Medium as a process: the role of the medium in the making process and its impact on the development and expression in figurative ceramic artwork
Martini, Babette Karoline
University of Wales
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This practice-based research examines the expressive capacity of the ceramic process and medium. Expression is considered in relation to a specific range of bodily experiences and states, namely: those associated with what the human being and the human body might undergo within an industrial environment (a context that is a recurrent theme of my art practice). The artistic manipulation of clay, I argue, influences the expressive potential of the resulting artwork,suggesting that the manipulation of clay is more than simply a means to achieving a predetermined end. Using my own artistic practice as the principle method of investigation, I examine the relationship between the ceramic medium, the process of making and the resulting expression. The research is made up of four strands: (1) a literature search with field studies, (2) a theoretical investigation, (3) a practice-based investigation, (4) and three case studies. All strands are conducted concurrently and inform one another. The literature search outlines the area of study, and the field studies confirm and clarify the focus of my investigation. The theoretical investigation examines relevant theories of expression, and I adopt the phenomenological approach of Merleau-Ponty, on account of the relation he establishes between embodiment, artistic medium and expression. This provides a framework which allows me to describe and analyse my engagement with clay and related processes. The experience of making is vital for an understanding of how artists interact with their work and medium. Through my own practical work, my interviews with case study artists, and the reflection and implication given by phenomenology, I describe, explore and extend the expressive potential of clay. The research shows that expression is not the result of antecedent awareness, but the result of the artist's bodily communication with and experience of her medium. It emerges that there is a link between the artist's bodily engagement with the medium and the aesthetic, expressive qualities which are achieved in the resulting artworks, leading to the conclusion that the medium is an active and responsive participant in the artistic process.
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