Artist Valerie Sparks’ digitally-assembled landscape El Dorado Springs is a fantastical landscape that brings together disparate locations and perspectives, times of day and seasons. Sparks draws inspiration from late 18th and early 19th century European depictions of landscape, notably a popular 1849 French-produced scenic wallpaper called El Dorado, which depicted a lush picturesque scene that blended architectural features and scenes from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
With El Dorado Springs, Sparks has created a surreal garden setting combining images from multicultural Melbourne’s contemporary urban landscape, in which the buildings themselves tell a story of waves of Australian migration and urban settlement. Thus she envisions a Russian Orthodox church sharing space with Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples, a Catholic cathedral and Islamic mosque, all set against a mountain backdrop (actually on the Iran-Iraq border).
‘There are multiple moments present and multiple points of perspective,’ Sparks explains. ‘The authority of the representation of landscape and place is disrupted.’