Ritual & Nature: The Art of Tamara Dean

Words by
Tamara Dean
Images by
Tamara Dean
| September 8, 2015

Tamara Dean is a Sydney based artist whose photographic, installation and participatory work explores the relationship between humans and the natural world and the role of ritual in our lives. We’re big fans of Tamara’s work, and are very excited to be sharing an interview with this very talented woman later in the month. To precede our chat, we asked her to share some of images of her work, and tell us a little more about her practice. This is what she said:

My current practice extends across photography, installation and participatory works exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world and the role of ritual in our lives. Natural cycles within time and space, life and death, nature and spirituality contribute to my way of investigating and engaging with the world around me.

My work explores a number of ideas examining the relationship between humans and nature and ways we engage with the natural world in contemporary life.

The Pre-Raphaelite painters are a clear influence in my photographic works. My aim is to draw upon an aesthetic of the romantic, naturalistic world, but referencing our contemporary lives and current issues. The setting in nature is designed to revert to a universal sense of humanity, reflecting our inherent animalism, acknowledging that we are a part of nature.

My series ‘The Edge’, 2013, explored the informal rites of passage and rituals which young people create for themselves in nature. The primal urge to create rites of passage in a culture where there are very few formal transitionary markers. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one’s sense of self. Confronting fears, seeking a spiritual, transitional experience.

My work is reliant upon my subjects experiencing and engaging with their environment and emotions. The action of ‘going to’ and experiencing the location and subsequent ritual is as important as the photographic representation at the end. As put so succinctly by Ralph Waldo Emerson in “The Poet”,1884 Art is the path of the creator to his work.”

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'Ebenezer Rock Drop'
The Edge, 2013
© Tamara Dean

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'Ebenezer Rock Drop' The Edge, 2013 © Tamara Dean 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'The Pack, This too Shall Pass' series
 © Tamara Dean 2010
86 x 150cm
Pure pigment print on cotton rag 

Courtesy, the artist and 'Olsen Irwin Gallery'
'The Pack, This too Shall Pass' series © Tamara Dean 2010 86 x 150cm Pure pigment print on cotton rag Courtesy, the artist and 'Olsen Irwin Gallery'
The Keeper, This too Shall Pass, 2010 © Tamara Dean
The Keeper, This too Shall Pass, 2010 © Tamara Dean
The Edge, 2013
© Tamara Dean

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
The Edge, 2013 © Tamara Dean 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'The Creek'
The Edge, 2013
© Tamara Dean

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'The Creek' The Edge, 2013 © Tamara Dean 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
The Bride, Ritualism, 2009 © Tamara Dean
The Bride, Ritualism, 2009 © Tamara Dean
'Finding Light'
The Edge
© Tamara Dean, 2013

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'Finding Light' The Edge © Tamara Dean, 2013 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'Claire'
The Edge
© Tamara Dean, 2013

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'Claire' The Edge © Tamara Dean, 2013 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
Only Human Series
2011, Australia
 © Tamara Dean
Represented by Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney
Set within the Australian landscape, my recent series 'Only Human' depicts our fragility and vulnerability as humans, the notion that we are 'only human' whilst also acknowledging our intrinsic connection to the natural world.
Only Human Series 2011, Australia © Tamara Dean Represented by Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney Set within the Australian landscape, my recent series 'Only Human' depicts our fragility and vulnerability as humans, the notion that we are 'only human' whilst also acknowledging our intrinsic connection to the natural world.
'By feel'
The Edge
© Tamara Dean, 2013

'The Edge'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.
'By feel' The Edge © Tamara Dean, 2013 'The Edge' is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. The initiations, the pushing of physical, spiritual and emotional limits in order to discover one's sense of self.

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