Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Communications and Arts


Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Marcella Polain

Second Advisor

Dr Paul Uhlmann


This project, including the visual artworks and poetry developed for the exhibition Wonderfully Ordinary, is the outcome of practice-led research into the creative process. Through creative practice—and the development of a personal and fragmentary process of invention—it aims to generate knowledge about creative practice as a form of philosophy in action. Drawing on Paul Carter’s concept of material thinking and historical ideas arising from Western Australian author Elizabeth Jolley’s (1923–2007)creative process and writing, it explores ways in which Friedrich von Schlegel’s (1772–1829) philosophical conception of the Romantic fragment might be revealed as a continuing idea of interest and tool for contemporary art production. It also asks how a creative engagement with the archive and the past to which its materials give access, might facilitate the production of new creative works. Critical to this is a set of understandings of history and the archive found in the writings of historian Carolyn Steedman. These understandings address what we can and can’t know about the past, and the transmission and reconfiguration of ideas over time. Ink is used—falling as words, drawings or blots on paper, and dust is applied as a metaphor for the possible interconnectedness between artists and viewers, our relationship to ideas and to nature. An archive of ink-blots: material translations of connections made between creative process and the chance processes of evolution—an exploration of the shared past of Romanticism and science as naturphilosophie—is the result of time spent with the zoological specimen collection at the University of Western Australia. Jörg Heiser’s writing on Romantic Conceptualism, historical understandings of the ink-blot and the artistic practices of Victor Hugo, Bas Jan Ader, Xu Bing and Mark Dion also inform the project. Importantly, the research arises from female experience: the personal challenge of the work of an artist seeking wholeness in the midst of professional and family life, and the fragmentary or increasingly divided and interrupted nature of ordinary days. The fragment and working fragmentarily suggest an alternative to a stereotyped conception of creative production as a necessarily uninterrupted and somehow separate activity conducted at a distance from quotidian concerns.