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Tamara Dean’s practice extends across photography, installation, and participatory works exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world and the role ritual plays in our lives. Natural cycles within time and space, life and death, nature, and spirituality contribute to her way of investigating the world around her.

Dean’s practice relies on her subjects experiencing and engaging with their environment and emotions well as her own inclusion in the ritual. The action of ‘going to’ and experiencing the location and subsequent ritual is as important as the photographic representation at the end.

Tamara Dean
is In Wild Air



Culture

Pre-Raphaelites


For as long as I can remember I have admired the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. I sought to bring this aesthetic to my early photographic works in my Ritualism and This too Shall Pass series. I am completely seduced by the colours, gestures, the landscape and illuminated figures. The sense of narrative, and the celebration of beauty.

John William Waterhouse would have to be the strongest and longest lasting influence on my work. As a teenager I had prints of Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) and The Lady of Shalott (1888) keeping me company on my bedroom walls. The extraordinary grace and beauty that Waterhouse depicted in his female figures captured my imagination from an early age. There was something about the women in his paintings that I could relate to. A sense of femininity and melancholy. His female figures felt as though they were a part of the natural landscape, they seemed completely at home in their surroundings. As a teenager I felt as though I was born in the wrong era and his paintings, in particular Hylas and the Nymphs tapped into my romantic notions of love. I think that the Waterhouse influence carries on in my work even today in terms of my choice of colour palette, the connection between the human figures and their natural environment, and my use of narrative. Last year my work Shoaling was acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), and when I visited AGSA to see it in the gallery I discovered that it was hanging in the same room as a Waterhouse painting Circe Individiosa (1892). This was an absolute life highlight for me, I am still pinching myself.

People

Jason deCaires Taylor


Jason deCaires Taylor is a British sculptor. If you are a fan of Damien Hirst’s new work Treasures From The Wreck of the Unbelievable then you will love Jason's work.

He has been creating underwater sculptures for over a decade. His concrete sculptures encourage the growth of coral on their surfaces, creating ecosystems and bringing his sculptures to life. The vivid colours and textures are extraordinary. His 2010 underwater sculpture museum, MUSA - El Museo subaquàtico de Arte (The Museum of Underwater Art) comprises of over 400 life sized sculptures in the Caribbean sea. It would be a life highlight to be able to witness these works in person one day.

Places

Matera


At the age of 20, whilst busking my way through Europe, I flew into Rome and within a couple of days had been directed to an ancient village called Matera. This was a place that captured my imagination like no other. What I came upon was an abandoned village built on a network of caves. There was a sense of history etched on every structure. I squatted in one of these decaying buildings with a couple of musicians, spending my days exploring the ancient, crumbling city, feeling like I was Indiana Jones. It was a place that stayed with me and I have always wanted to return to.

Things

Ellum Solar


Given that I work in the medium of photography it should come as no surprise that I have a fascination with light and illumination. More recently I came across the Ellum Solar light on Instagram which I pre-ordered online and it took about six months to find its way to me.

Most solar lights I come across are made of tacky plastic and emit a bluish light that I find off -putting. The Ellum Solar light is a beautifully designed timber encased solar powered light which emits a warm light. I plan to use it to light my photographic works and I also take it with me as a portable back-up light on my shoots for it I need a touch of illumination.

Thoughts

Natural Cycles


I am interested in the way that humans are connected to natural cycles. Despite our technologically saturated lives we still have these innate connections with the natural world. The gravitational pull of the moon controls the tides and it also influences the human body (given that the human body is made up of approximately 50-60% water) this is most obviously evident in the female menstrual cycle. Many medial professionals observe an increase in emergency cases and more women go into labour on the night of a full moon. There is something so beautiful in this relationship.

An underlying theme in my work is an acknowledgement that we are indeed a part of the natural world, and that ultimately, to wreak destruction upon nature is to wreak destruction upon ourselves.

Wildism

Stalker


The 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker completely blew my mind. When I watched it for the first time it was one of those moments in life where I thought - I should just give up now, what more is there to say? The man was a genius. Through Stalker I was introduced me to the notion of the 'reveal' which I think has filtered into my photographic works. Mostly in terms of the narrative of what is happening outside of the frame of the photo which is left up to the viewers imagination. I remain totally in awe of the scenes he created, as well as his use of light, colour, and symbolism.