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Title: Art and the Divine
Authors: Mulvey, Clare Amelia
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: © C A Mulvey
Abstract: My research is an enquiry into the nature of divine grace in the making and contemplation of art. It is, therefore, practice led and operates through phenomenological processes that explore three encounters: firstly, experiential - my art practice, secondly, historical - the theoretical context of my reflection and sources and thirdly, lyrical - the mode of my writing and the assimilation of my research. The study of Sandro Botticelli's painting, Mystic Nativity, 1500, juxtaposed with aspects of Arte Povera and my own contemporary practice, steers my theoretical study. This strategy has revealed various fields of thought; philosophical, esoteric and psychoanalytically informed feminist scholarship. The shift in perception that juxtaposition affords contributes to my understanding of an unseen dynamic integral to metaphysical thought. With this in mind I focus upon the way in which Botticelli has depicted the hay that circulates around the form of the Christ child in this Nativity painting. My investigation into the nature of this overlooked dimension detected in Mystic Nativity has enabled me to find a way to articulate the divine in art. The research operates through a number of practices art, writing, conversing and contemplation. My artwork explores spatial and haptic elements in the form of installation. Here an experiential encounter extends the reflection of my sources in further unforeseen sites of contemplation and practice. In my writing I seek to articulate a lyrical encounter of my own artwork and the art that I contemplate. This research responds to the themes: hay as membrane; hay as calligraphy; and the palimpsest. In my first chapter, Painting the Picture , I consider the intellectual and historiographic context in which Mystic Nativity was painted. The Florentine scholar, Marsilio Ficino was Botticelli s mentor. Ficino was the founder of the Platonic Academy influential in the intellectual life of Renaissance Florence. The theme of the palimpsest is evident as I investigate the diffusion of knowledge through the humanist scholarship and their translation of ancient texts. In my second chapter, Hay as Membrane , I explore contemporary thought that considers the Other: variously described in the theory of Emmanuel Levinas - as feminine; by Simone Weil as divine; by Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger as a matrixial dimension; and by Julia Kristeva as lyrical. These theorists contribute to my interpretation of a pre-articulated and circulatory, transient and overlooked, dimension. I have come to understand this as a feminine dynamic that contributes to our subjective development and operates beside the formation of meaning. My last chapter, Hay as Calligraphy , looks at the language of the Other and the ever-evolving language of art. I review my installation, Hay in Salem Chapel, in these terms. Walter Benjamin presents a phenomenological approach to language through his concept of the archaic and these thoughts return me to the theme of the palimpsest. The semiotic thought of Julia Kristeva and Mieke Bal helps to reveal new discursive approaches with which to engage with Mystic Nativity. Their research supports my exploration of the quality of interchange that may take place. In my conclusion I refer to the significance of the practice of art as the site where the immanence of a feminine dynamic interacts with the metaphysical. Luce Irigaray s thought concerning the innate quality of the divine within our subjective makeup informs me as I reflect upon the current practice of Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci in their artwork called Prayers. This research aims to open up new sites for thought and ways of appreciating the divine. I have placed the experience of that encounter in the frame of making and contemplating art, initiated from my personal experience.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/9498
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Arts)

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