Brooke Leigh, Automatic Drawing #9, 2012, charcoal on paper, 56 x 76 cm

Automatic Landscapes

Publication type

Unpublished Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours Research Paper


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Literature, Art and Media, Sydney College of the Arts


The University of Sydney

Article link



Automatic Landscapes investigates how the Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist technique of ‘automatic drawing’ can be adapted and redeployed within the context of contemporary art. This research paper focuses on the idea of using the ‘unconscious’ as a source material for art making. In this paper, I briefly survey the Surrealist origins of this tradition and its grounding in the writings of Sigmund Freud before going on to consider a number of approaches taken by artists over the intervening period. I then examine how the heritage of the Surrealists ideas and these other artists have informed the work of a number of contemporary artists. In the conclusion, I reflect on how my own work relates to this tradition, old and new, and how some of the artists who are part of it have influenced the experimental approach I have taken in my work this year.

A note from the author

This article was published under my former name, Brooke Carlson.