Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Nien Schwarz

Second Advisor

Dr Lyndall Adams

Third Advisor

Dr Lekkie Hopkins

Abstract

This thesis, Material Murmurings, comprising of exegesis and creative practice, focuses on the central research question: “How do we understand the materiality of glass and what happens when said materiality is approached through feminist scholarship?” This question forms the basis for an investigation through creative practice and analysis via an interpretive framework of feminist knowledges of the body. The creative practice embraces glass as the central medium with a series of exhibitions that responded to the interpretive paradigm. It is expected that Material Murmurings will highlight and make evident the value of post-technical approaches in glass art which have only recently become an acknowledged form of contemporary visual arts within Australia and, to a lesser degree, the broader international context.

The intention of this thesis is to address the lack of dialogue surrounding glass as a contemporary visual arts material by discussing how female artists have been using glass within their practice through a paradigm of feminist scholarship of the body. A lack of formalised inquiry into the material depth of glass exists. Through formalising this discussion via a framework of feminist knowledges, the study will open up the possibilities for writing about glass, allowing for the expansion of the dialogue surrounding contemporary glass art. The study will also make visible and highlight the breadth and diversity of contemporary glass works being produced particularly by female visual artists, embracing the material itself for its depth and wealth of possible meaning.

The exegesis pays particular attention to the work of female artists who have embraced glass for its materiality. Materiality is understood as the insistence of meaning that a material contributes to a work of art; the qualities, history and function beyond the decorative or aesthetic value that the material contributes to the artwork. My feminist visual arts praxis has provided the motivation for this exegesis and my obsession with glass has driven the choices of artists and theorists discussed. The exegesis demonstrates how glass can be interpreted/read/understood within the visual arts through a feminist lens.

Various exhibitions through the research period culminated in a final exhibition titled Material Murmurings (2013). These exhibitions revealed different ways of critically interpreting and locating glass works beyond the traditional craft paradigm. This research has responded to the contemporary scholarly call for a need for visual arts critical review to be more inclusive of contemporary glass works, and has provided through practice-led research that is inclusive of materiality, praxis and process, a basis for this, with significant outcomes exhibited as artefact/object/publication.

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