Australian artist Tanja Stark explores the themes of Suburban Gothic and the Sublime Divine through mixed media and photography, installation, painting and sculpture. Creating work through clay, paperbark, copper and wood, her iconic imagery takes archetypal forms both familiar and unique often centred around electric spirals and organic vessels.

Born in Mackay, now working from a bush studio outside of Brisbane, she is interested in the relationship between personal and collective trauma, healing and creative expression, with an emphasis on spiritual and psychological ideas in contemporary society.  She has exhibited and presented across Australia and overseas, together with professional experience in therapeutic counselling and research. She has a B.S.W from University of Queensland and published academic pieces on arts, mental health, trauma and jungian themes with Routledge and Bloomsbury Academic Press.

Artwork can be purchased at her Brisbane studio or online Store here.

Tanja is also available for therapeutic counselling sessions anchored poetry, music, art and philosophy by request. email: art.words.ideas@gmail.com ph : (Australia) : 0414 658 235
Facebook: Tanja Stark artist Instagram: tanjastark_artist

“If my work can be seen as an exploration of Suburban Gothic, where neurosis is entwined with complexes, trauma and destructive shadows, the Sublime Divine is my way of honouring the mysteries of transcendence that can emerge through these depths and the dark nights of the soul, infusing our terror with healing and hope”. 

SPiralling undercurrents, Artist Talk, Melbourne Jung SOciety 2022

Suburban Gothic and the Sublime Divine

I am sometimes asked what I mean by the concept of suburban gothic and the sublime divine. It’s a complex question, because, while my entire body of work spirals around these ideas, my thoughts around it are nebulous and ever evolving. Like my art, my life…and likely yours.

I am interested in ideas of transformation, alchemy, synchronicity and grace; powerful themes in my creative life, my professional work, and my spiritual explorations.

My conception of  ‘suburban gothic’ has been deeply influenced by intuitive experiences and psychoanalytical ideas of the shadow . The unconscious parts of domestic life and the psyche, beneath conscious awareness…those desires and feelings that have such a powerful influence on waking life, particularly when they constellate around trauma. It is where the ‘shadow’ is not acknowledged or integrated, but is repressed, projected, or inflated that the darkest aspects of ‘suburban gothic’ manifests.

Where European ideas of the ‘gothic’ evoke dark, haunted castles with layers of mystery, processing life as an Australian woman soaked under a southern sun, suburban gothic has become the thematic way I conceptualise the modern, domestic manifestations of ancient anxieties, traumas, and primal fears. A place where the brightest light casts the darkest shadows – of seen and unseen forces, the mysterious, the subterranean, the dark and the haunting that infuse layers of inter-generational trauma with social workers and shrinks, refuges and wellness retreats. The cracks before the light gets in.

“I am interested in exploring the shadow side of suburbia that seeps up over renovated decks on gentrified avenues, across freshly laid turf in new estates, out past the mongrel dogs on frayed ropes in working class sprawl. I am intrigued by paradoxical motivations and garden variety neurosis, by physical scars and metaphorical wounds…in the containment of flesh, passion and spirituality in neat domestic packages and therapist’s drawers “

TanJa Stark artist catalogue 2002

Yet, in as much as I am fascinated by gothic shadows, my art and my life has been pierced through, and perhaps contained within, the mysterious and transformational forces of the Sublime and the Divine.

It is hard to articulate in words what I mean by this, because for most of us stumbling about this territory this realm is deeply symbolic and experiential, and mystical, transcendent and beyond intellectual understanding.

Traditional notions of the Sublime conjure up images of profound moments that leave our souls simultaneously humbled and ablaze; burning with an exquisite mix of awe and terror through encounters with the forces greater than ourselves; wild storms and raging bushfires, the infinite spiral galaxy of stars above. It is the realm of Otto’s Numinosum, the metaphysical, sacred, and transcendent dimension, the experience of mystery, fear, awe, beauty and majesty.

The sublime echoes in the energies that pulse around and through us, at the precipices and edges of existence, in encounters with spirit, death and rebirth. As a woman who traverses the psyche of our imitate spaces, the sublime manifests in the moon and her power to move the ocean as she mirrors the rhythms of lifeblood through a woman’s body. The sublime meets us through fever dreams and visionary experiences, in spinning suburban car crashes and breathtaking orgasms, in the agony and ecstasy of childbirth. It is the light that breaks through after breakdowns, imbuing the shadows of life with alchemic transformations of beauty and meaning beyond ourselves.

The sublime does not negate the gothic, the sublime is transcendent, expanding us, beyond our boundaries of duality into realms that allow us to glimpse the…unknowable.
Sometimes there are no words.
There are only symbols.
This is why I create.

The sublime does not negate the gothic, the sublime is transcendent, expanding us, beyond our boundaries of duality into realms that allow us to glimpse the…unknowable.

tanja stark artist catalogue 2011

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Contact Tanja Stark
email: art.words.ideas@gmail.com
Phone: (Australia) : 0414 658 235
Instagram: tanjastark_artist

“…dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous”  

King Leopold of Belgium to Queen Victoria 1845

The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” 

kurt vonnegut


8 thoughts on “about

  1. I never know which page to use to say thank you if people have liked my blog – so I just picked this one! Thank you for visiting me.
    I have a family full of art students and Bowie fans, so I shall be sharing your blog with them.

  2. Dear Tanya

    I noticed on Facebook today Tony Visconti’s photograph of the Russian dolls you sent him as a present and wondered if these were available to buy at all. I have never bought any Bowie memorability before but saw your Russian dolls and thought they were beautifully designed and crafted. I don’t know whether you do commissions but would be delighted to hear from you if you do and how much the dolls would cost if available.

    Hope to hear from you.

    Inga Fairweather

      1. Thank you Tanja I really liked the ones on your website of the album covers when I saw them rather than the ones I saw on facebook.

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