For my masters research project, I was able to engage in Heuristic Inquiry (a fancy way of saying a personal examination, or putting the researcher’s own experiences at the centre of a study) and examine my own body of artwork. I found that there were many repeated characters, symbols and metaphors in my drawn artwork. I knew my art making felt meaningful but had never paid much attention beyond that. Through the research i engaged in a process called 'image dialoguing' (used commonly in art therapy, where you treat an image as separate to the artist and engage in questions such as 'what do you represent' etc- also this process was ‘gestalt’ in nature, in that there were lots of different parts and reflections of self being examined)
These characters were drawn, over and over again, popping up in most drawings, almost spontaneously. Around 120 artworks were collated and examined in this process. It's only been upon examination and 'questioning' each image have I now realised who and what they are. It’s kind of been amazing to me to see the intersection between my faith, my thoughts, my emotions, and day-to-day life all colliding in my body of work. As pastor Rob Bell would say, ‘everything is spiritual’ and I think for me, that certainly sums up my entire body of work. Existence is spiritual. Decisions have weight. Our experiences matter. Not just on a material level but on a deeper level where words don’t always exist. Which is, beautifully, where art comes in.
Three main categories emerged for me: spirituality, portrait, and whimsy/ humour. All of the characters fit into these themes.
Welcome to my world of archetypal characters and meaning.
It feels open, and strange, to expose them to everybody. They feel familiar, intimate, and important. But also, they need to be seen and heard. And, I want to show that art-making can open many doors to understanding ourselves and making meaning in our lives.
You don't need an art degree, you don't need to be amazing. You just need to be open to the process.