Victoria Howlett

In Pursuit of Desirelines: A Woman in the Landscape

PhD candidate

  • Victoria Howlett

The works in this exhibition document a journey that weaves back and forth between the past and the present, between reality and desire, observation and perception, through an exploration of site, gender, narrative and memory. The associated research project traced a physical journey through a landscape of shared women’s bush painting camps, with that journey acting as a metaphor for an emotional journey in search of self: an unfolding towards my own inner landscapes of desire.

Each visual outcome reflects an intuitive response to an individual site, as mood, weather, the solidarity of sharing our women’s stories by the campfires, and echoes of other landscapes remembered, inform the works.

Memory and history combine in an exploration of the position of a white woman painting in this shared Australian landscape, as recollections of childhood associations with bush and desert, are melded with an awareness of Aboriginal culture and history that is scored deeply into the land — these converging influences have informed my perception of the bush and desert, and the framing of notions of belonging.

The (mostly) gendered spaces of the camps, with their sense of autonomy as we faced the challenges that are inevitably associated with isolated bush camping, offer a model of possibilities within women’s initiatives.