Supervisory Team: Director of studies Sarah Bodman, Alex Franklin
Emily’s research takes an in-depth look into the urges and desires that drive artists to draw, and how these urges are fulfilled as a drawing is being made. She is interested in why and how some contemporary artists feel the need to make drawings that express and reveal interior life and what this compulsion brings to the work itself. The study will consider a series of selected practitioners, historical and contemporary, considering the overlaps and intertwining of practice to see what can be discovered.
The study will make links and illuminate the relationship between the drawings of early Outsider artists and contemporary artists producing work that sits within the same field. Emily will look closely at the Outsider works made in mental health asylums at the turn of the nineteenth century which still strongly resonates in the art world today, and how some contemporary artists have appropriated some of the formal aspects of this work. Artists who are working around 100 years apart and in radically different circumstances will be compared to see what parallels may be drawn and what new light can be shed on the drawings made then and now, which often look so similar.
There are some artists whose work is bound tightly with their personal, interior lives, their biography becoming an essential element of creating meaning within that work. The study will find out what that process is by undertaking qualitative research, asking the artists involved to talk about how they are feeling and what they are thinking when their drawing practice is taking place.
How large a part does the autobiographical element play within that process, and ultimately, how does this affect the drawing itself? The study will consider artistic motivations, analyse what these motivations bring to the work produced and explore how this new knowledge could be applied to the Outsider drawings. The study will investigate whether some artists today are using similar processes as some early Outsiders as a strategy, or whether there could be a connection in the creative urgency of the work. It would explore these questions from an artist’s point of view, shedding new light on the autobiographical within contemporary art.