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Belinda Allen - digital art and photomedia

Belinda photo

Since graduating with the prize in Printmaking at the South Australian School of Art, Belinda Allen has worked for many years in a variety of photographic and digital media, sometimes incorporating painting, drawing and sculptural assemblage.

Belinda is a long-time resident of Bundeena in the Royal National Park south of Sydney, and regularly exhibits in solo and group exhibitions in Sydney and Sutherland Shire, particularly at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre in Gymea, where she has also initiated and coordinated group exhibitions. (http://belindaallen.wordpress.com/exhibitions).

She has been a finalist in recent years in many selective exhibitions, including the Hazelhurst Biennial Art on Paper award, The Blake Prize for Religious Art, and the ‘Sydney Life’ Photographic exhibition in Hyde Park, Sydney.

Belinda’s educational and working background is in printmaking, photography and graphic design, and she has worked for many years at the University of New South Wales as graphic and educational designer.

Biography

  • 2010 - Reading for PhD on Creative Curriculum.
  • 2009-10 - Travel around Australia imaging landscape, particularly Red Centre and Murray River.
  • 2005-9 - Artwork incorporates digital video compositing and production. Selected for Blake Prize and Sydney Life exhibitions.
  • 2000-4 - Master of Education (Educational Technology)
  • 2000 - Digital technology supersedes darkroom manipulation. Work uses both digital and film SLR cameras, and composited using Photoshop before outputting to digital archival print.
  • 1990 - Moved to Bundeena in the Royal National Park, artwork becomes more landscape-based.
  • 1983 - Spent a year travelling and photographing in Europe and the UK, returned to Sydney, married (artist and teacher Christopher Lawrie) and had two sons.
  • 1980 – Graphic design diploma studies; began working at UNSW as graphic designer and animator for educational resources.
  • 1978 - Moved to Sydney, worked as a freelance photographer and studied graphic design, while continuing art practice. Worked as a graphic designer at the University of New South Wales, and in Newtown studio, producing screenprints and manipulated photography.
  • 1974 - 77 South Australian School of Art majoring in Printmaking.

Education

  • 2010 - :PhD (School of Education, UNSW) - in progress
  • 2002 - 2004: Master of Education (Educational Technology), USQ.
  • 2000 - 2001: Graduate Certificate in Education Technology, USQ.
  • 1980-82: Graphic design diploma, NSW TAFE (not completed)
  • 1974-77: Diploma of Fine Art, Torrens CAE. (4-yr degree equivalent)

Employment

  • 2006 – present: eLearning designer & Academic developer, Learning & Teaching @UNSW
  • 2004 – 2006: Educational graphics manager and educational designer, EDTeC, UNSW
  • 2000 – 2004: Senior graphic designer, Educational Development and Technology Centre, UNSW
  • 1996 -1999: Design studio manager for Media and Educational Technology Support Unit, UNSW
  • 1980 -1995: Graphic designer, Audio Visual Unit, UNSW
  • 1978-1980: Freelance photographer and silkscreen printer

Artist statement

Humans are currently at a critical crossroads in their relationship to environment, with the destructive effects of human ‘civilisation’ now acknowledged and investigated in the arenas of politics and popular media, and no longer confined to scientific and environmental intellectual enclaves. With urgent and substantial evidence now emerging of the potential catastrophe for human life on earth, as well as the accelerating decline in the diversity of other species through habitat destruction, there has never been a greater incentive to rethink the relationship of western cultures to their environment, and to investigate what less ‘developed’ cultures may offer in the ways that they relate to the land they inhabit.

In western European cultures, of which Australia is one in spite of its anomalous geographic location, the landscape has long been depicted for the most part as either property or idyll. I propose that seeking the idyllic, developed as antithesis to land commodification, is proxy for a true spiritual relationship to land. In the context of a culture whose edifices and lifestyles serve generally to alienate its residents from the ‘natural’ in their environment, we experience an intrinsic and chronic hunger for the kind of archetypal and meaningful experience of nature and place that we see expressed by indigenous cultures. Experience of the preserved natural environment offers an opportunity to re- engage with landscape, seeking both physical connection and spiritual renewal. Each of us has our own ‘sacred sites’ – those places that are embedded in our lives, and associated with a sense of rapture, of connection to a realm beyond the mundane.

While landscape may be depicted in western art as a metaphor for spiritual experience, in some other cultures, Aboriginal for instance, landscape is represented as more than a metaphor - relationship to environment is an integral part of spiritual life, and has a direct relationship to the physical sustainability of lifestyle.

For several years I have been exploring the landscape as a metaphor for human relationship to environment, culture and heritage. In this I attempt to revive and reconnect symbols, archetypes and texts of a cultural and spiritual inheritance, and to re-establish a connection between our spiritual and actual landscape. I examine immigrant responses to the Australian landscape and contrast them to indigenous relationship to environment.

Recently the depiction of natural environments in ‘mandala’ format has been a strong theme in my art, reflecting similar representations in the sacred images of both eastern spiritual practice and the gothic- themed architecture and imagery of western places of worship (eg, the ‘rose’ window). Such depictions express the potential for a transcendental relationship to landscape, and invite an immersive and meditative experience.

My recent series’, Welcome to country and Wounded country superimpose and juxtapose documents of early white settlement over contemporary natural landscapes, and incorporate iconic symbols of nature and spirituality with vintage book pages representing a range of responses to Australian settlement.

My work over the years has explored a variety of photographic media, and incorporated painting, drawing and sculptural assemblage.  Currently it is focused around the use of digital photography and video. As well as the textures of Australian landscape, sources for my work include mythological, historical and religious texts, and documents and literature of early Australian settlement. These lenses provide views of landscape and environment that subvert notions of land and environment as property that we seek to control, repositioning it as a context for our spiritual and philosophical as well as physical lives.

For portfolio of current work see http://belindaallen.wordpress.com

Belinda Allen, August 2010

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

  • 2010
    - Blake Prize Director's Cut Exhibition
    - Stanthorpe Art Festival, Stanthorpe RAG, Qld.
    - Outback Art Prize, Broken Hill Regional Gallery
    - Photography Award, Muswellbrook Regional Gallery

  • 2009
    - Art on Paper - Hazelhurst Regional Gallery Award
    - Fishers Ghost Art Award finalist, Campbelltown Regional Gallery

  • 2008
    - Fishers Ghost Art Award finalist, Campbelltown Regional Gallery, NSW

  • 2007
    - Art on Paper Prize- Hazelhurst Regional Gallery Award
    - Tribes & Totems, Toyota Community Spirit Gallery
    - 'Southern Exposure V', Time Dome Akashi (Historical Museum and Planetarium), Tokyo (selected works)

  • 2006
    - 'Southern Exposure V', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery
    - 'CHIASMA' - 3 women artists at Hazelhurst Community Gallery, Gymea
    - Blake Prize exhibition, National Art School Gallery, East Sydney
    - ‘Sydney Life’, Hyde Park, Sydney (Art & About Festival)
    - ERGON Energy Award - Rockhampton Regional Art Gallery - Sponsor purchase

  • 2005
    'Southern Exposure IV', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery

  • 2004
    'Environmental Art Award', Highly Commended, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst

  • 2003
    'Naturally Inspired', Bundeena & Mainabar Photographers, Hazelhurst Community Gallery
    'Southern Exposure III', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery (see http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/12/1055220706988.html)
    'Environmental Art Award', First prize, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst
    'Sutherland Shire Art on Paper Prize', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea

  • 2002
    'Southern Exposure II', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery
    'Environmental Art Award', Winner - People's Choice, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst

  • 2001
    'Southern Exposure', Centenary of Federation Exhibition, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea

  • 2000
    'Southern Sydney Artists', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea

  • 1999
    'ENTANGLEMENTS', 2-man exhibition, PCL exhibitionists, Sydney

  • 1998
    'Bundeena Artists', AAP Centre, Sydney
    (18 artists including Garry Shead, Bob Marchant, George Gittoes & Jiawei Shen)

  • 1996
    'LABYRINTH', Solo exhibition, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst

  • 1995
    TAP Art Prize winner, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst
    Winner, Photography, Waverly Art Prize

  • 1994
    'DREAMING', Solo exhibition, Holdsworth Galleries

  • 1985
    The Developed Image, Adelaide
    First Impression Gallery, Ultimo

  • 1984
    'Four in Hand', The Gallery, NSW House, London
    Silkscreens, Tynte Gallery, North Adelaide
    Sydney Printmakers, Blaxland Gallery
    Fairfax Photography Award, AGNSW

  • 1983
    Tynte Gallery, North Adelaide (with Barbara Hanrahan, Judith Rodriguez & Yvonne Boag)

  • 1982
    'The Panel Show', ACP, Paddington
    'From the Inside Out', Women & Arts Festival, Crafts Council Gallery