An orientation to nature: the construction of wilderness in the work of John Watt Beattie
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 17:59 by Jarrod Ray Hore
At the turn of the twentieth century Australian nature had become increasingly bound up in the symbolism of a young nation. From the appropriation of native flora and fauna to the declaration of National Parks, the hostility that defined much of the early interactions between Europeans and Australian nature had softened. This thesis examines the reorientations to nature that preceded this moment by investigating a new vision of nature in Tasmania at the turn of the twentieth century. This vision was embodied in the sentimental depictions of remote wilderness that the photographer John Watt Beattie popularised between 1879 and 1930. The trends and values embodied in Beattie’s photography — those of Tasmanian history, the emergence of a sentimental attachment to local scenery and romanticism — communicated an orientation to nature based on sympathy, wonder and respect. By identifying how Beattie played upon the anxieties of his Tasmanian audiences, performed his role as a photographer-explorer and reproduced discourses of romanticism, this thesis explores the archaeology of an emergent environmental consciousness in turn of the century Tasmania.