An assessment of the importance of the qualities of the feminine principle in two-dimensional image-making: a journey through visual language
Prof B Bates (external supervisor)
To produce a body of artwork supported by an appropriate amount of written material which together explore and embody the contemporary potential of creativity rooted in the feminine principle.
To test this principle in the light of appropriate literature on the subject, through my own visual work and through a related body of workshop work with other people.
The PhD focuses on the special qualities of the feminine principle, and explores the practical application of these through two-dimensional image-making. The research makes bridges between ideas and working methods that originated in the context of transpersonal psychology and the world of fine art, in order to create an integrated body of theory and practice that takes forward the work of the early pioneers of the spiritual in twentieth century art, in a fresh and contemporary way. The whole project takes the form of a journey that is at the same time a literal journey, a creative journey, a reflective intellectual journey and a metaphysical journey.
The research is by project and consists of a body of visual work – drawing, painting, photography; a written thesis that provides the critical context for the research, and describes and criticises there search process as it unfolds; a body of workshop work with other people that tests my ideas.
The contribution to knowledge is the way in which ideas and working methods that originated in transpersonal psychology can be applied in the fine art context, and the whole body of visual work that unfolds as a result of these explorations. As research by project in fine art is still a new area, an important part of the written thesis will be concerned with research methodology. This makes reference to work as a participant observer, experiential research and new developments in consciousness research. My work will also make a contribution to transpersonal research.
The PhD differentiates clearly between feminism and the feminine principle. The whole project is embodied in a series of fifteen big sketch books. The final submission will be include an artist’s book or books that tell the story of my journey, and an exhibition/installation that creates a 'sacred space', as well as a written thesis.
This project grew out of my own experiences as a creative artist and lecturer in colleges of art and design and as a therapist and workshop leader in the context of transpersonal psychology. It was fuelled by a deep sense of disenchantment with much of what I had experienced in the world of fine art and art and design education, and the potential for the re-enchantment of that world using what I had learned from Transpersonal Psychology. My aim in doing this work is to create a body of theory and practice in which life, art and spiritual values are all completely integrated and to show how artists can occupy a central role in life once more as healers and mediators on behalf of the collective, as a new paradigm unfolds.The research will have a profound effect on my own work as an artist, and will inform my work as an educator and workshop leader.
Update:- A surprising and rather unexpected development that has emerged as central to my research has been the relationship between Siberian shamanism and my own art work, which I have explored through first hand experiences of shamanism in Russia and Siberia, and a body of art work made mainly on location in Morocco.
One of the characteristics of Transpersonal research is that both the researcher and the subject of the research may be transformed through the research process. This has certainly been true of the above project.