GHOSTS IN THE LANDSCAPE is an installation by Elizabeth Barsham in the Lightbox at the Salamanca Arts Centre, 1 – 30 September, 2015.
Barsham’s work explores the relationship between people and nature. Drawing on old family stories and photographs and the Tasmanian landscape as affected by human activity, she has developed a powerful personal symbolism in which figures take on the twisted forms of native vegetation, trees and rocks resemble watchful beasts and abandoned machinery roams the countryside.
Boundaries are blurred and perspectives shifted.
The centrepiece of this installation is a painting called McCrae’s Hill, the name of a property in northern Tasmania where a murder is said to have been committed in the early nineteenth century.
Distorted, skeletal figures rise from a pile of unidentifiable detritus; the ruined farmhouse looms against stormclouds. The mood is sombre, the intent ambiguous. Sculptures and found objects in front of the painting extend the imagery into the real world.
Barsham picked up these remnants of decaying agricultural machinery around the sheds on her family farm. Every metal relic was once part of some useful, functioning implement; exposed to the elements for more than three quarters of a century it has broken apart, rusted beyond recognition, its original purpose long forgotten.
The three sculptural figures are assembled from sticks, rag and wire, painted with iron oxides to match the other pieces. They are stick figures, frivolous, fragile and ephemeral as memory.
The overall effect is both fascinating and very disquieting.
• The central painting, McCrae’s Hill, is for sale; interested persons can contact Elizabeth Barsham at her website, www.tasmaniangothic.com.
Salamanca Arts Centre