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From Hell-Fire to Epiphany: Dore Stockhausen

Author: Jo Moulton

Stockhausen looks deep into 'the eye of the Apocalyptic fire-storm' to re-capture Nature's beauty and to reclaim her soul.

'Hell Fire 14' 16x 16 cms acrylic on canvas aluminum composite 2020

It was a bolt of lightning on the 21st November 2019 that triggered an ominous sense of foreboding in one of Gippsland’s leading artists, Dore Stockhausen. No rain followed and some days later the north winds fueled the fires that ignited East Gippsland’s apocalyptic summer of 2020.

To mark the first anniversary of that fateful day, artist Dore Stockhausen will open the doors of her ‘oneofftwo’ studio gallery at Nungurner. She will exhibit her series of paintings entitled “The Edge of My Vision”, some 15+ monumental paintings that document the fires and the miraculous regeneration that has followed through Spring and early Summer.

The Edge of My Vision - Fire 'sunset peak I' acrylic on canvas on composite panel 2020

The Edge of My Vision - Fire 'sunset peak III' acrylic on canvas on composite panel 2020

The lives and livelihoods of Dore, and her partner, contemporary Jeweler, Marcus Foley, will never be the quite the same again. From their studio gallery they witnessed walls of fires, suffocating smoke and two evacuation experiences, enough to break Stockhausen’s strong Germanic work ethic.

“We were paralyzed by the fires, stifled by the suffocating smoke,” she recalls.

By the end of February, Dore had transformed from a state of existential crisis to confront the fire experience and its impact on the community, the forests, flora and fauna of East Gippsland. She looked deep into the eye of the firestorm, not just as a visceral threat, but “to find the beauty of the Nature” that has always been the source of her inspiration and her art since settling in East Gippsland. The fires prompted her to look inward - deep into herself as an artist, to examine what drives her unrelenting creativity.

'The Next Page' acrylic on canvas on aluminum composite panel 2020

The Edge of My Vision - Fire 'Verdant I' acrylic on canvas on aluminum composite panel 55cm W x 100cm H 2020

On the one hand it was the fire itself in all its raging terror that re-ignited her artistic drive. How to paint heat? How to paint the crackling and roaring sound of fire and its speed? How to capture the intensity of fires?

On the other hand, she delved deep into her religious ancestral lineage, European Protestant pastors dating back to the 17th century, to find her spirituality. The spirituality of her childhood, once found in books, now, she discovered, supplanted by Nature, in particular the abundance and uniqueness of East Gippsland’s spectacular environment.

After repeated trips to coastal Cape Conran and mountainous Buchan, both severely affected by the fires, she observed the charred destruction and then the inspirational, fresh spring re-growth. She began what she describes as a “spiritual epiphany”, a new page in the evolution of East Gippsland’s environmental beauty and a new milestone in her development as an artist.

What emerges from her period of intense work is a series of powerful paintings that form a truly significant documentation of the 2020 fires.

'The Next Page II' (panel b) acrylic on canvas on aluminum composite panel 55 cm W x 55 cm H 2020

'The Next Page III' (panel b) acrylic on canvas on aluminum composite panel 55 cm W x 55 cm H 2020

Stockhausen has brought together her emotional responses through a vivid use of color and her intellectual response through a layering of geometric abstract forms that she describes as “expanding her thoughts.”

She has embraced a new freedom in her work that enables her to capture random and accidental expression. “I like to have small doses of these (abstract forms) in my paintings to challenge myself and let go of my previous thought structures”.

Trailblazers acrylic on canvas on aluminium composite panel 87cm W x 57cm H, 2020.

After rigorous training as a goldsmith at the prestigious Hamburg National Drawing Academy, Germany, post-graduate studies in sculpture at Monash University and a stretch of lecturing in gold and silver-smithing at the Canberra School of Art, Stockhausen, brings a wealth of technical and analytical skills, enhanced powers of observation and the strong discipline to her work.

Pioneers acrylic on canvas on aluminium composite panel 110cm W X 122 H 2020

This exhibition bears witness to a force of Nature that has wreaked havoc on the lives of many East Gippslanders. Stockhausen has excelled in her role as an artist bringing meaning, hope and beauty back to life though this extraordinary body of work. Her exhibition will thrill those who take the opportunity to view it between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm Saturday and Sunday until the 20th December.

Jo Moulton (JOMO) Thursday19th November 2020.


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