Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language


In my current PhD study, Creative River Journeys, I use the metaphor of the river as a data capture tool when interviewing artist-researchers about their experiences of conducting creative practice within a university context. My use of the river functions as a metaphor for the creative process. I have adapted the River Journey tool from its previous use as a map of teacher identity and professional development, and in a project about children’s musical experience. This PhD project follows a long tradition of using the river as a metaphor. For example, the river has been used in a narrative therapy approach for substance abuse recovery, in teaching leadership, and in educational psychology. In this paper, I explain my use of the river as a metaphor in the Creative River Journey PhD study, and examine the use of the river in other contexts, those outlined above, and also Csikszentmihalyi’s theories of creativity and flow, Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture, and the poetry of Andrew Taylor and John Kinsella. I close the paper by briefly touching on my own use of the river as a metaphor in two autobiographical poems.

Author Biography

Kylie J Stevenson is a writer, reviewer and researcher whose work has appeared in Axon online journal, Australian Book Review and Readings Magazine, Melbourne. In 2010, Kylie commenced a PhD at Edith Cowan University in a study of the creativity of artist-researchers in academia using the river as a metaphor for creative practice. Kylie has been the recipient of five postgraduate scholarships and awards including a Commonwealth Cambridge Trust scholarship for studies at the University of Cambridge. She has completed two research theses: one on the practice of children’s literature postgraduate students at The University of Cambridge; and one at RMIT University, a practice-led project including a novel and an exegesis analysing the creative writing process using Csikszentmihalyi’s creativity theory. After completing this latter degree in 2004, Kylie subsequently taught creative writing at RMIT University until 2008. She has lived in Melbourne, the United Kingdom, and most recently moved to Perth, Western Australia, to undertake her PhD studies.


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