ILIRI's prime focus is to facilitate, investigate and promote contemporary dialogue relating to imaging and imagining the land. At the same time the Initiative is committed to the advancement of research across an interdisciplinary spectrum of visual, conceptual and theoretical approaches to issues of land and land-based image making.
Louise Fowler-Smith discusses the Imaging the Land International Research Institute (ILIRI) here.
ILIRI research candidates, working in the area of land imaging at Masters and PhD levels, are drawn from the UNSW Art & Design Undergraduate and Honours corpus, and other Australian and International Institutions. ILIRI lecturers are recipients of major grants awarded for projects involving land-based research.
ILIRI is committed to facilitating research into issues relating to land, through provision of residencies in custom-built, live-in studios at the Fowler’s Gap Research Station in the semi-arid area of western New South Wales, north of Broken Hill. Australian and international artists, researchers in the arts and students who focus on issues of land, are eligible to apply.
All enquiries about a potential residency should be sent to email@example.com
Specialist electives focussed on direct engagement with the landscape have been developed by ILIRI. The courses are available to UNSW Art & Design Undergraduate, Honours and M.Art by Coursework students. Masters by Research and PhD candidates are supervised by ILIRI staff.
ILIRI field trips are supervised by faculty staff and upon their return to Sydney, the students attend classes and produce a body of work reflecting the world view that emerges from this unique landscape. At the conclusion of the Field Trips an exhibition of selected works is held. This exhibition comprises works produced in situ – out in the field and in the studios at Fowler’s Gap – and the work developed in the UNSW Art & Design studios.
The Ochre House
The Ochre House is situated in a remote gorge on the Station. The building is a single large space with bathroom and toilet facilities partitioned off and a generous balcony with gas barbecue. The House is powered by a 12V hybrid wind/photovoltaic system and has a recycling/composting system for waste management. Bedding and cooking/eating utensils are supplied. Cooking is al fresco on the outside barbecue, or inside on a single burner. A small 110 litre fridge is supplied. There are no communications (a satellite phone is strongly recommended) and no active cooling for hot weather.
The Green House
The Green House is situated beside Homestead Creek remote from but in view of the Homestead complex. The building is a single large space with bathroom and toilet facilities partitioned off and a generous balcony with gas barbecue. The House is powered by a 12V hybrid wind/photovoltaic system and has a recycling/composting system for waste management. Bedding and cooking/eating utensils are supplied. Cooking is al fresco on the outside barbecue, or inside on a single burner. A small 110 litre fridge is supplied. There are no communications and no active cooling for hot weather.
The Shearers' Quarters
Accommodation for medium-sized groups is provided in the Quarters. Eating facilities and bathroom are communal. Bedrooms have two single beds with electric blankets. The facility has ducted evaporative cooling for summer. A large space to seat up to 100 is available for seminars, conferences, teaching and workshops. AV facilities including digital project can be supplied.Free-to-air satellite television is available. A large kitchen with freezers and walk-in coolroom enables quality catering for large groups. A laundry is attached.
For more information please contact:
Ph: +61 2 413 692 033
In addition to attracting Postgraduate and Honours research students, ILIRI offers electives that focus on the environment:
Environment & Spirituality: Walking the Pilgrimage: natural and spiritual heritage in Wakayama, Japan
The Environment and Spirituality Elective takes place in southern Japan. It is offered by the UNSW Australia and Wakayama University (Japan) and runs as an intensive course for three weeks in January. Dr Kumi Kato, a Professor of Environmental Studies at Wakayama University, serves as the coordinator of the Japan program, with co-instructor Louise Fowler-Smith from UNSW.
The Field component of the course is preceded by a week of preparatory readings before travelling to Wakayama via Osaka/Kansai. This course focuses on the cultural significance of the natural world, both contemporary and historical, using the 1000-year-old Kumano-Kodo pilgrimage route in the Kii Mountans of Wakayama Prefecture. A World Heritage Site, the trail is cared for by the Japanese and Prefecture governments, as well as by the many villages and small towns through which the pilgrims walk. Hundreds of temples and shrines are located along the pathway, which crosses a rural landscape of waterfalls, cedar forests, mountain ridges, vegetable farms, orange groves, tea fields and clear rivers winding through narrow valleys. The pilgrimage route ends at three grand shrines: Hongu, Hayatama and Nachi Taisha.
The class also visits Koyasan, a legendary peak on which the monk Kükai founded the first Buddhist monastery in Japan in 816. Shingon Buddhism, the religious view developed by Kükai, adbocates that the world – both in its sentient and insentient forms – is the expression of the divine Buddha mind. The Shingon tradition, a Japanese form of esoteric Buddhism, constinues to exist in close alliance with Shinto traditions predating Buddhism’s introduction into Japan.
The course culminates with a residency in a Japanese village that involves community work, resulting in the construction of a public art work, after community consultation.
Art and Environment: Studies in the Field
Outback NSW Elective or General Education Course: SART 2855 and SART 9855 – 6 units
This intensive course is designed to engage students who have a concern for environmental issues, particularly in the arid zones of Australia.
The course focuses on perceptions of Land, in particular the semi-arid/arid zones, and explores a range of ideas from creative perspectives.
Students travel in the Winter break to Broken Hill and the UNSW Fowler's Gap Research Station, a remote desert location north of Broken Hill, where they engage with local resources and communities to address the question of how we see, interact with, live in, and represent an arid land under environmental stress. Students can interact with the land directly or produce models, concept drawings, paintings, sculpture, photographs, video or designs that explore sustainability, articulate their experience of the landscape and imagine new ways of interacting with this land.
This course is suitable for students studying fine arts, design, media arts, architecture, engineering, environmental humanities, environmental management or science who wish to explore their disciplines in the laboratory of an outback and arid environment. Students have 5 – 6 weeks after the Field trip to complete work for assessment. An exhibition of selected works is held in September at the COFAspace Gallery, at which time assessment occurs.
Enrolment/Enquiries: As this course includes a two-week residential component, there is a fee which includes accommodation, food, transport around Broken Hill and to Fowler’s Gap, and guest speakers/excursions. Enrolment will occur manually after a $500 deposit has been paid.
For further information, please contact Louise Fowler-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of ILIRI's key aims is to protect the environment from human-caused degradation. ILIRI has developed a concept that states that for humans to live a self-sustainable life, we need to 'RE-Cognise the land,' translating artistic vision into innovative ideas and practical applications in terms of the natural environment.
The Water Wall
The aim of the Water Wall is to provide insulation to a structure, using a freely available natural resource. After witnessing the rapid disappearance of water after rainfall in the arid zone at Fowlers Gap, Louise Fowler-Smith, director of ILIRI, proposed the idea of retaining rainwater in the walls of a structure for the purpose of recycling and utilising the water's thermal mass. A feasibility assessment was sought from the Advanced Engineering department of the University of Sydney, in order to develop a design solution for this concept. The propose: to achieve a comfortable and affordable living environment in very hot and dry conditions, through the innovative use of rainwater capture, basic engineering principles and locally sourced materials, such as recycled scrap metal left behind by the mining boom in Broken Hill. This effort is conceived as working towards an alternative to poor design and wasteful local building practices that require large amounts of energy for conventional air conditioning.
This idea has now grown to become a potential structure for the Broken Hill Art, Environment and Sustainability Hub, to be built in Broken Hill, whereby the building is a living art work dedicated to sustainability. ILIRI is working in partnership with the Broken Hill Art Exchange and other local stakeholders to further develop this concept.
Tree Veneration Society (TVS)
"The aim of the Tree Veneration Society is to honour all cultures in our multi-cultural society, at the same time as drawing attention to the importance of the natural environment". – Louise Fowler-Smith
The Tree Veneration Society falls under the umbrella of Imaging the Land International Research Initiative (ILIRI) at UNSW Art & Design, and was founded in 2011, by Louise Fowler Smith, senior lecturer at UNSW Art & Design and Director of ILIRI. As an artist-led initiative, it aims to re-contextualise the historical practice of worship and veneration of trees across cultures in the form of progressive contemporary community art projects. Through this cross-cultural celebration of nature, the Tree Veneration Society hopes to bring some sense of ritual and shared environmental awareness beyond the value of trees.
After initiating a community gathering to decorate the Jacaranda tree in the grounds of Pine Street Creative Arts Centre in Chippendale, The Tree Veneration Society celebrated the tree further through an art exhibition entitled “Canopy” at the Chippendale Child Care Centre at Pine Street in 2011. Furthermore, following a successful grant application to Sydney City Council, the Tree Veneration Society was invited to participate in the 2012 and the 2013 Chippendale BEAMS Festivals, which showcase the work of over 250 Chippendale artists each year. In 2013 the TVS was also invited to participate in the Intra Action multidisciplinary exhibition connected with the AASG2013 Conference at Sydney University.
The “veneration” does not stop at decorating. It is envisaged that, once identified by their decoration, these venerated trees, and the area around them, will become oases of contemplation for locals, and even remain the epicentre for future community celebrations. Paula Broom
For more information on the TVS please contact Louise Fowler-Smith.
Study of Transdisciplinary Mine Site Rehabilitation
The study is a survey of critical success factors underpinning effective programs for transformation of former un-remediated mine sites, involving visual art. ILIRI was successful in obtaining a seed grant for this project. This will result in a publication and will feed into the application process for an ARC grant.
Regional Australia continues to face challenges with lack of rehabilitation of a host of former mining sites, particularly in relation to water pollution, soil contamination and vegetation impacts. Many sites have remained un-remediated for decades. Examples can be found in and around the City of Broken Hill, where derelict land, lead-contaminated soil, discarded mining equipment and unwanted tailings dams in the urban area present a major problem. In some locations where communities have addressed these impacts, change has been achieved through transdisciplinary programs led by visual artists together with experts from other disciplines and in consultation with local stakeholders to drive decisions and actions.
Former mine site transformations involving communities and experts from a range of disciplines, including the visual arts and architecture, have international precedents. The study aims to fill a need for good-quality information on transdisciplinary mine-site rehabilitation internationally, that would inform the development of materials and interventions to address contaminated and derelict mining land issues in a number of Australian regions, including Broken Hill. The study is expected to inform future state and Commonwealth initiatives in mine rehabilitation, as a process of change towards a more sustainable environment.