Bethany Van Rijswijk
My work asks the viewer to look closely, to acknowledge the festival of relationships that surrounds us, and to reconsider our supremacy within it.
I am a collage artist and writer based in nipaluna/Hobart. Following my studies in ancient history, mythology and folklore, my artistic practice developed from a desire to make visible these enchanted worlds of myth and ritual.
Offering up other worlds created from the remnants of our own, my hand-cut collages seek to challenge some of the ‘oppressive phantasms’ of our time through fantasy and folklore. Increasingly concerned with the ‘re-enchantment’ of the industrial world, I often return to the themes of botanical folklore, magic, the invisible, thresholds, seasonal rites, and pre-industrial time.
Although my work often engages with the mythical and fantastical, it also finds its origins in my relationship with the land on which I was raised and still reside. Through the medium of collage, familiar notions of scale and import may be disrupted. Flowers and toadstools can tower over humans, children can gather pollen from the undersides of bees, and dew-soaked leaves can be parted to reveal other worlds. My work asks the viewer to look closely, to acknowledge the festival of relationships that surrounds us, and to reconsider our supremacy within it.
Over the past few years, my visual art has been exhibited nationally and overseas, including my first solo exhibition, Shapeshifter, presented by Private Projects, and group shows in Aotearoa, the United Kingdom, and Spain. I have also been granted residencies in Cradle Mountain National Park, Aotearoa, and Sweden.
In addition to my visual art practice, my poetry and prose have been published in journals in the United Kingdom and United States and self-published in a number of limited-edition zines. In 2020, I was one of the recipients of Contemporary Art Tasmania’s COBRA Program, which funded the presentation of an artist’s book exploring the history and folklore of poisonous plants entitled The Invisible Harvest: A Microhistory of Heretical Herbs.