An Investigation into the Potential of Ceramics to Expressively Render Flesh and Skin on the Human Body
University of Wales
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This practice-led research considers the ways in which the emphasis of flesh and skin in figurative ceramic artworks can be understood, discussed and demonstrated in terms of aesthetic properties. It examines theoretical discourse related to the concept of expression in art and applies selected theories and principles to the evaluation of the work of contemporary artists engaging with the figure. Understandings of key principles and properties arising from these studies are applied, tested and evaluated through a studio-based investigation, within the researcher's personal art practice. The project was undertaken through interdependent strands of theory and practical studio-based investigation, comprising: a literature search and field study to identify, review and evaluate existing material; the examination of key theories and debates related to expression in art; an examination of aesthetic properties in the work of selected artists, through the conduct of case studies; and the undertaking of studio-based trials to give form to, and to test and evaluate, the principles and properties identified in the theory and case study strands. Findings from the project support the philosophical assertion that figurative artwork exists within a common bodily frame of reference, thus enabling a shared understanding of its properties. Results from the studio-based trials demonstrate how particular perceptual relationships can be created or developed to achieve specific aesthetic properties that are expressive of particular bodily states or experiences. This research has developed and examined modes of ceramic figuration which manipulate the interaction between expression, representation, surface, and form to create a range of aesthetic properties that evoke sensations of flesh and skin. The study as a whole, being an integration of theory, fieldwork and practice, demonstrates how specific qualities and emotions within a range of figurative artworks might be effectively articulated, and also demonstrates the appropriateness of the medium of ceramics to achieve this.
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