Chapter 7 of Patricia Townsend’s book Creative States of Mind is entitled Creativity, Aggression and Destructiveness.  Personally, I did not relate to the title and considered it to be about those artists who engage in some sort of violence in their practice, and much of the chapter did refer to aggression and destruction.  However, Townsend is at pains early on to explain that this is about how artists might violate their subject in rather different ways.  This quote from Gina Glover put my mind at rest briefly:

“Although I’m using reality and the visual world outside, I am always wanting to change it, I realise . . . It wants to have a whole lot of other echoes to do with the imagination.  (Glover in Townsend 2019: 68).

So, I think what Townsend is suggesting is that artists that do not wish to simply produce a literal representation of what they see somehow merge an extract of that external world and recreate it using their internal world.  I found this very interesting, and I would argue that my work is in this category, as I reduce the external world at the loch to small vignettes of the reeds, the reflections and the shapes and patterns and use them as metaphors for my internal world or to represent a world that Skye reveals to me, that most people never see.  What Townsend, I think, is describing is a transformation of the subject through the mind of the artist.  But this transformation also suggests a deconstruction – that the visual world – the sensory world has to be taken apart.

Townsend describes her own work in Morecambe Bay where she had focussed on the patterns of channels in the sand and how each passing tide reformed these through the action of the sea.  She also speaks of abstracting and isolating her chosen elements in order to break the tie to everyday existence (such as the wider shoreline).  As I said above, I focus on the shapes and patterns of the water and the reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd and I also attempt to de-couple the reeds and reflections from the wider literal representation.  Michael Podro argues that this process involves an aggressive rather than receptive response by the artist.  The deconstructed fragments of the scene and the artists inner world must be fused in a new presentation of the subject in the outside world.  Donald Winnicott, the psychoanalyst, refers to this practice as ‘living creatively’ (Winnicott 1990) when an artist seeks to find meaning in their encounters with the outside world.  In doing this, the artist must break it down before recreating it in a way that has meaning to them.



 TOWNSEND, Patricia.  2019.  Creative States of Mind:  Psychoanalysis and the Artist’s Process.  Abingdon: Routledge.

WINNICOTT, D W. 1990.  Home is where we Start from.  Harmondsworth:  Penguin.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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