I grew up on 30 acres near Cygnet and have spent most of my adulthood in and around Hobart. Growing up in the bush and living close to it, bushwalking, and my love of travel, means I have a reverence for nature and being in it is integral to who I am.
As a multimodal artist (including ceramics, dance, visual arts), my photography became my primary art practice during my Masters in creative arts therapy (at MIECAT), where I used it to reflect on my solastagia and affection for Tasmania.
I had a compulsion to photograph the beauty in small things (flowers, plants) and in the night sky initially, but then I challenged myself to extend into landscape and portrait photography as well.
I hold a deep appreciation of beauty and a reverence to country, in the sense that I am often awed, enlivened, energised in nature… my spirituality (undefined and non-religious, but certainly a sense of the divine) is interconnected with or stems from being immersed and surrounded by nature, and thus my photography/art practice intertwines with this.
In place, and in certain conditions, such as clear night skies, aurora and sunrise, I experience a myriad of emotions across a range from ecstasy to melancholy. The thrill I get from capturing what is before me on camera contributes to my state.
I experience a heightened awareness of our insignificance as humans in the universe but also of our irreversible devastating and cumulative impact on earth, which has me feeling enraged and grief-stricken.
My passion for the wilderness and natural ecosystems fires my calling to help protect it, to be an activist.
If my images help in any way to increase consciousness, encourage action and stoke people’s emotions in relation to protecting the environment, then I’m happy because that is what I’m here to achieve.
If my pictures bring people joy, a sense of beauty, a connectedness with nature or a keenness to get out in the bush more, then that’s wonderful too!
I treasure hearing how people feel in response to my photos, what they like about them and stories they relay to me about their experiences. Hearing from a broad audience is one of the reasons I enjoy exhibiting so much.
I am also passionate about vocalising the need for women to be represented equally with men in photography circles and in the broader community. I am keen to have my voice heard and my art seen, yet doing this has required that I build a lot of confidence, self-belief and more resilience.
Having said that, although I want to be acknowledged as a female photographer, what I create/achieve (as in any industry) should be critiqued for what it is, not in reference to what sex I am!
I get really excited seeing upcoming female photographers grow as artists, and I love connecting with them, particularly young people. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career if it wasn’t for my incredibly generous mentors and the encouragement and support of friends and family. Taking the courage to talk to established photographers, to share my photos and to dream big completely changed my life.
When I started out, I didn’t do long trips on my own in remote wilderness because there are many incredible photographers doing that already. The desire to do this has grown over time though.
Being in wild places makes me feel alive, I can’t express just how much I love it… so I’m determined to do some more remote wilderness trips. Camera gear is very heavy and personal safety is important me, plus I’m cautious by nature, so I tend to prefer to hike with company and I always carry an epirb. For me, doing artist residencies in wild places has helped to achieve a sense of solitary adventure without too much risk.
There are many, many photos I am yet to take and things I want to experiment with. I like to identify as a conservation photographer these days and so my primary aims are to continue my climate change awareness work and my work to help make takayna/the Tarkine a National Park.
Photography of Arwen by Grace Sussmilch and landscapes by Arwen Dyer
This project was assisted by Bellendena Small Grants and Hobart City Council