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Terra Incognita

An animated interactive work that charts the fiction of Tasmanian writer Carmel Bird. Launched, Gallery 101 Melbourne

"Pandora and Violetta", in Terra Incognita

Tour through Terra Incognita

Broadly speaking much of my fiction examines, at a certain level, the feeling and development of female powerlessness. Consequently the red shoe appears from time to time as a familiar emblem. Two works of Hans Christian Anderson that turn on irony and tragedy of the powerless female are The Little Mermaid and The Red Shoes. These are two stories that have interested me greatly since I was a child, and they have surfaced in particular in The White Garden and Red Shoes.

These novels are part of a trilogy yet to be completed in The Mandala Trilogy in which a principal concern is the examination of how certain types of power operate. The image of the mandala builds a rich ground in which to locate the narratives, and the language of alchemy lends itself to the expression of the deeper themes.

Lisa has adopted the maze for her exploration of creativity in Terra Incognita, and this seems to me to be the most apt shape with which to embrace the development of my fiction.

Carmel Bird
Terra Incognita exhibition catalogue, 1995
ISBN 0 9585963 0 1

1992 Carmel Bird Sewing the machine from Tasmania Oil on canvas, private collection, Melbourne


During 1996-98 I made a series of landscapes, life drawings, still lifes and symbolic images while living in Launceston, Tasmania, where Carmel Bird was born and grew up. To what extent these images are my own response to the environment, or filtered through the word pictures in Carmel's stories I can't say. But I worked with a very strong sense that here were the beginnings of her vision of fact and fiction that is her world. At the same time I was working to chart this part of the world for myself.

These images form the basis for an interactive "map" of the creative process I perceived at work in Carmel's writing. They were combined with some art work made long bfore the move to Tasmania, imagery and animations made directly on computer, and Carmel's reading from Cherry Ripe, The White Garden and Automatic Teller.

Lisa Roberts,
Terra Incognita exhibition catalogue, 1995
ISBN 0 9585963 0 1

1995 Lisa Roberts at the launch of Beware of Pedestrians, Snakepit gallery, Launceston, Tasmania


Download Essay on Terra Incognita by Sean Payne


An interactive CDROM and a collection of drawings, paintings and assemblages were made as part of an inquiry into the creative process of Tasmanian writer Carmel Bird.

This work formed the major part of a research project for a Masters of Art undertaken at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's Animation and Interactive Media Centre (2000). An installation of the completed body of work was launched at Gallery 101, Melbourne, with a live reading by Carmel Bird.


See also

Terra IncognitaProject notes
Terra Incognita Art
Terra Incognita Notesand
Flying with My Sister (in progress)