Last Saturday I presented artwork for my Masters at MIECAT (Melbourne Institute for Experiential & Creative Arts Therapy). This artwork was my telling “of what I had come to know” during the first year of the Masters program. The presentation went for 20 minutes and was witnessed by peers, facilitators and friends.
The artwork presented was generated from immersing myself in a studio arts based inquiry for a month. I adapted the procedures learnt at MIECAT as a research tool in order to explore my experiences of the year and also generate new data.
This year I have made many dolls which represent the different aspects of myself which I am coming to know. These parts of myself inform my professional practice as a Creative Arts Facilitator/Practitioner and now a Creative Arts Therapist.
Supporting my presentation is an exegesis which I have just submitted. The more commonly used form of exegesis is a contextualising and critical examination of a creative product in the light of contemporary theory and practice (MIECAT, 2012).
The following parts of highlighted text are part of my exegesis.
“I entered my studio, a little corner located underneath our house, with the intention of creating a self-portrait integrating all the separate parts of myself. I knew that I had to be open and trust the art making process – bracketing out my inner critic who is always present when making and facilitating art. In discussing the use of artistic expressions primary modes of inquiry McNiff (2011) strongly advises:
the bracketing of ideas and theories when the artistic experimentation begins. This process can be likened to an artist who examines a phenomenon closely, explores how others have treated it, makes preliminary sketches but then places all of this aside in order to engage the subject in a direct and fresh way, albeit making use of all the aforesaid preparatory steps, personal knowledge, skills of expression and memories to both instinctively inform experimentation and reflect afterwards on the experiences (p. 391).
I decided to use printmaking in this inquiry – being the medium I explore in my own art practice. I also wanted to provide myself the opportunity to explore and utilise this medium as I have allowed myself few possibilities to do so lately. Printmaking has many parallel qualities to arts based inquiry as it is emergent. You never know what to expect as the end result is unknown.
Ghalamzan (2003) says, that by its nature “printmaking is unpredictable and therefore not conductive to the creation of preconceived images” (p. 41). Despite the technical skill base inherent with this process there lingers a strong element of the unknown – from generating an image to its final print.
In printmaking actions do not have immediate effects, surfaces are built in layers. Printmakers become very sensitive to and appreciate all the mysteries of their materials. The print is created through the interaction of surfaces, plate against paper. And the print comes into existence in a secret action hidden from our eyes (Van Laar, 1980, p. 99).
The printmaking plates were created by etching into polycarbonate sheeting using a “Dremel” hand rotary tool. They were printed at Baldessin Press in St Andrews, Victoria. A big thanks to Tess Edwards and Lloyd Goodman at Baldessin Press for their support and for the yummy lunches.
Also many thanks to my Mum for always encouraging me to be creative and providing me with many opportunities to play throughout my life; to my partner Michael for helping me with preparing my paper, helping me to install my artwork and putting up with me being a frazzled student and eccentric creative being; to my mother-in-law Lou for long walks to debrief and discuss my research; and to all my friends who have encouraged and supported me this year – especially my mutual care buddies Sam and Mardi (for cups of tea and helping to anchor me in my practice) and to Erica and Maureen, my collaborative partners who have helped me to reflect upon and experience nature in a whole new way. And also to you, my readers for giving me a reason to write and share my stories!
Setting up the space
Presentation begins: Reading out a quote
Co-participants pillow, 2012, Calico, velvet, gouache, alpaca wool & thread
Laying out my dolls
Left to right: The Earth Mother, The Child, My Anchor, The Teenager, Strong Warrior Woman
Calico, acrylic, felt, tule, thread & stuffing (variable sizes)
“These parts of me that I carry within me”
Film Projected onto paper
Highlights from the film:
Revealing the print:
My Becoming, 2012, Drypoint etching on 300gsm BFK Reeves, 160 x 240 cm
Strong, compassionate, passionate, empathetic woman emerging…
She carries parts of herself equally.
She bears scars although is no longer burdened by them – they remind her that she is human.
She has strong wings stretching out, ready to take flight.
She holds the space for others and for herself.
Her skirt stretches out like an upside down flower tattooed with images from nature that help her feel grounded.
Intertwined in her garden are the dolls she has made with loved ones.
She is companion to others and companion to herself.
Ghalamzan, M. (2003). A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding Printmaking Processes and Their Applications to Art Education (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/2343/1/MQ83931.pdf
McNiff, S. (2011). Artistic expressions as primary modes of inquiry. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 39 (5), 385-396. DOI: 10.1080/03069885.2011.621526
Van Laar, T. (1980). Printmaking: Edition as artworks. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 14 (4), 97-102. DOI: 10.2307/33323723737536.2129