| Leonardo/ISAST

Louise Fowler-Smith

As an eco-artist Louise aims to promote new, experimental ways of perceiving the land in the 21st century. She believes that how we perceive and contemplate the land effects how we respond to the land. Her work investigates Anthropocene extinction,environmental justice and climate adaptation and rests at the intersection between the aesthetic approach to art and the ethical. 

For the past 20 years her practice-led research has focused on the veneration of trees, a subject she was drawn to for the magnitude of their environmental significance and their universal, pan-religious symbolic importance. She has researched the significance of ‘the Tree’ historically, culturally, symbolically, politically, scientifically and how perceptual shifts through imaging and disseminating the images can activate change and contribute to creating new insights into environmental issues. 

After traveling across the majority of India over a 10-year period she has published articles on the practice of decorating the Tree as an act of veneration or worship, and how this practice protects trees from loggers. Louise has now written a book that illustrates and explains this practice. Titled Adorned and Adored: India’s Sacred Trees should be published soon. 

Louise has also published articles on interdisciplinary teaching led by the Arts, such as her book chapter, Can Interdisciplinary Teaching Led by the Arts Contribute to the Debate on Contemporary Environmental Issues? in ‘Building Sustainability with the Arts’. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, England. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9133-9. ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9133-2.

Along with her written publications Louise is a visual artist. Her creative process is similar to that of a painter, whereby she layers or glazes light onto specially chosen trees, concentrating on their individual qualities or personality. Alone and in the quite of the night in a variety of landscapes she ‘burns’ the light onto medium format film through long exposures, sometimes for nearly an hour. Her artistic work to date has focused on Trees in Australia, India, Japan, Italy and France, as can be seen on her website.

In 2108 Louise held a solo exhibition with the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in France. Titled Portraits d’Arbres Remarquables Illuminés, the exhibition honours some of the Remarkable Trees of France, and includes nocturnal images taken in the Jardin des Plantes and the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris along with the Parc du Petit Trianon and the  Arboretum de Versailles-Chèvreloup in Versailles.  

Louise also founded The Tree Veneration Society -  https://treevenerationsociety.com

Honorary Academic
UNSW Art & Design
Forest Lodge, Australia
Focus area: Analogue, Digital, Art History, Theory, Philosophy, Cultural Practices, Social Practice, Environmental Art, Eco Art, Land Art, Public Art, Placemaking, Site Specific, Culture, Sociology