Archive of Author | Louise Fowler Smith

Senior Lecturer
Director, Imaging the Land International Research Initiative (ILIRI)

UNSW | Art & Design


As Director of the Imaging the Land International Research Initiative (ILIRI), Louise Fowler-Smith is interested in promoting new ways of perceiving the land in the 21st century. She believes that how we perceive and contemplate the land affects how we treat the land, and ultimately how we live on the land.

Louise’s multi disciplinary practice includes collaboration with Engineers and Architects. One such collaboration with final year engineering students has produced a feasibility study and businesses plan for a sustainable “water tank” house, built from water tanks and recycled materials. Louise is working on plans to build this as a Museum dedicated to Environmental Art and Sustainability in Broken Hill, NSW. At the UNSW Fowlers Gap Research Station, north of Broken Hill she has established the ILIRI ‘Creative Laboratory’ – a large area of land (approximately 1000 acres) that has been selected for exclusive use by artists and cross-disciplinary teams to explore their relationship with the environment and experiment with sustainable projects.

Louise also works as a photographic artist, with her most recent work focusing on the veneration of trees, a subject she was drawn to not only for the magnitude of its environmental significance, but its universal and pan-religious symbolic importance. Louise’s investigation and resultant work has spanned two continents, Australia and India. After traveling across the majority of India over the past 9 years, Louise is now compiling a book that illustrates and explains the practice of decorating the Tree as an act of veneration or worship, a subject she was attracted to not only for its enchanting beauty, but its ability to protect trees from loggers. Her article “Hindu Tree Veneration as a Mode of Environmental Encounter” was published in the February 2009 issue of Leonardo – The Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology – Volume 42, Number 1.

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Philosopher and the Beamer-Schneider Professor of Ethics at a University in Cleveland in the USA describes Ms Fowler-Smith’s work as follows:

What is interesting about Louise Fowler-Smith’s work is how it is poised between the aesthetic approach to art and the ethical.  Her photographs of ephemerally transfigured trees are signs pointing to communal practices we – in the world of global art flows – have not yet developed.  Equally, they are memorials for what we have lost -an ethos.

Louise has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and has presented papers at numerous conferences, including the 2009 Land/Art Conference in New Mexico and the 2010 International Association for Environmental Philosophy Conference “Geo-Aesthetics in the Anthropocene”, both in the USA, as well as in France, Italy and the Netherlands.


Articles with Louise Fowler Smith

The Reenchantment of the Tree

The Reenchantment of the the Tree concentrates on images of trees found predominantly in the arid zone of far western NSW. Louise Fowler Smith layers or glazes light onto specially chosen trees, that may otherwise have been disregarded and ignored; concentrating on its individual qualities or personality. This process draws out the tree, making it special, individualistic, even sacred.