Individuation: An Artist's Quest

Prof Doc Thesis

Wu, Linda 2011. Individuation: An Artist's Quest. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Architecture & The Visual Arts
AuthorsWu, Linda
TypeProf Doc Thesis

"I use the term "individuation " to denote the process by which a person becomes a psychological "in-dividual" that is, a separate, indivisible unity or "whole ". It is
generally assumed that consciousness is the whole of the psychological individual.
But knowledge of the phenomena that can only be explained on the hypothesis of unconscious psychic processes makes it doubtful whether the ego and its contents are in fact identical with the "whole". If unconscious processes exist at all, they must surely belong to the totality of the individual, even though they are not components of the conscious ego. " (Jungl959:275)

The above quote, defining Jung's theory of "individuation" is the principle upon which I based my art practice at the start of the Professional Doctorate programme.
My quest was to create art, from conscious and unconscious elements, in other words, the totality of my personality. At that time I believed my objective was to define the
archetypal phenomena with which I was concerned and having identified that, to work towards a clearer strategy for creatively expressing it within my work.

The proposal I prepared at the start of the Doctorate programme highlighted an inconsistency with regard to my creative practice and the artists I admired. My paintings were abstract but I researched artists who used narrative and figuration. I resolved to reconcile this paradox by introducing narrative and figurative elements within my working practice. Initially, this proved to be more difficult in practice than I had thought and the first two years of the Doctorate programme did not see a significant change or progress in my work.

There were several reasons for the delay in following
through with a change in my work. Despite a conscious desire to change, will power alone was not enough to produce the hoped for transformation. I had developed a method of painting that relied on intuition to guide me to the next step and although this was not producing
the desired results, I was entrenched in this methodology and found it difficult to move to a more considered way of working. Another reason for my lack of progress was my insistence on using Jungian psychological theory within my work. I was trying to summon unconscious content by using vague and obtuse references to psychological theories. I believed that if I relied on my intuition to guide me I would forge a meeting between conscious and unconscious content.

I eventually managed to change from abstract to a figurative form of painting using narrative and composition. Further progress took place when I distanced myself from concentrating on psychological theory and used my life experiences to inform my work. By allowing a less illustrative way of working to develop, my paintings began
to have a life of their own becoming less literal representations of ideas.

The Doctorate programme enabled me to integrate the many strands of my psyche in an expanded and integrated art practice. The refinement and maturity that I believe I
now demonstrate in my creative practice seemed impossible to achieve at the beginning of the programme. It was a long time before any substantive changes took place, however, it is my belief that changes that have been painstakingly won will be permanent. They are securely anchored within my psyche and therefore my art practice.

KeywordsIndividuation; Archetypal phenomena; Jungian psychological theory
Publication dates
PrintJun 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Oct 2013
Additional information

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