A few reflections on some random out-of-context stuff from the seminar.

I think I’ve identified the problem I’m grappling with and that is finding a balance between intuition and being purposeful in my art making. A phrase I wrote down twice in my seminar notes was: ‘understanding the consequences of our thoughts’ which is a pretty apt piece of advice for me at this stage of my study.  The problem is, it’s a bit of a conundrum also, because it is all too easy for me to get caught up in the thinking and second guess all of the making to the point of crushing it altogether!  I have to understand the consequences of my thoughts without getting trapped inside them. Understanding the problem isn’t the same as having a solution… but I’m working on it!

On the last day of the seminar there was a really interesting discussion around the division between form, subject and content in artworks.  I’m a bit of a slow burn on this kind of thing so bear with me (and correct me if I’m wrong). As I understand it:

FORM is the materials, what it looks like, how it is made up.

SUBJECT is what it is about, the ideas it explores.

CONTENT is what it does, what the audience reads in the work, what it refers to.

If I’m right, and that is the case then it would seem that in every artwork the artist has control over the form and the subject, but not the content. The artist should understand what the content might be, and perhaps even aim for a particular content to come across, but this is the slippery part because they cannot guarantee a specific content to successfully come across to the viewer. I think maybe it only happens when the form and the subject are very cleverly aligned. Maybe this is what Anthony means when he talks about something humming?  Perhaps also content could be aligned to the artist’s intentions… a work is successful when the content and intention are very close, and less successful where the intentions and content don’t match?

It’s a bit of a brain teaser, but it’s possible probable that I am over thinking it.

David Thomas talked about the benefit in ‘wasting time’ which is not the same as squandering time, rather allowing for time without intention and just being in the world.  I’m resolving to do more of this.  Some of my better ideas have popped into my head, fully formed, out the blue when I’m in the middle of something else, so making time to waste time is probably very valuable for an over-thinker like me.


  1. hi justine

    Enjoyed reading your post and first tried to find a really great article about being ‘bored’ that was in the canvas magazine a while ago, but have only found these from the herald. The article talked about allowing yourself to get bored and simply observe the world or just sit there and day dream. These 2 article talk about similar things (my boredom escape is the garden and weeding):

    I am a great believer in letting the mind wander and I agree with you the best thoughts come in when you are doing something totally non related. Both these articles talk about not doing ‘anything’ and simply let the mind day dream away.

    Finding that balance between intuition and purposeful is hard, but I do think that our intuition is fed by our reading and research, so don’t stop it, just know when you have reached the ‘paralysis through analysis’ point.

    Remember to make art (use process, materials etc) that makes YOUR soul sing, never try and make art that you think you should make, or that others tell you to make. Be firm in what you like, listen, add the advice to the melting pot (the brain) and let it gurrgle away. Then make and make, sometimes just making is a great release.

    The hardest part of this masters (for me anyway) is the same as you; trying not to get bogged down by all the reading, or be pushed by others to make or use processes. Our masters journey is also a personal one (David Thomas comment that I loved).

    In regards to the content/form/subject part:
    From how I understand it is that you are supposed to research to find the content of your work – the idea, then you choose your subject or the materials to help express these ideas.

    For me this does not work – As I work both intuitively and also influenced by research. So I read, I make I read and make and make… all depends how the making is going whether I go back to reading sooner or later.

    some websites I found just quickly, that could be help:

    hope some of this is helpful

    1. Thanks so much for those links Elle, very interesting reading! Got out of town for a bit on Friday and the drive as well as the change of scenery did wonders. The other benefit of this kind of brain downtime is of course that it is re-energising!

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