Expressive abstractions capture sensations of the Australian landscape throughout the Outback Studies series. As elsewhere in Arvilla’s oeuvre, the concept of ‘Terra habitatur’ challenges the colonial doctrine of ‘terra nullius’ – or ‘uninhabited land.’ Here, Arvilla’s landscape study Terra Habitatur was his first serious foray into encaustic painting. Arvilla forms a union between his subject and materials by using natural pigments and ochres from the land. Like his Studies for the work (below), Terra Habitatur offers a glimpse of the land – as if from a sideways glance – in a fleeting impression of the colours and forms of our ancient land.
Arvilla paints the imaginative world of the bush in Australian folklore through the final trio of works. Here we find, the adventures of masked outlaw Ned Kelly, feared dense and unending forests to be lost in, and the sensation of Overcoming found in a clearing, or through the evasion of a bush fire. In this way, Arvilla encapsulates ‘moments’ of the bush in the popular mindset since colonial times and points to an alternative way of thinking pre-colonisation.
Study I for Terra Habitatur
Study II for Terra Habitatur
Study III for Terra Habitatur