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Transformation and transience: a studio exploration of transformation through change, pattern and ornament.

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posted on 2017-02-06, 05:34 authored by Campbell, Megan
This PhD project Transformation and Transience: a studio exploration of transformation through change, pattern and ornament, made in the period 2008-2012, explores the connection between transformation, the abject, materiality and ornament in twentieth and twenty-first century contemporary art. I pose the question; can a critical identification with transformation and transience of materiality and the abject provide a basis for artistic practice and dialogue? As a result of the research into this question, I propose that it is transformation that offers new meanings and interpretations in art. It does this through a transformation of physical structure of materials, through decay, disintegration and by the usual reading of an object being challenged by reuse in artworks that alter and challenge psychological interpretation. This question is explored and related to themes examined both through my visual practice and a discussion of relevant artists in this exegesis. My resulting visual artworks are a synthesis of the ideas and manifestations of transformation as explored within this exegesis. The materials and practices I have utilised include both traditional art materials such as cast bronze and acrylic paint on canvas and non traditional art materials from the domestic space such as works that are cast in butter and found textiles that I re- embroider with imagery. To establish a framework for this investigation the following artists and their practices are discussed: the late German born American artist Eva Hesse; American artist Mary Kelly; British artist Anya Gallaccio; American artist Polly Apfelbaum; contemporary Australian artists Tim Maguire, Timothy Horn and Narelle Jubelin; French artist Louise Bourgeois and British artist Tracey Emin; Australian born, Britain and Italy based artist Tony Clark; Japanese born and Taiwan based artist Michael Lin; Dutch artist Lily van der Stokker; and Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar. The exegesis consists of three chapters with overlying themes. ; Chapter One: Transience and transformation, Chapter Two: Materiality and Chapter Three: Ornament. The art practices of the artists examined in this project have been linked to the themes that have influenced my own work. These artists engage with themes of transience and transformation by decay, ornamentation and referencing forms from domestic space and everyday materials. The key theorists discussed in this project include Lucy Lippard, with particular reference to her writings on feminism’s influence on art and her examination of the practice of the artist Eva Hesse. I also refer to Julia Kristeva’s study of the abject in art, Powers of Horror (1982), and adopt her concepts in my examination of decay and ephemeral materials and how artists address repulsion within their artworks and the resulting impact this has on the ‘reading’ an artwork. Adolf Loos is referred to, with particular reference to his writings on ornament in architecture, fine art and the decorative arts. The aim of this PhD is to investigate the relationship of my own art alongside the artists and their practices as examined within the project. These artists provide a context and examples of art that engages with transformation, materiality, ornament and pattern. This is central to my practice as well as the methodologies of the artists examined here. My artworks represented in this exegesis, represent a synthesis of my research and findings of the question; can a critical identification with transformation and transience of materiality and the abject provide a basis for artistic practice and dialogue The artworks made for the final exhibition create a visual expression of this research.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Kathy Temin

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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