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PhD, 2007, Victoria University; MFA, Monash University, 2003; BFA (Hons), Monash University 2000; Fellow of the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts

Dr. Flossie Peitsch, a Creative Thesis PhD from Victoria University and MFA, BFA(HONS) from Monash University, Melbourne, is a much sought after conference keynote speaker, internationally exhibiting multimedia, performance art, and installation artist residing in Australia . A cross-disciplinary artist, community liaison, academic and art educator, Peitsch is a ‘visual art’ theologian with interests in social sculpture, generating creative communities through the arts and contemporary spirituality facilitating the self-realization of being.

Her outstanding commissions for public and community art found in Melbourne’s challenged western suburbs and now, the Illawarra of NSW are projects noted for their expansion of the definition of Fine Art – many largely having been fabricated through free public art workshops.

THE IMMORTAL NOW: Visualizing the Place Where Spirituality and Today’s Families Meet, the Fine Art PhD exegesis supported by five (5) galleries of Fine Art production is the research which led to the notion of SPLACE. The precipitating questions are ‘Where am I? Why am I here? Who am I?’ where one begins to construct meaning within the interior self. Not finding a satisfactory term to name this important site led Peitsch to construct a new term, contracting the words place and space to become – SPLACE.




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HABITAT: Not Black and White is an edgy new installation of art by local artist Flossie Peitsch. She is a PhD in Visual Art, holding a MFA, BFA(HONS) from Melbourne. Peitsch’s career – internationally exhibiting multimedia, performance, and interdisciplinary art – has interests in social sculpture, facilitating the self-realization of being. HABITAT – whose 44 footed legs relate to the nearby ‘1,000 stepped walk commemorating the Kokoda Trail’ explores the global environment as a major site of exchange. The anomalous perspective may be that view as seen by a ‘lower’ creature, a dog perhaps, who as most people, know does not see colour.   Peitsch has exhibited internationally in multimedia, performance, and in interdisciplinary art and has extensive academic history and qualifications. She has interests in social sculpture, recently facilitating the self-realization of being.


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Of MOVIEMODE Flossie writes…It was while taking pictures in Melbourne to supply Christina with interesting pics for MOVIEMODE that I realized how easy it is to see the colours and shapes of BELONGING everywhere in daily life! I am keenly interested in the fun effects of digital manipulation on the original photo. Imagine how many doors into art are opened with a simple click of the mouse! It is worth exploring…and there are no storage problems akin to making art in traditional ways. I am sold!


Of MOVIEMODE Christina writes…As I have developed my work as a composer I have greatly enjoyed learning to combine images with music in video form.  The PowerPoint video conversion effectively allows me to present the two together with control of the timings involved, adding what amounts to real-time program notes, as well as to be present in the work as a performer.

Expressions-of-Interest ordering MOVIEMODE as a DVD can be made here.


Of ARKMODE Flossie writes…These travel bags are the vehicles to be used to travel the river portrayed the in companion piece BELONGING. It is not likely possible to pack and carry all that things someone may want to transport into the next life. Not being seaworthy, certainly the thought of travel is better than the actual travel these containers would afford. Yet, the ark-idea of safe travel – despite the rough seas and trauma in life – seems a way ahead.


Of REEL Christina writes… Reel has meant different things to me at different times – it came to mind to accompany Flossie’s arks and in this context has a feeling of journey and travel connected with water, recalling my Irish forebears and the nomadism of my grandparents, who travelled widely in Australia and also spent some time in British Columbia, Canada.


Of RECOVER Flossie writes…The quilts made by my daughter Patience and myself developed in brilliant colours which aligned themselves easily with the Bundanon Residency. Though not made during that time period, they need to be part of the exhibition.  The quilts seem to Christina Green to be an added layer in the concept, linking with the exploration of the process of moving from a North American identity to ‘becoming Australian’ somehow.  The quilts relate to the title of Green’s uke piece – Line of Flight – its title a concept from the philosophy behind her PhD) – in fact, suggesting more than one connection.

Of LINE OF FLIGHT Christina writes… Line of Flight was composed mostly in the lead-up to my 2012 residency at Bundanon, and worked on further there.  The title comes from French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who uses the term to talk about moving out of the known and into the new and unknown.  In the piece I have explored the potential of the ukulele to open up a ‘line of flight’, a way to access new territory, and to get something musically new to happen – from my perception that the ukulele offers a different feel and spirit from the guitar, whose musical territory and sound have become very familiar to our ears.  Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro describes the ukulele as an ‘instrument of peace’, and this chimes with my own experience of playing the instrument and of being around others who also love it.  The peaceful environment at Bundanon, with the Shoalhaven River as a presence in the background, were supportive as I arrived, helping me to complete the work.


Neal Nuske writes…

Selected Music 2: Kanzeon!                        

Kanzeon is the Japanese equivalent for the Chinese goddess of compassion. Another significant religious identity, namely, the Carpenter from Nazareth, whose spirituality had its origins in the Hebrew world, frequently referred to ‘compassion’. The word he is attributed to have used, has a distinctly gutsy sound to it: Splagchnizomai. It is an anatomical term referring to our twisted human intestines and bowels -both are known to be uncontrollable and vocal. This removes the word from being defined, restricted and constricted by culturally limited moral and ethical codes, and sets it in the context of spontaneous human responses to all forms of suffering. It makes sense to me that Kanzeon cannot be Kanzeon unless it is born in the context of human complexity and suffering. One must also add to this the concept of environmental degradation and pain. It is significant, and most appropriate, that the acoustic world of Kanzeon is constructed upon sounds of complexity and dissonance. It is in the hearing of it that the true experience of compassion is adequately understood.

Of SPIRE Flossie writes…The tallest part of the traditional gothic church building is its ‘spire’. This dominating structure thrusts powerfully skyward, attempting to authoritively pierce God’s domain for the cause of humankind. I pair the strong verticals with a void panel. It signifies that man’s portentous attempts to reach God, are in fact to be pitied in the face of the immensity of ‘God’s’ terrain.

Of KANZEON! Christina writes… Kanzeon! was inspired by the bodhisattva of that name in the Zen tradition (Kuan Yin and other forms in other traditions), evoked by the upright quality of the original modular form of Flossie’s Spire.  The Zen Buddhist chant directed to Kanzeon, especially when combined with rhythmic slow walking in the context of group meditation, is a fantastic practice of devotion and a chance to cultivate the compassionate stance of this bodhisattva (a bodhisattva is a being in Buddhist traditions who chooses to delay her or his own attainment of nirvana in order to focus on assisting others to do this). 





Of NOTHING MORE THAN THIS Christina writes… Nothing More Than This references Buddha’s words to his disciple Shariputra, as captured in the Heart Sutra – ‘Oh Shariputra, form is only void, void is all form; there is, then, nothing more than this … ‘ (translation by Roshi Jiyu Kennett), and was conceived as a dance (suggested by the feeling-tone of the Kyrie piece by Flossie) celebrating the dance of all beings and their arising/passing away/arising, etc.   The somewhat lighter and more pointillistic quality of this piece evoked this idea of a great dance, in which all beings are radically equal – a dance in which each being offers its life utterance as a kind of prayer, but perhaps in a somewhat more celebratory way than the petitionary stance embodied in the Kyrie.  There may, indeed, be nothing more than this, but we are dealing with a very big this.

Of KYRIE Flossie writesSignifies the collected prayers of people approaching the divine – at any given time or place in history. Individuals have always gathered together for a high stretch towards the unknown and the almighty. Traditionally, the Kyrie is a musical setting for either the brief petition “Lord, have mercy,” as used in various offices of the Greek Orthodox Church and of the Roman Catholic Church or the brief response or petition in services in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, beginning with the words, “Lord, have mercy upon us.”


BELONGING: To Belong or Not to Belong

To Belong or Not to Belong

by Neal Nuske

Opener and Essayist for BELONGING, CTM, May 2016


To belong or not to belong – that is only one of the questions: When? With whom? Where? Under what circumstances? For how long?

Neal Nuske, Bachelor of Theology Luther Seminary Adelaide; Bachelor of Educational Studies and Master of Educational Studies (Research) The University of Queensland, St Lucia; Graduate Diploma Social Science (Counselling) QUT Carseldine, Brisbane; Associate of Music, Australia (Piano Performance).


In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh revealed his being on canvas in the form: Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky. In his later works, according to art critic Robert Hughes, he was yearning for ‘concision and grace’. According to Edwards, his life was ‘a quest for unification, a search for how to integrate the ideas of religion, art, literature, and nature that motivated him.’ He was a human being who frequently crossed the no-man’s-land between belonging and isolation, between fragmentation and disintegration, between alienation and intimacy, between confidence and apprehensiveness. While never resolving these paradoxes nor experiencing a peace which passes all human understanding, nevertheless, his sense of self wrought some momentary solidity of form when implanted on the canvas shrouded in the colours of the natural world. Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky was one of more than a dozen works around these themes. His prolific output is testimony to the intensity and creativity energising the search for belonging and peace. Van Gogh concluded: One does not expect to get from life what one has already learned it cannot give.

Life has a habit of presenting human beings with moments characterized by unexpected disruption, unwarranted disequilibrium and bewildering disturbance. My own sense of belonging in the world was radically challenged and disrupted by the onset of cancer at age 12 when a chondrosarcoma, otherwise known as a soft-tissue cancer, took up residence, or, found a place it called ‘home’ and exploited its sense of ‘belonging’ in my body. Consequently, surgery was necessary to dislodge this unwanted and unwelcomed ‘resident’ even though it was inspired and formed out of my own genetic material and successfully nourished by my very own biological resources.

However, all the checks-and-balances necessary for belonging to life itself were skewed in the direction of non-being or death. “Am I going to die?” is a question a twelve-year old child is not yet equipped to contemplate. The resulting surgical intervention in the form of a transpelvic-hemipelvectomy, while both life-taking and life-giving, left me with the challenge of whether or not I wished to continue belonging in a mutilated body with the prospect of making choices about how I would navigate and negotiate my way through life: in other words, belong in a familiar world from which I began to feel estranged, differentiated and alienated.

Although I did not know it at age 12, I had already discovered what the noted theologian Paul Tillich referred to as the “essential doctrine of freedom”, that is, that aspect of being human which enables us to make a choice and create an essential structure around our self, both body and mind, which is empowering to the degree it gives us the courage-to-be, the courage-to-belong in a different form. In my case, this meant a decision to continue living in an unfamiliar and radically different physical form.  Each person can choose a particular way to relate to the givens of existence. Such a choice begins the search for belonging.

Here Peitsch and Green, within their works, permit bits and pieces of their inner selves to find form in various mediums or themes. Their creations join Van Gogh’s wheat fields through installation, or symbols, or sounds, or shapes. As with Green, in the case of the composer, the self is initially inspired and then comes into being the moment the first notation is made; then it is played. When the final bar is completed, the self disappears and remains in silence, imprisoned behind bars and coded in notation. It requires another performer to cross the no-man’s-land between silence and sound.

The givens of my existence, the reality of cancer and its consequences, had thrust upon me the necessity to decide whether or not I wanted to belong to the world I previously inhabited, to live within what was left of my body and to decide how I would cope in the world outside of Ward 2D Brisbane General Hospital. In 1963 this was my Umwelt, or my sustaining and healing environment. My twelve-year old mind was struggling to interpret my shattered world. Not only that: I also had to consider how I would ‘fit’ within the world of my fellow human beings. How I could possibly live within the world of interpersonal relationships, my Mitwelt, a world to which I belonged but at the same time felt estranged? Finally, I wondered how I was going to learn to live within my ‘self’ which was experiencing a radical crisis in terms of a conflict between mind and body, my Eigenwelt. The dissonance between my mind and body was acute in the early stages of recovery, particularly when seeing myself as an amputee for the first time.

Like an artist – visual or composer – I had to consider how I would reveal my ‘self’ to the world. Would I do so imprisoned in an unwieldly prosthetic device, an artificial limb? This was an aesthetically pleasing solution made all the more attractive by the pressure once again to be seen to have two legs and walk like everyone else. Or, would I be true to my remaining self, that is, what was left of me at the end of the day when I removed my prosthesis? My parents gave me the freedom to choose. Without knowing it they affirmed Tillich’s “essential doctrine of freedom”. At its heart this means you fundamentally belong to your ‘self’ as you know your ‘self’ to be. Knowing who that self is, is a gift: even if it may be mutilated and constitute a life-long challenge.

The terminology I use to configure my experience, namely Umwelt, Mitwelt, Eigenwelt has its home in the school of Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy. Existential therapists understand people as a beings-in-the-world who construct their physical, personal, and relational worlds from their individual experiences and circumstances in the world. In particular, I have found the thought world of Rollo May, James Bugental and Irvin Yalom helpful in providing language in, with and under by which I can configure my experience of the world. It ‘fits’ my mind and makes sense in my philosophical disposition. I am unable to use ‘God-language’ as the narrative by which the fragments of life are woven together. When asked: “Do you trust God?” I immediately think: “To do what?”

The courage-to-be and to live in a form which is different from the ‘norm’ is a challenge for all those who find themselves marginalised; for example, as a result of physical illness, or mental health issues, or ethnic background, or gender orientation. This requires an act of courage-to-be, that is, the courage to accept oneself as accepted in spite of being unacceptable. Hence the crucifix becomes more important in the centre of my being than the concept “God”. In the Christian tradition, it is the existential form by which the divine chooses to belong to the world of fragmented humanity. The great temptation is to sanitize it, reduce its ugliness, and make it less appealing to those who know what suffering really is all about. If that happens, then those who suffer in all its myriad forms, no longer feel they belong. The biblical narratives inform us that the resurrected Christ is not perfect: The mortuary techniques of his day could not remove the nail holes and spear wound.

Neither have all artists over time sanitized the risen Christ. Creative interpretation allows a personal freedom to identify with the spiritual in us and the world. Art and music are possible choices through which we create structures for our self, or configure a window into our soul, thereby finding a form which is expressive of the self. We then place this into time and space for others to see or hear. In so doing artists and musicians construct their being-in-the-world and this choice requires a degree of courage. This bravery is apparent in this commended exhibition presenting both visual and musical creations which themselves, are inherently intertwined. It is a rare opportunity to full ones’ eyes and ears and enthusiasms.


Edwards, C (1989). Van Gogh and God: A Creative Spiritual Quest. Chicago: Loyola Press. p. 77.

Hughes, R (1990). Nothing If Not Critical. London: The Harvill Press, p. 144.

BELONGING: Essayist and Opening Speaker

Neal Nuske lives in Brisbane, monoped from the age of twelve following radical surgery due to cancer, Bachelor of Theology Luther Seminary Adelaide; Bachelor of Educational Studies and Master of Educational Studies (Research) The University of Queensland, St Lucia; Graduate Diploma Social Science (Counselling) QUT Carseldine, Brisbane; Associate of Music, Australia (Piano Performance). Nuske’s interest lies in musical texts, historical texts, artistic and religious texts – influenced by twenty-five (25) years teaching young adults the subject areas of Study of Religion and Theory of Knowledge. His perceptions and beliefs about reality are constantly challenged in the spirit of critical inquiry.


BELONGING: About Christina

Christina Green based in Melbourne, B. Mus. (Hons, musicology), M. Mus. (composition), Dip. Ed. (music), Dip. Music Therapy (Nordoff-Robbins), is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Sydney, Christina Green is a songwriter, composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist working in both the folk/acoustic and contemporary classical music contexts. Spanning styles from folk/rock to cabaret/chanson, her songs convey strong images / stories, observations and experiences with polished lyrics – often using her distinctive voice – and guitar, piano, or ukulele.  Green has written for string orchestra, percussion, organ, winds, piano, guitar, ukulele, various choral and small instrumental ensembles, and has had works performed by a range of ensembles and soloists in Australia, the UK and the US.  She is the primary performer of her solo piano music.         Mob 0430 455 564 


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