Groom / Consume / Repair

Prof Doc Thesis

Withers, S. 2021. Groom / Consume / Repair. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering
AuthorsWithers, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Spanning printmaking, photography, video and sculpture Groom / Consume / Repair explores the construction of female identity through consumerism; the pursuit of perfection, acceptance or visibility through the acquisition of possessions.
This report reviews the evolution of my creative practice since graduating from a Fine Art degree in Leeds, through postgraduate study in printmaking at Wimbledon School of Art and subsequent activities as a freelance artist and curator. The main focus of the report examines the key tensions or contradictions which emerged as central concerns during the five year practice-led research enquiry on the Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London.
Informed by a range of contemporary feminist art practice, there is particular focus on the work of Janine Antoni, Mika Rottenberg, Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas and Sylvie Fleury.
The research examines the influence of class and the dangerous or transgressive qualities of that which is often considered frivolous: colour and fashion. Alongside analysis of the cultural associations conveyed by materials, tensions were revealed between the need to conform and the capacity to subvert the societal expectations of women’s appearance.
The power of fetishism is considered, and the theories of both Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx have contributed to the emergence of central themes; the idea of woman as both consumer and the consumed, and the revealing of the repetitive, hidden qualities of labour on which consumerism relies. Alluding to the processes involved in the manufacture of products and the maintenance of display, the preservation of order over self and surroundings is also explored.
The influence of minimalism is acknowledged, specifically the use of the grid to suggest order or control. Addressing the excesses of consumerism through references to minimalism and the use of found objects revels the connotations of what we value, and what or who, we discard.
The evolution of a sculptural component to my practice as a visual artist led to the recognition that exhibiting is a form of research activity, as necessary to development as time spent in the studio. An approach which can embrace the speculative or unsettled as productive, and allow the unforeseen to become a catalyst for progress.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online09 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
SubmittedApr 2021
Deposited09 Dec 2021
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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