The Theinert View…

Ursula Theinert is no stranger to the Art Re-Source blog, and now being part of the Fields of View exhibition we chat to her again to find out some details.

News Flash!

Here’s an interview done on SBS… It’s great when artists can get media exposure like this! It’s called inspiration from disaster.


1. Tell us about the works you have created for this exhibition.

I have completed three works and have nearly finished another.  My first painting was done a few months after Black Saturday, and heralded a new start in my physical and emotional energy to begin my art practice again.  We had just rebuilt a garage and had gathered together, and been given art supplies from friends and strangers, who kindly wanted to help.  My father built me two beautiful easels and a painting table and so with all this support and space to paint I felt energized to begin.

My first painting is called ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and is an acrylic work on a 120 x 150cm canvas, with a similar composition to the many paintings that were destroyed by the fire, which had been stored in the workshop studio which burnt down.  This painting was a great release for me, a coming to an acceptance of what had happened, and acted almost in the same way a funeral does with the grieving of a loved one.  The composition is a panoramic view of the hills of Callignee, as an attempt to portray the vastness of the devastation and the acceptance of the destruction. I also incorporated text using all words beginning with the letter ‘f’ that related to the fire eg., firestorm, fear, flames etc .These words acted as an emotive purge of my feelings about the fire.   This was a necessary start to my grieving and led me to the next phase of my work which was the more spiritual awareness of the miracle like quality of escaping such a dangerous event.

My next painting is called ‘Fire Angels’,  a triptych of  three 120 x 120cm canvases, which as the title suggests deals with the profound sense of a spiritual presence which kept my husband and I safe against all odds.  We came close to death several times and yet somehow we did not panic, we were guided to safety at the right time, with many other coincidences and good fortunes occurring,  all aiding in the sense of an otherworldliness surrounding us.  My composition is based on looking up into the tree tops of our totally burnt trees just next to our little mud brick home.  The trees had crowned and the house next door was destroyed.  The repetition of the images is an attempt to show a reflection on the meaning of the scene and the recurrence of that view and repeated safe outcome of many others, but sadly not all, who had to face Black Saturday.  Again I use text beginning with the words ‘Fire angels’ and list words that relate to guiding and overseeing and ending up with a phrase of ‘’keeping vigil over us”.

My next triptych is ‘Changeling’, and this painting relates to the issues of the acceptance of change to one’s fate, and the tenuous reality of plans and ownership.  I am certain that I was at the ‘angry’ phase of the grieving process at this time because I ached for my home and garden and land and trees and life, just the way it was before the fire.  The gratefulness of being alive and still having some parts of our former life was overwhelmed with the pain of having to deal with the day to day realities of the aftermath.  Again there is text used to reinforce this unwanted change that we all felt,  examples being,  ‘our land’, ‘our home’, ’our community’, our plans, ‘our fate’ etc.

During this time the rebuilding continued at a steady pace and we felt that we had reached certain goals, with our studio and gallery, almost being completed, and the house becoming more comfortable too.  The frenzy of activity and the stresses and positive outcomes of this amazing year almost paralleled the regeneration of the trees around us.  That regrowth and reawakening of nature has I feel mirrored the repairing of our psyche and emotional strength, with my latest triptych depicting an almost joyous scene of hope and a new beginning.


2.  What does being an environmental expressionist mean to you?

It means I am concerned by the challenging environmental issues confronting and threatening our global future.  In my paintings I use text, colour and emotion to tap into the subconscious spiritual bond connecting us to nature to enhance the desire for innovative changes on a community level as well as globally.

I believe art has an important role to play in visually stimulating an audience with positive and negative messages which reinforce the need to nurture our world.  This visual approach is designed to inspire interest in environmental issues.  Art evokes deeply layered feelings, intuition and instinct within us all.  My works aim to facilitate contemplation and I believe intrinsically worthwhile outcomes occur when we experience another viewpoint and often all we need to do is to …”stop for a moment….!”

3.  What makes this exhibition so important, people should go and see it?

I feel Black Saturday touched everyone in Victoria, with the whole of the country ostensibly coming together and forming an emotional and psychological bond.  The fires are imbedded in our psyche, with this summer season highlighting the amount of interest, care and heightened awareness and education extracted from the painful experience of the fire and its aftermath.

This eclectic range of personal experience is reflected in some ways by the group of artists in Fields of View.  The artistic exploration of the five artists in this exhibition expresses their own individual experiences and perceptions through their own mediums in an evocative and dynamic way.   The complex environmental, philosophical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual issues that the fire has evoked in the artists will resonate with the community at large.   The ‘Fields of View’ theme is based on the Black Saturday fires but it also envelops larger issues, such as, the balance of the natural world, sustainability and conservation.   The power of art to stimulate, inform and encourage discussion through emotional creativity, indeed, can be seen in this valid example of environmental expressionism.

4.  Australian landscape is a well represented genre, what do you think Fields of View and your own work adds to the genre?

I thinks the Australian landscape has been depicted in many forms from the esoteric Aboriginal work, early European settlement, Australian Impressionists, Australian Expressionists and the contemporary art of today. Each have added to the whole journey, story of our history, way of viewing our world and each other.  I quite often feel Western artists have viewed the landscape as either romantically beautiful or foreboding and dangerous, and there is truth in both of these expressions of our surroundings.  However, I believe, artists are now seeing the land, the environment as the one being  threatened by humankind with the grave issues of the ‘balance’ in the natural world, sustainability and conservation all becoming the strong narrative feature of the work.

My focus is on the dichotomy between our love of our country and our use of our resources.  I feel we have a profound spiritual connection to the land, which I poignantly experienced during Black Saturday while I defended my home.   My work transcends known realities to the unknown otherworldly spiritual presences through our interaction with the environment.  I feel this spiritual bond heightens the enormous responsibility we have to our world and issues like sustainable wood supplies, carbon trading schemes and the many global challenges we face can only be addressed with fresh eyes and lateral thinking.

The Fields of View exhibition brings together five artists who were personally affected by the fires and who also explore the complex issues of our perceptions and our place in the world and our affect upon the environment.  We are passionate about art and our work, striving to express our narratives in a modern way, which is, to provide, create and enhance a greater understanding and awareness of environmental issues through art.


4 Responses to “The Theinert View…”

  1. Leonie Ryan on February 11th, 2010 10:44 am

    Dear Ursula. I really enjoyed your interview. It was engaging and gave me a greater depth of awareness into you, your work also the after effects of Black Saturday on your self and through your art work. Great interview!
    Love Leonie xx

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