bachelard and Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein. Particularly influential figures for my work include artists Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell and Donald Judd, craftsman Damien Wright and architect Peter Zumthor. All of these artists work with the vessel form, imbuing small spaces with their own sense of aura, and in some cases integrating found objects. Wright's work considers the meaning in materiality and Zumthor's architectural approach exemplifies a phenomenological understanding of embodied spatial experience. By way of final studio outcomes for the research, a series of nine sculptural vessel forms has emerged which provides a range of different approaches to containment, concealment and revelation‚ÄövÑvp. Material contrasts reference a sense of tension between timescales in the selected landscapes. Contrasting light and shadow brings both clarity and obscurity of depth. An intimate scale invites closer inspection, while allowing personal reflection upon the enigmatic nature of the wider Tasmanian environment. The collected traces of landscape could be interpreted here as charmed relics, each prompting in their own way a sense of wonder, mystery and fascination. Enabled by the vessel form, these intricately detailed traces are revered for their fundamental connection to both time and place.

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