Ways of making: producing artworks in the studio in response to experiential walking
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This thesis includes a body of paintings, drawings and assembled objects that have been made in response to the Crossing England walks (2014 - 2018). This body of work is entitled The English Diagrams (2018).
The research draws upon the varied perspectives of Fine Art, Performance Studies and Cultural Geographies, to examine the relationship between the activities of walking as art, and making in the studio. Drawing from experiential phenomenology, I set out a model for rigorous, reflexive, creative practice and map the looping affiliations between the embodied world of the walked landscape, the subjective terrain of the practitioner, and the fabrication of paintings, drawings and assemblage within the studio. This interdisciplinary study takes a neo-vitalist approach, tracking a series of walks on a single route across England. Artist and terrain are explored as integrated, the boundaries between them fluid or porous,
Autobiographical story, personal mythology, and sediments of collective memory interred within the earth are drawn out by the sensory, somatic rhythms of walking, and through selection of specific materials found along the way. Through studying bodily, psychical and material fluxes and flows within the studio, the thesis considers optimal conditions for flow in practice, and scrutinizes interrelations between the space of the studio and the body/mind of the practitioner, during the production of drawings, paintings and assemblage. It explores how the fields, gaps, lines and folds of the landscape can be translated into a bricolage of visual and painterly languages that is as heterogeneous as the terrain it refers to.
The research shows how a sustained and looping threefold process of walking, reflective writing and making can lead not just to new ways of fabricating, but of surveying and plotting human experience. This renewed, unified sensibility, is subsequently conveyed back outside to the landscape during new walks, offering altered perceptions and new readings of the landscape. This is a study with potential to be of interest for creative practitioners from a variety of disciplines, and to theorists and scholars of artistic process.
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