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Title: In-the-making : an anthropological study of how clay becomes a work of art
Author: Higgin, Marc
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 6727
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores questions around making, knowledge, value and material culture; all of which are central to anthropology's project of trying to understand the possibilities of human ways of being in the world. The aim is to describe the processes through which raw materials - in particular clay - are transformed into art through the work of particular artists and their relations of exchange with the people and institutions of an 'art world'. Why clay? It's such a common material but it is altogether so mutable and capable of being formed and transformed in so many ways, that it presents an ideal material with which to work and think with. I worked as an assistant with two artists: Douglas White and Alexandra Engelfriet. In labouring alongside each artist, making work in studios, galleries, museums and forests, I gradually got to know the rhythm and feel of their practice; a sense of the materials they worked with and the tools, equipment and techniques they used as well as the form and feel of this aesthetic experimentation. I also followed the move from studio to gallery and how both these artists engaged with, and sold their work to, galleries, collectors, curators, museums, commissioning institutions, funding bodies, and a wider audience of journalists, critics and peers. Throughout, my interest is with what difference working with clay makes to the formation of things and their transformation into art. The thesis presents the stories of particular works of art, in which their making serves as a concrete and partial thread weaving together the particular configuration of relations out of which an individual artist, their body of work and its value emerges. Rather than approach art as a distinct social phenomenon or mode of cultural production, this research works with art and artists in-the-making, as relational achievements between many different logics of production, exchange and relation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art objects ; Clay ; Material culture ; Creative ability