Ascalon, community art and acceptance
May 15, 2011, 5:14 am
Filed under: CCA1103

I always enjoy the opportunity to hear from guest lecturers and the creative process involved in their production of work relative to creative theory. Marcus Canning was the lecturer invited to lecture this week on the practical application of his artistic process in realizing a commissioned sculpture with fellow artist Christian de Vietri. The area of public and community based art and the inherent problems and solutions discovered was insightful in showing how creative theories related to community based creativity are practically applied.

The fundamental difference between personal creativity and community creative projects as I saw it, appeared to be the integration of people and government and organisations all needing to work towards a creative process which can satisfy limits set by the commission itself. Limitations such as public health and safety, time, budget constraints, issues of  artistic relevance,surrounding architectural, urban and natural environment, bureaucratic processes, personal and political motives, the undertaking of such an enterprise becomes a difficult exercise to control creatively. These highlighted issues don’t tend to arise in the personal creative process.

The way in which the commissioned work was realised and how the final piece entitled Ascalon evolved was an excellent example of what we as creative practitioners can expect to face if deciding to enter the domain of community based creativity. Here is a clip of the installation of the sculpture.

For more information on the commissioned piece view the following website:

The role and  importance of community based arts and culture in contemporary society was discussed in the tutorial. I have always considered the creative process important for individual growth. However the flow on effects to the community and its’ citizens in forging and promoting a healthy society  through creative study cases citied in the article, gave proven practical examples in dealing with economic and social renewal. A sense of pride, safety, heath and well-being of people in communal groupings regardless of size, place and diversity is imperative to a societies future health.

Reflecting on this I was reminded of a personal case were encouraging contact with diverse groups in the community through creative practice was created. I was teaching oil painting to a group of adult students in a community centre for seven years. In that time I discovered that a side effect to this teaching which I hadn’t counted on was the bringing together of people in the community.Due to diverse economical and social backgrounds the enrolled adults were not likely to encounter social interaction outside of the class. The students would tell me how they relished the weekly classes as a way of learning a new creative skill and the opportunity to engage with the diverse group. How diverse were they? I realised I had Academics, professionals from all parts of the economic spectrum, aged from 18 to 80, fellow artists, domestic mothers, even a nun. The issues discussed were broad, from art, religion, societal woes,etc. and although  not always in agreement, through dialogue and exchanging of ideology there was a great acceptance and tolerance in its diversity.

The passing on of my knowledge about painting was a great source of personal achievement. Bringing together of  a diverse group through communal creative practice, encouraging their personal growth through the visual arts, helping them to form strong social and communal bonds, is immeasurable to my own personal growth.

The creative process has led to interesting discoveries about myself and through the series of blogs in this creativity unit, the reflection and analysis of creative theories discussed, it has helped to give some concrete ideas to the ethereal and subjective analysis of why I create.

Referances :

Borrup, T. (2006). The creative community builder’s handbook: How to transform communities using local assets, art, and culture (pp. 3-30). Minnesota: Fieldstone Alliance.

Canning, M. (2011). Community- Based Creativity: Artrage. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 13th 2011.

Sceneteamperth. (2010). Ascalon installation at St.Georges Cathedral Perth.. Retrieved May 15, 2011 from:


Gestalt laws, Analogical thinking and Picasso’s idea.
May 15, 2011, 1:48 am
Filed under: CCA1103

We all returned from the mid semester break and headed for the lecturer theatre were Dr. Stuart Medley presented a lecture on visual style in graphic design. He put forward an argument for the importance of creativity relative to style within the creative industry. He spoke and showed examples of  ways  to interpret design using a creative process of reducing photography through graphics to give strong representations of clients requests. By doing this he was illustrating the psychology involved. How the brain does more than the eye in registering certain patterns of association and other perceptual consistencies. We look for patterns in our surroundings using Gestalt laws of grouping including laws of proximity, similarity and common fate. Certain assumptions I had that we as people are unique in how we view the world visually was proven incorrect by these discovered laws.

More interesting was proving that capturing the senses of sound and touch and even smell  in visual format is possible. Through shapes, caricature and illustrative stories such as cartoon strips a certain sense of imagined sound,  touch, etc.  can be achieved. This was again illustrated by associating certain sounding words with certain shapes. A long study of this was carried out globally by two scientists Ramachandran and Hubbard with a sharp-edged enclosed line drawing called Kiki and an organic and soft enclosed line drawing called Oba. They asked participants which word best suited which image. When tested in the lecture theatre by Medley the class unanimously agreed which word best associated with wich line drawing. It was the sound of the names not the name itself that created a sense of which drawing seemed to fit the image. This type of  association was first linked to the condition or disorder that people were afflicted with  known as Synaesthesia. So Dr. Medley was showing us how by using psychology and creative thinking in design, style, graphics and art we can visually communicate successfully.

Communicating ideas in visual format and using ideas, words or concepts and applying them in a new context has been achieved successfully by many people in their creative process. The idea was discussed in the tutorial of analogical thinking and its importance. Through the reading supplied we looked at multiple examples of analogical thinking and the different methods used. From Synetics to direct, personal, fantasy and symbolic analogy to combination of  methods in different examples of great artists, innovators and creative thinkers of the past.

From this enlightening discussion I realised that I have often used analogical thinking in the past to formulate ideas for creative purposes. A long history of this has occurred within the knowledge that as many people state  ” is any creative idea really original?” With this in mind let us look at one of the most famous contemporary paintings produced in the 20th century, Pablo Picasso‘s ‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon‘.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Oil on Canvas (244 ...

Image via Wikipedia

                      Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. Pablo Picasso.1907
On closer examination and research of where this painting originated from creatively Picasso looked to the past as many did before him. The three figures to the left have an echo of the three graces, am image used throughout the late Rennaissance.Picasso’s spanish artistic heritage also played an influence, with the twisting of the two standing figures to the right being similar to El Greco’s mannerist style. Even the blue space between them resembles drapery from  El Greco’s Dumbarton Oaks Visitation. The stony faces of the women on the left which gives them an indifferent and interrogating stare was derived from Iberian stone heads Picasso first saw in the Louvre museum. Whilst the mask style faces to the right was influenced by the African artifacts and masks owned by Picasso as a means of transferring emblems of savagery and violence into the sphere of culture.
Picasso visually illustrated that taking the ideas of others,combining them in a new context can produce work of such revolutionary form and content that it can still shock today. Analogical thinking at its best.
Davis, G. A. (2004). Creative inspiration through analogical thinking. Creativity is forever (pp.145-170). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendall/Hunt.
Hughes, R. (1991). The Shock of the New. Art and the century of change. London : Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Medley, S. (2011). Creative Approaches to Design. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 6th 2011.
Picasso, P. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.(1907). Image retrieved on Friday May 6th, 2011. From Wikepedia website:

Photo session 6 – Rituals
May 15, 2011, 12:25 am
Filed under: Creative Project

The creative ideas of session five seemed to flow into this session. I was thinking of the past photo session and the ideas behind it, the creative ideas of the session and the ideas raised caused me to zero in on more specific reasons for discussions I have with colleagues and friends.

Travel is big. So is the diversity of humanity and differences in ideologies , religion and associated ceremonies. I question why we perform ceremonial rituals throughout history? Do we find rituals reiterate our society and community beliefs? Which in turn creates strong bonds between family and community?

The variety, variance and subtleties of ritual in global communities are a constant interest. This conscious stream of thought was the catalyst for the photo session.

My personal rituals in how and were I serve friends and what is served is a way of creating a bond through ritual. So even in personal domains this gives rise to collecting and receiving objects which entrench the rituals created. So beginning the shoot the objects selected were dealing with these ideas creatively.

The form and texture of objects and their colour was intriguing. How solid some objects looked relative to others and the interplay created was  something that formed in my conscience as I began photographing.

My preference was also influenced as much by what wasn’t there as what was. In this case the over influence of dark objects required a visual colour lift.  The flower was a way of connecting with the session before(there were flowers in a glass) and a contrast of light and colour.The contrast of materials from metal and stoneware to paper and petals was a good way to show the interplay of creative ideas, from set ideas and nurtured moral and religious themes to furtive and ephemeral thoughts used in questioning such ideology.

It was interesting to see that through the process of creative thinking in the photo sessions previous to this my creative ideas became  even more concentrated in questioning. Object placement, lighting and showing elements in creative ways was occurring by thinking more about the object and what it represents in a broader context than from a personal one. Even though these objects were obviously from my personal surroundings I began to separate them more from were they came from and why they are used in my life. Close examination of their possible meaning in a context of other cultures and possible ritualistic interpretations began to enter my thought process.

So in reaching the end of my creative project I felt as though I was just beginning. A series of images I realise is not about the resulting  images made but the ritual in creating them and how I begin to view my personal domain in relation to broader ideas of society and culture. Informing and enriching my creative process along the way.

So below are a final series of images which was a great way to discover more about myself and my creative process. Enjoy.

image 10

A creative ritual. But is it the best example?


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Photo session 5 – A meal and a chat
May 12, 2011, 9:43 am
Filed under: Creative Project

Approaching the next session, I was looking at a glass with flowers and thinking about what they represent in my personal domain. The reason I enjoy their colour, and texture and their ability to create an atmosphere when exchanging ideas in an environment most of us do regularly, but never really think about. The exchanging of ideas, dreams and subjective ideologies over a meal.

I often consider how when invited to a meal or entertain over a lunch or dinner, what is it we do exactly? Are we expressing an idea of our lives as we see it through verbal exchange? If so, are we looking for validation of our existence with like-minded people? Why do we surround ourselves with colleagues, friends who share our ideology? There is always room for discourse and disagreements but we generally like the comfort of others like us.

I have been known to seek out the ideas of people who don’t see the world as I do. I think it’s because I truly want an opinion I find challenging and distinctly different to my own. It keeps me engaged with the world and the diversity I celebrate. Even if others view my choice of company at times  as weird or eccentric. Layering this with a partner who shares fundamental moral values we consider harmonious with each other, but again who has certainly differing views from my own, creates a rich exchange of ideas and discussion.

Whats that all about? Reflecting on this I think my creativity is propelled along into places of discomfort and challenging subjectivity because to grow artistically I need to expand my view outside of my own cognitive rumination. It’s about where do I sit in relation to the contemporary world around me? Not what I think – period! living in a cultural vacuum shared with people thinking carbon copy ideas as me just wouldn’t enrich me or my work. How can I inform others as a visual communicator if I am not informed?

I know that we have information at our fingertips via the mass media, but discussion and a chance to think things through with debate over a meal is personally very rewarding.

I know it still remains subjective, but at least I consciously engage with contemporary society however limiting in its size. Not easy to serve lunch for eight, let alone a larger united nations contingent.

So as usual the photo session started with certain thoughts and then placing certain objects together to create a visual idea of my mind and it’s machinations. But there is always other hints and ideas expressed through deciding what to include. Moving the objects around and trying different angle of lighting and focal placement was both conscious and intuitive.

I have constantly spoken in previous sessions about the process of photographing the work, which is a familiar struggle , so enough of that. From a creative and practical process I found it hard to express an idea that’s so ephemeral, how do you express ideas with solid objects, colour and light? I guess that’s the idea of process you just give it time, practice and a changing work surface till something happens.

So see what you make of it and hopefully there is more in it than meets the eye, that was the intention.

image 17

An image of an idea

Do you think it succeeds? Comment on your preference of image.

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Photo session 4 – an exotic tray
May 6, 2011, 2:39 am
Filed under: Creative Project

Photo session 4 started with  the tray. It caught my eye as it often does when I was striding past and thought lets examine this a little closer. The colours and patterns inside and the beaten silver design on the outside shows much care was taken by the crafts person when making this. I was free wheeling my thoughts and trying to brainstorm about what other objects I could associate with this and was there links with other objects. It was interesting to see what came out of the initial tray idea and the objects that complemented it. Obviously the items all have a strong eastern oriental flavour, something I have always found fascinating. Why do the cultures far from us intrigue me? Their boldness of design, colour and textural elements to the objects and their architecture is so strong.

What does the patterns represent? Are they more than just design? Why the shape of the objects as they are? Is it functional, pure aesthetic, both? As these thoughts whirled through my mind I thought good now start photographing!

Well viewing and trying to get the objects to work was tricky. The colours alone was showing me that certain placement needed to be encouraged and others not so. The light was harder to control because the materials of the objects either absorbed too much light or refracted it. So the process was simply a case of time equaled trial and error.

Creatively I enjoyed the suggestive influence of the placement and colour of items. As it progressed I was constantly rethinking and refining what it was I was trying to say. My subconsience led the way I didn’t want to force the thinking of creating the image, just wanted it to flow and happen.

I did notice as it progressed that the colours where harmonious and somehow they worked. Even the book seemed to feed in nicely. Was that a coincidence? Do  the colours favoured by other cultures occur in all areas of their life? Does the architecture, textiles and domestic goods follow repeated colour patterns or do they take on a western principle of colour of the season influence.

It’s funny, the session seemed to give me an even greater fascination for other cultures outside my own. It seems to heighten once again to me how wonderfully diverse and interesting contemporary life is and that a tray placed in my domestic environment can create such urges to view contemporary life from other environments so foreign to my own.

So as it ended I reviewed the images to choose one I think reflects what it was I was trying to show through the objects selected. I probably gave away too much- but everyone needs a break from subjective guess-work. Especially since the photo’s may not suggest things clearly.

So once again the photographs appear in the order they were shot and the single image I selected is above them. Hope you agree.Actually better if you didn’t agree, life would be pretty straight forward if you did. Besides diversity is the arabesques on the straight side of life.

image 15

 Don’t you think it looks exotic?

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Photo session 3 – Mars in signet
May 1, 2011, 1:43 am
Filed under: Creative Project

The search for items to photograph continued. I found it better to start with an item and thinking about the object, its’ significance to me and possible broader contextual meaning to other objects. So I remember thinking of an antique signet ring given to me and after locating it, decided that should be my starting point in my creative process. I know I don’t want to give too much away ( so as not to inflict my subjective view )but the item being small and the image on the ring needs clarification, due to its size making it hard to know what it is.

The ring is from the early 19th century and is made of Carnelian. This was a stone popular at the time for its hardness and ease of carving. The image is the head of  the god Mars, a popular motif in signet rings. Mars was the planetary symbol for representing the male and associated traits of energy, vigor and initiative. I think that’s enough to go on.

During the entire session I found the objects difficult to work with due to the shapes and extreme difference in size of the objects. Keeping them all in view whilst trying to make the image interesting and placement of objects truly tested my patience. The idea of scraping and starting again did enter my mind. But I ‘ soldiered on’.

When reviewing the images I feel that I needed to remind myself that this was a process and so sometimes you have to accept that not everything works out as first planned. In fact very little does ever go to plan, which is when the flexibility of the creative process kicks in. The creative process is more important than the final outcome if I want to move forward in my creativity. Understanding this and realising that this is a process that can continue to evolve for future consideration in creative works was key in keeping me focused and forging ahead.

So after the light which still scalds my fingers is switched of and objects put back where I got them from, it is time to show the results and the selection process for the image I feel best represents my creative aim is decided. Do you agree with the choice?, is the shoot a failure? should I have bothered with this session? You tell me.

image 9

 Difficult choice but thought it portrayed meaning I was aiming for. What do you think?


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Photo session 2 – perfection in imperfection
April 27, 2011, 8:10 am
Filed under: Creative Project


Searching for items on my next photo session I thought I would begin with a book. From here I seemed to focus from the style,font and type of book and collected objects accordingly. I realized by doing this a cohesion in the materiality of the objects occurred. They interrelate but still contain diverse texture and tonal range of colour and the occasional object contrasts nicely.

So it began again with looking, moving object, light, camera angle, focus and compositional cropping. I Should mention here that I have decided that no photo shop or computer enhancement is going to occur during this series. Critics may feel when viewing that this could have helped the images, however the idea of creative process is the goal not airbrushed photographic perfection( whatever someone thinks that to be), besides there is perfection in imperfection.

Whilst looking, shooting the images and reviewing I set myself the task of also trying to include all objects in the image taken. If I included them then the reasoning and compositional decisions made must in turn inform the image and the viewer.

The materiality I thought could really influence the light if I used the cloth as a tool in effecting the overall tone and mood. So I started to shoot with the cloth covering the light, being carefull not to set the room alight. It seems to shift the feel of the images taken, not sure if I like it however as the light contrast is diminished by the wash of colour across the image. Oh well, it is about experimenting .

It is very difficult to describe the shoot without giving too much away about the objects chosen and their influence in my reason for selection. So I find myself  realising this fact and so keep trying to create an image that is succinct even if subjective.

In the end the photo session seemed to be difficult. Sometimes the limits I set myself to help the image series interelate can sometimes hinder the creative process. Particularly when my mind starts to flow with possibilities of what I could continue to do in removing something or more lighting or different mixture of items. But I then consciously remind myself that could begin a vastly different process of ideas and not help my creative process and outcome here.

So ladies and gentlemen here is the next series of images. Don’t forget you can have your say and give preference to another image other than the selected one. Now back to fighting with dashboard and media uploads.

image 16

 my preferred image. Is it yours?


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