Snakes and Ladders: A Fertile Framework for the Future


I focus on a pivotal aspect of my studio-based investigation of duality, and the good/evil binary. In an illustrated presentation, referencing both my own work and other cultural and historical precedents, I explore how the game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, set in the altered Garden of Eden, is increasingly coming to function not only as pictorial and metaphoric device but also as visual and philosophical structure.

After briefly outlining the game’s history from its Hindu origins as a game of morality, played by children to teach them the rights and wrongs of life, to its emphatic adoption by the British Rajah into Victorian England and its many colonies including Australia, I examine other ‘snakes and ladders’ images, found in art, popular cartoons and advertising. This includes an image by Adelaide printmaker, Barbara Hanrahan, in 1978, which I explain differs significantly from other usages in both content and form. I then elaborate issues of collage, framing and grids, which structure my own work.

I hope this paper sheds light on the symbiotic process of correlations and cross-fertilisations peculiar to creative-based research.

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Anne Bennett, whose career spans more than 20 years, has curated six exhibitions, taught at NMIT, University of Tasmania, Chisholm Institute, CAE and guest lectured at Monash University (Peninsular and Gippsland campuses). She has exhibited nationally and internationally; holding six solo exhibitions including at: Pinocotheca and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Plimsoll Galleries, Hobart, and participated in over thirty group exhibitions at regional galleries throughout Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, and universities in Korea and China. She holds a BA from RMIT, MFA from the University of Tasmania and is currently undertaking PhD research at Monash University in the Faculty of Art & Design.