A genealogy of my creative practice

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2019 I move to Melbourne
to study MAPS at RMIT

I only completed a semester but enjoyed being introduced to Posthumanism and creating projects that explored a social practice and relational aesthetics: I created a guided experience in the proposed Heide therapeutic garden that aimed to facilitate participants' connection to plants, as well as a one on one guided project that explored mapping values with a participant and introducing the idea of ritualising the act of drinking water. In second semester I started a Grad Dip in Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne

In response to this personal tragedy I becomore more withdrawn, spending time in the studio but also gardening.
I plant a banksia tree in the back garden at Dad's house (which my sister ends up purchasing) and focus on cultivating a garden in the little courtyard attached to my unit, preferring the companionship of plants to people to support me through this period of bereavement. This experience reinforces my deeply felt affinity with plants and inspires new artwork.

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2018
Founder of the Polyvagal Theory Stephen Porges & clinician Deb Dana publish 
Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies 

The theory looks at the function of Autonomic Nervous System and how the vagus nerve elicits different psychophysiological states that affect the individual's ability to self regulate and engage in prosocial behaviour.

In my view this has important implications for the difficulties and conflicts that arise due to the misinterpretation of a communicator's intention in interpersonal interactions.

2010
Jane Bennett theorises
Vital Materiality

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2018 I have a solo show 
Garden State at Gallery 139 in Newcastle which explored the healing relationship between nature and bereavement

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2019 I have a solo show of paintings and ceramics at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne

Asides from the ceramics, the works are a departure from using figuration to depict human experience. The exhibition, titled Shape of Thought used a recurring branch-like motif in an abstracted picture plane to explore a visual representation of thought processes.

2005 - 2008 I go to university & complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in French and Creative Arts

I initially enrol in a bachelor of communications, then switch to arts to do a psychology major which in 2007 I abandoned to pursue art. If academic psychology tried less to be a science and had  a more practical approach (e.g., actually engaging with humans in undergrad!) I probably would have been more interested.

2009 I complete a semester of a Bachelor of History Illustration (hons) producing an illustrated short story Free Grub which is a satirical social commentary about human consumption.

2010 - 2015 I am involved as an artist in the Renew Newcastle initiative, utilising various different studio spaces in Newcastle's CBD

2012 - 2020 I work in the architecture industry in admin / marketing roles. Worth nothing because these roles enabled me to develop a good working knowledge of Adobe software like Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator which is utilised in my practice

c. 2010 My sister, a Clinical Psychologist, introduces me to ACT or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy & I attend a workshop with her  to get a better grasp of it

ACT is a therapeutic modality developed by Steven Hayes that utilised mindfulness techniques and a focus on values-led behavioural change to a wide range of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia

Aesthetic influences of my figurative work (2009 - 2018) include Mirka Mora and Michael Leunig 

Of particular relevance is Leunig's cartoon The Seven Types of Ordinary Happiness  which has been stuck on my fridge for many years because of my shared sentiment for the  'diffuse residual happiness resulting from rhythmic domestic tasks such as washing the dishes'

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Relevant highlights of the trip include visiting the Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) in Coyoacan, Mexico City and painting a temporary mural of flowers native to Chiapas at an abandoned train station in Tapachula which is being converted into a community cultural centre

2019-2020 Over the summer holidays I go to Mexico for 5 weeks with my (then) partner to meet his family

2004 I move to Melbourne to study computer animation but struggle to wrap my head around computer studies.  I move back to Newcastle a few months later to assist my mother in setting up and running her psychology practice.

Art influences in high school include Frida Kahlo and Fiona Hall

March 14 to May 31, 2010

In conjunction with her major respective at MOMA, Marina Abramovic performs The Artist is Present

a durational work for the length of her show where she is present for visitors to individually sit opposite her for as long as they choose.

2001 I go to France for a few weeks prior to starting Year 11

My host family introduce me to Jean Pierre-Jeunet's film Amelie (without subtitles) and back home I see it 6 times at the cinema near my house. The film's whimsical reminder to enjoy life's small pleasures helps stave off my teenage depression, and ultimately influences me to create a short film for my major creative project for my Higher School Certificate.

2002 Writer and creativity coach
Eric Maisel publishes The Van Gogh Blues, a book that identifies and addresses the recurring crises of meaning that seems to afflict creative people and precipitate depressions (the guidance of which subsequently gets me through many creative / existential crises)

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2019 I attend a Common Cause workshop which introduced me to communication theories and strategies to assist in engaging audiences with their cultural values.

Both parents work(ed) in the care economy, my father as an ED doctor and mother as a Clinical Psychologist. Though my parents were time-poor (which no doubt had affected me personally), their christian values influenced us to be honest, generous and kind to others. 

influences on personal 

values & ethics

Early artistic influences

Early impressions on my aesthetic preferences includes:

Eric Carle's bright and painterly collages, May Gibbs' delicate botanical illustrations,
and time spent poring over the The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Arts & Crafts book. The tactile appeal of the photographs of children fingerpainting and making papier mache sculptures was visceral to me as a 3 year old. 

1990s Curator Nicolas Bourriaud coins the term

RELATIONAL AESTHETICS

Bourriaud describes relational aesthetics or relational art as being an activity that brings people together to participate and 

notes the influence of the internet.

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My family gets an 

Apple Macintosh Classic

And I spent a lot of time as a child playing with MacPaint

1969
Eric Carle writes and illustrates The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
(1926 - 2022) helps bring Buddhism to the West

Throughout his life he advocates for peace, publishing over 100 books on meditation, mindfulness and engaged Buddhism

MODERNISM

Early to mid 20th Century

WORLD WAR II
1939 - 1945

1984 - 1993
My affiliation with plants
develops in childhood

My English mother cultivated cottage style gardens in both Port Fairy and our first home in Newcastle. Her garden aesthetic competed somewhat with my Australian father's love of all things native, particularly gum trees and these influences inculcated my nostalgia for both introduced and endemic plant species.

From the ages of 5 - 8 years I spent time in the backyard alone, observing plants, insects and other life forms up close, absorbed by their intricacy and beauty

1992 Walt Disney Pictures produces Aladdin, using computer animation for some scenes

Psychologist and ethicist Carol Gilligan & philosopher Nel Noddings help formalise Care Ethics into a distinct moral theory.

Virginia Held construes care as the most basic moral value.
Joan Tronto 'sanctions a feminist care ethic designed to thwart the accretion of power to the existing powerful, and to increase value for activities that legitimize shared power'

1980s 
Ethics of Care is theorised

1989 we move to Newcastle, NSW

1984:
I am born in Port Fairy, VIC

1969  Mierle Laderman Ukeles writes “Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!”

In her three and a half page manifesto she distinguishes between 'Development' and 'Maintenance' noting that development is culturally valued but maintenance “takes all the fucking time.” The manifesto also outlines her proposal for a show called "care" laying the  premises for her career

New Materialism emerges from feminist, philosophical, scientific, and cultural theories with a revival of materialist ontologies and an emphasis  on 'matter as an active force [that] is not only sculpted by, but also co-productive in conditioning and enabling social worlds and expression, human life and experience.'

1969  Michael Leunig begins work as a political cartoonist at a Melbourne newspaper

Postmodernism questions many of the viewpoints taken for granted during the Enlightenment such as the belief in an objective reality and that language refers to a reality outside of itself. Following the brutality of World War II it questions whether life has any inherent meaning and whether humans will become more enlightened through the use of science and technology.

POSTMODERNISM

1950s onwards

Humanistic Psychology emerges as the third wave of psychology

May Gibbs (1877 - 1969)

Humanistic Psychology focuses on the individual's conscious capacity to develop personal and interpersonal skills in order to enhance quality of life.  The ideas and values of humanistic psychology had a wide influence throughout society in the 1970s and 1980s.

The purpose of Sartre's existential phenomenology is to understand human existence rather than the world and to develop an ontological account of what it is to be human

Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) constructs a philosophy of existence known as existentialism.

Mora, avoiding Auscwhwitz in WWII, migrates with Melbourne with her husband where she becomes and artist and both become fixtures in the arts scene in Melbourne from the 1950s onwards including their supports in the establishment of Heide MOMA

Mirka Mora (1929 - 2018)

Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954)

Surrealism

is developed by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning 

1940s - 1950s
Abstract Expressionism

Current artistic influences include contemporary painters:

Nicola Moss

Jahnne Pascoe-White
Kate Tucker
Marisa Purcell

Gommaar Gilliams

A mood of disillusionment following WWI influences the Dada movement where emphasis is given to the illogical or absurd. 

WORLD WAR I
(1914 - 1918) & Dada

563 - 483BCE
Buddhism
originates in India

Marcel Duchamp (1887 - 1968)

Duchamp is the precursor to the Conceptual Art movement, asserting that art is a matter of the artist's attitude or choice, and that the concepts presented by a work are more important than its material form. He believed the artist should not be defined by their technical accomplishment, nor be obligated to make anything of commercial value. His refusal to continue painting and construction of 'ready-mades' are highly controvertial in his time and for most of his life he earns a living not through his art but through other means, such as working in a library, teaching French and playing professional chess.

Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954)

founds modern philosophy and introduces Cartesian dualism: claiming the mind and body are separate
 

Rene Descartes (1596—1650):
the Mind / Body distinction

17th & 18th Century Europe:The Enlightenment

age of reason, rationalism, the evidence of the senses, value of human happiness

Spinoza was part of the rationalist school of thought, though he opposed Descartes mind-body dualism.
His views are monistic and  popularised Pantheism - 'the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God' He was considered an atheist because he believed that God 'has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will'
Spinoza held good and evil to be relative concepts.

Spinoza (1632—1677): 
presents an ethical vision unfolding out of a monistic metaphysics in which God is presented as Nature itself

AD Jesus is born

Socrates
c. 470–399 BC

founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the ethical tradition of thought. 'The Socratic Paradox': he believed that people act wrongfully out of ignorance not intention

400-300BC:
Classical period
in Ancient Greece

Origin of Western philosophical thinking

Critical Annotation

My genealogy is mapped against a tree, referencing the traditional representation of a genealogy: the family tree, though mine is not mapped out branch by branch, as an infographic.  The imprecision of mapping this out on an image that has entangled roots and obscured branches was intentional and appeals to my (simplistic) understanding of Barad’s ‘entanglements’; like all matter, this map is in a perpetual process of 'ever becoming' (Barad p.ix). The knowledge it contains is not fully known to me and I could never consider it finished. The fact that it is constructed digitally enables it to evolve quite naturally, which is relevant to how I am seeking to extend my practice.

 

The earliest historical references in my map emerge from the root system which then extends up into the trunk where world history and my own lifetime converge, finally branching out into my art practice. I took the task of mapping myself into this assignment because I felt it would assist in helping me to reflect on the lineage of my influences and better contextualise my practice. That said, I've realised too late that the tree image is likely to change size in different browsers and throw the relationships with the text boxes out. Having individually adjusted each box to align with the image numerous times, I have to accept that it is beyond my technical ability to fix, so fingers crossed it looks ok on various screens (unfortunately it is not mobile-friendly). 

It felt important to ensure the map was interactive in some way, as I would like to explore both physical and virtual possibilities for interactivity in my art practice. I taught myself to use the hover box feature in Wix (the website platform I use) to enable the interactivity for this assignment. This a new skill that I could possibly utilise to appropriate a physical painting into a digitalised interactive form.

 

The main historic threads I’ve traced back were developments in philosophy, psychology and art as it seems these have most shaped my views and beliefs today. I have always had a strong desire to try to understand myself and others as best as I can, and I can see how that has guided my interests and continues to inform my practice (I also perhaps can't escape the influence of having two Clinical Psychologists in my immediate family and at least as many more in my extended family!).

 

With regards to the physical making of artwork, I can see clearly how early exposure to illustrators like Eric Carle and May Gibbs have informed my preference for textural, painterly marks that are contrasted with delicate drawings. It was interesting to realise that I actually started to express myself through digital media quite early on (I had forgotten about MacPaint!). This, combined with the time I spent as a child in the garden does help me understand my own narrative. 

 

I’ve included artists such as Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Marina Abramovic because of their relational and / or social approach to their practice. The recent discovery of Ukeles manifesto is of particular interest, particularly her observations on ‘development’ and ‘maintenance’. Care is very much an act of maintenance. It is a way that we maintain ourselves, tend to each other and maintain the invisible bonds between us. In fact, it occurs to me just now that perhaps the most valuable thing I could create as an artist is a manifesto, as the desire to cultivate and express an intention of care (be that of self, other, the world / nature - I view it as all connected),  is really the underlying thread that motivates my projects. The theories and values of New Materialism and Care Ethics are contemporary theoretical frameworks of particular relevance to my position, but I am also interested to utilise psychophysiological research (for example the Polyvagal Theory) and established interpersonal communication and therapeutic practices to also inform my approach as a values-led practitioner.

References
 

'About May Gibbs', n.d, May Gibbs, accessed 6 April 2022: https://maygibbs.org/about-may-gibbs/

'Abstract Expressionism', n.d,  Tate, accessed 8 April 2022: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-expressionism

 

'Age of Enlightenment', 2022, Wikipedia, accessed 6 April 2022: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment
 

Barad, K 2007, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and
Meaning
, Duke University Press, Durham & London

Bartlett, NL, c.1980, Children's Art & Crafts, The Australian Women's Weekly, Australian Consolidated Press, Sydney

Bennett, J 2010, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Duke University Press, ProQuest Ebook Central,
accessed 27 March 2022

'Biography' n.d, Museo Frida Kahlo, accessed 7 April, https://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/en/frida-kahlo-en/

 

Chilvers, I, Osborne, H & Farr, D, 1993, The Oxford Dictionary of Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford
 

Dana, Deb A. 2021, Anchored: How to befriend your nervous system using Polyvagal Theory, St Martins Press, AU

Dutton, B D, n.d, Benedict De Spinoza (1632—1677)The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 6 April 2022, https://iep.utm.edu/spinoza/

Duchamp, Marcel, 2021, Benezit Dictionary of Artists, accessed 7 April 2022 from Oxford Art Online

Gommaar Gilliams, n.d, De Buck Galleries, accessed 31 March 2022: https://www.debuckgallery.com/artist/gommaar-gilliams/

Harris, R, 2007, The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling and Start LivingI, EExisle Publishing Limtied, Wollombi

 

'Henri Matisse', 2022, Wikipedia, accessed 6 April 2022: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Matisse 

Holmes, T, Blackmore, E, Hawkin, R & Wakeford, T 2011, The Common Cause Handbook: A Guide to
Values and Frames for Campaigners, Community Organisers, Civil Servants, Fundraisers, Educators,
Social Entrepreneurs, Activists, Funders, Politicians, and everyone in between, Public Interest Research
Centre, UK, accessed 5 April 2022, <http://www.commoncause.com.au/uploads/1/2/9/4/12943361/
common_cause_handbook.pdf
>

Jahnne Pascoe-White, The Station Gallery, accessed 5 April 2022: https://stationgallery.com.au/artists/jahnne-pasco-white

Kate Tucker, Daine Singer Gallery, accessed 5 April 2022:  http://www.dainesinger.com/kate-tucker

 

Kenny, A 2018, An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy, 20th Anniversary Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Newark., accessed 6 April 2022: ProQuest Ebook Central. 

Leunig, M, n.d. biography, Leunig, accessed 8 April 2022: https://www.leunig.com.au/about/biography

 

MacPaint Version 1.5, n.d, Internet Archive, accessed 6 April 2022: https://archive.org/details/mac_Paint_2

 

Maisel, E, 2002, The Van Gogh Blues, New World Library, Novato CA
 

Marcel Duchamp, 2022, Wikipedia, accessed 6 April 2022: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp

Marisa Purcell, Olsen Gallery, accessed 5 April 2022: https://www.olsengallery.com/bio.php?artist_id=376

Mirka Mora 2021, Wikipediaaccessed 8 April 2022: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirka_Mora

Mirka Mora, n.d, William Mirka Galleries accessed 8 April 2022: https://moragalleries.com.au/mirka.ht

Nicola Moss, Arthouse Galleries, accessed 5 April 2022: https://www.arthousegallery.com.au/artists/nicola_moss/

Onof, CJ, n.d., Jean Paul Sartre: ExistentialismThe Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 6 April 2022, https://iep.utm.edu/sartre-ex/


'Relational aesthetics' 2022, Tate, accessed 27 March 2022 at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/r/relational-aesthetics 

'Relational Art', 2022, Wikipedia, accessed 6 April 2022 at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_art. 

Sander-Staudt, M, n.d, Care Ethics, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 6 April 2022,
https://iep.utm.edu/care-ethics/

Skirry, J, n.d, René Descartes: The Mind-Body Distinction, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 6 April 2022, https://iep.utm.edu/rene-descartes-mind-body-distinction-dualism/

Steinhauer, J, 2017, How Mierle Laderman Ukeles turned maintenance work into art, Hyperallergic, accessed 7 April 2022: https://hyperallergic.com/355255/how-mierle-laderman-ukeles-turned-maintenance-work-into-art/

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', 2022, Eric Carle, accessed 6 April 2022: https://eric-carle.com/eric-carle-book-gallery/the-very-hungry-caterpillar-1969/


'Thich Nhat Hanh' n.d, Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, accessed 7 April 2022: https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/thich-nhat-hanh


Walinga, J 2019, Chapter 2: Introduction to Major Perspectives - 2.4 Humanist, Cognitive, and Evolutionary Psychology, 
Introduction to psychology, Cummings, J A., Sanders, L, Walinga, J, Jhangiani, R, University of Saskatchewan, BC Open Textbook Project, BCcampus. Available from: https://openpress.usask.ca/introductiontopsychology/chapter/humanist-cognitive-and-evolutionary-psychology/ .[6 April 2022].

Yi Sencindiver, S, 2019, New Materialism, Oxford Bibliographies, accessed 8 April 2022: https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0016.xml#:~:text=New%20materialism%20is%20an%20interdisciplinary,%2C%20ontological%2C%20or%20material%20turn.

Tree image source: Adobe Stock