Artist folio

Tanja Stark

Exhibitions and Collections
Lectures, Conferences and Artist Presentations
Creative Positions

Suburban Gothic and the Sublime Divine

Mixed media works on the creative/destructive manifestations
of the eternal and the ephemeral in ordinary life.

Exhibited Brisbane City Council Square Dec 2011 – Feb 12








Burn explores the physical and metaphorical nature of pain and scarring in images created by branding, burning and marking of surfaces with heat, fire or charcoal. Pared back to its essential elements the gentle simplicity of the images belies the inherently complex and uncomfortable content of the exhibition.

Comprised of works in sculpture, installation, photography, and drawing, the large series of work makes repeated veiled and explicit reference to the themes of destruction, abuse, consumption, sacrifice and redemption in the context of the body and the spirit.

First Exhibited Soapbox Gallery 2002, Sherwood Festival 2004





Sublime Vessels: works in progress.

There is something deeply elemental about clay. It is a primal substance, pulsating with ghosts of ancient makers, of hands that shaped forms and vessels, filled kilns and stoked furnaces. Of creations immersed in the fire and heat transmuting wet earth into permanence. A sacred alchemy.

I first began making these vessels in Cairns, and now after a long period in Brisbane, have returned to them once again. Raw, organic, sensual and strong, they have gestated across a time of intense personal change and transition and now these forms re-emerge, oozing with symbolism; containment, concealment, transformation, creation and birth.



Containment builds on the suburban gothic oeuvre, exploring the dichotomy between the external and internal worlds and the hidden parts of the human condition.

The installations in containment are constructed from raw paper bags, wire, feathers, bowls and paper and develop the iconography of previous work. Yet where burn explored the nature of pain and scarring through the tangible physicality of the mutilated surface these works push beyond, into the interior states of confinement, repression and restraint.

Exhibited Artworkers Alliance Gallery 2003







Tanja Stark reconfigures stove coils in ‘brand’ and offers them as cryptic symbols for the undercurrents in contemporary suburbia.

Tanja’s work in the suburban gothic genre explores complex issues in minimalist simplicity.

Born in Mackay, and living in Cairns, Rockhampton and Brisbane, she is intrigued by developing ideas of a contemporary “Australian Provincial ” ideology and aesthetic.









Images from Burn 2002




Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders is a work about spiritual journeys.

Comprised of a series of individual panels the pieces feature text commonly associated with protestant theology and pre-millennial eschatology.   Multi-syllable words fractured along phonetic breaks are presented, along with arrows and symbols as curious roadsigns for religious travellers.   Offsetting these pieces are several larger text panels devoid of directional symbols, existing merely to be read, to be contemplated, or merely to be.

It is difficult to integrate a lineal framework with the ambiguities and paradox of authentic spirituality in a post-modern world.   Yet directions can be seductive. The use of ‘roadsign’ imagery is common in contemporary art, most notably as a component in Australian Rosalie Gascoigne’s assemblages, Jeffery Smarts painting and Julian Opie’s animal series.   My appropriation of the road sign, with an overt spiritual brings another dimension to a simple and immediately accessible visual icon.

Exhibited SoapBox Gallery July 2003






Lectures, Conferences and Artist Presentations

“Creativity, Catharsis, Dreaming and Death” – Public Lecture, Queensland Jung Society July 2016

“Crashing Out with Sylvian – Strange Fascination ACMI Public Lecture Series”, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) 2015

“Madness and Creativity: Bowie and Jung” – Keynote Speaker for Melbourne Jung Society Annual Address 2015

“ Confronting Bowie’s Mysterious Corpses – the archetype of death in the artists oeuvre” : Deakin University Panel, Media Studies Conference Presentation, London University 2014

Artists Presentation “From the Ridiculous to the Sublime” BCC Library, 2012

“Archetypes in Popular Culture: Curators Talk” Strange Fascination Symposium, University of Limerick, Ireland 2012





Book Chapters

Stark, T., “Crashing Out with Sylvian: David Bowie, Carl Jung and the Unconscious” in Deveroux, E., M.Power and A. Dillane (eds) Critical Perspectives: Routledge Press Contemporary Music Series. 2015

Stark, T.,“Confronting Bowie’s Mysterious Corpses” in Enchanting David Bowie, Bloomsbury Press, 2015 (for Deakin University) – Art history & symbolism in pop culture.


“DVConnect Domestic and Family Violence Crisis Support Service -10 years on the frontline of crisis” Canasta Studio Publishing (Writing, Photography), 2012

Douglas, H., & Stark, T., Stories from Survivors: Domestic Violence and Criminal justice interventions, University of Queensland. T.C. Beirne School of Law, St Lucia, 2010. (Research, Writing, Illustration)

Stark, T., “ Domestic Violence and Companion Animal Harm – Preliminary Analysis of DVConnect Client Circumstances on Entry to Pets in Crisis Program Report ” DVConnect Trial Service Report 2005, cited in University of Central Queensland (Taylor, Signal and Stark, 2006) .

Journal Paper

Taylor, N., Signal, T., & T. Stark Domestic violence, child abuse and companion animal harm: Service provider perspectives, Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, 2006


Creative Positions

Director – Canasta Gallery and Studio: Art and Design, Exhibitions, Illustration, Photography, Writing; Creative therapy and Workshops, Curation, Company Branding,Social Media & Marketing.

Artist in Residence:  Brisbane City Council City Square December 2011 – February 2012

Curator and Artist / Illustrator Because You’re Young – Pop Culture Strange Fascination Symposium, University of Limerick, Ireland (Arts Queensland Career Development Grant 2012)

Writer in Residence: Gifted and Talented Intensive Creative Writing Workshop, Corinda Primary School (2004)

Art Workshop Facilitator and Gallery Guide Local Artist Program,  Cairns Regional Art Gallery: Kindergarten to University (1997 – 2000)

Youth Arts Worker Kenmore High School/ YAP Weekly creative art workshops (June- Nov 1993)




Media and Creative Reviews

 Tanja Stark is an artist and deep thinker who lectured on Bowie during the Australian leg of David Bowie Is… the travelling VA exhibit….Tanja Stark’s remarkable essay is must reading …for all artists and dreamers!”

Ann Magnuson,  Avant garde artist and former Manager New Yorks Studio 57  which will features in MoMA’s  forthcoming exhibition in fall 2017.


Here’s an interview I did with Brian Eno a couple of years back, on how the arts and religion help us surrender and go beyond the ego. And here’s one I did with David Byrne on how the arts help us achieve a post-religious ecstasy and catharsis. And finally, here’s a great essay by Tanja Stark on the influence of Jungian psychology on Bowie’s work.Tanja’s work on depth psychology and creative expression in contemporary arts is very well researched, original and insightful and a level above most rock academic criticism. I found it a useful resource in my own research into ecstatic experiences and rock and roll. I am interested in how her future work develops and support her application for grants, scholarships and opportunities for further study.” 

Jules Evans author Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations.  Policy Director at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.

Discussion of the esoteric aspects of Bowie’s life and work can be found readily online, with speculation unsurprisingly booming after Bowie’s recent passing. Much of this material is tainted with tosh…However, there are several writers who have produced well-developed analyses of Bowie’s esoteric dimensions that are available online. Mark Dery is an American cultural theorist [who] contemplates the star’s appeal in relation to the Messianic mysticism of Christianity, while Australian artist Tanja Stark has written extensively on Jungian interpretations of Bowie’s work (‘Jung the foreman’ being a lyric in Drive-In Saturday from 1973’s Aladdin Sane). “

Dr Dean Ballinger,
University of Waikato
Department of Screen and Media Studies via Brian Eno’s Website.


I have been teaching at Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Czech Republic, (including the Faculty of Fine Art), for the past two decades.  On discovering artist Tanja Stark’s work we subsequently included this as part of the recommended reading list ( ) for JAMU/Scenography students.  Her work provides a fascinating and creative way for students to gain insight into the enduring relationship between ancient archetypal mythology (scenography, scenery, setting) and visionary art, modern pop iconography and new myths in the contemporary arts.   I would be happy to recommend she be considered for any scholarships, academic opportunities or positions that may arise. 

Martin M. Mrskos                                                                                                                                        Lecturer Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts
Czech Republic


“The following three chapters look into the star’s ‘self’ from a predominantly psychoanalytical point of view, examining his hyperreal performances (see Bethany Usher and Stephanie Fremaux’s text), his numinous archetypes and conformance to C.G. Jung’s concept of the ‘Visionary Artist’ (see Tanja Stark’s chapter), and his personae as forms of self-defense in a Freudian sense (see Ana Leorne’s essay). While such approaches are usually unsatisfyingly suggestive, they are not as farfetched in this case, as David Bowie himself has expressed his fondness for psychoanalytical theory, and for Jung’s elaborations on the unconscious and ancient symbolism in particular.”

Eileen Rositzka
Frames Cinema Journal





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