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Title: Rachel Whiteread : casting and collecting childhood
Author: Ashton, Jenna Carine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 5492
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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Responding to the works of artist Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963), this research aims to interrogate the social and spatial experiences of childhood, starting from the personal, childhood memory. Whiteread offers a curious collection of objects, furniture, toys, utensils, photographs and junk. Casting and collecting are Whiteread’s primary methods of artistic creation, of creative play, and these processes are at the centre of this thesis. Casting and collecting transforms objects – their uses and forms, and thus subsequent meanings and associations. Melanie Klein (1882-1960) was an early pioneer of child analysis, developing her distinctive method of the play technique. A key founder of British objects relations theory, Klein’s method incorporated creative play with objects and toys. Klein and Whiteread hold objects in common; play sits alongside casting and collecting. I use Klein’s theories to open up the childhood house of Whiteread and her methods of casting and collecting. The three chapters of this thesis, Closeted Childhoods: Closet (1988); Siblings and Seriality: Untitled [One Hundred Spaces] (1995); A Photographic Portrait of House (1993-94), draw on different aspects of Kleinian and psychoanalytical theory in response to Whiteread’s own childhood memory-work. Kleinian themes addressed include destruction and reparation, guilt and envy, loss and mourning, with the conclusion returning to that first object, the mother, and the presence of the maternal in Whiteread’s works. Primarily, I argue that Whiteread’s sculptural casts and installations are those materialised secrets of hidden and concealed childhoods denied by a mythology of familial unity. Significantly, I consider how the autobiographical childhood remembrance holds relevance for wider concerns of social and spatial experience – public and private.
Supervisor: Stacey, Jacqueline; Mavor, Carol Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rachel Whiteread, Melanie Klein, casting, collecting, childhood, sculpture, photography