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 professional experience in therapeutic counselling and research, and published academic pieces on creativity, mental health, violence, trauma and jungian themes.
For exhibitions, artist talks and workshops, open studio days, research collaborations, residencies or commissions please contact Tanja here or via the links at the end of this page.
For more about Suburban Gothic and the Sublime Divine please read on.
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.
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 me (and 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.
Support Tanja’s creative vision here:
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly
Contact Tanja Stark
Phone: (Australia) : 0414 658 235