Submission note: "A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the] School of Communications, Arts and Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, La Trobe University, Bundoora"
William Charles Piguenit’s (1834 – 1914) landscape paintings form the basis for this study of creative practice in and outside the studio setting. Piguenit travelled to the South-West of Tasmania several times between 1871 and 1887 to find the dramatic scenery, which he then painted on canvas in his studio in Hunter’s Hill, New South Wales. Taking its cue from Paul Carter and Simon Schama, this thesis argues that Piguenit found the landscapes in his travels that already existed in his mind. As a young man Piguenit collected picturesque and Romantic images from journals and newspapers and pasted them into a scrapbook when he travelled into the Tasmanian wilderness, he identified and found an emotional connection with Romantic views, and these are the scenes that he chose to re-create in his studio. Donald Winnicott’s theories of transitional phenomena are employed in this thesis to explore this paradox of both finding and making the landscape. Winnicott’s theories concern the process of engagement between subject and object, and transitional space is the ‘resting place’ between inner and outer. It is where the line blurs between what is ‘found’ and what is ‘made.’ Winnicott’s theory of Transitional space is extended to encompass the creative activities in the artist’s studio the centre of creative action that is both transitional and real. Derek Pigrum’s extension of Winnicott theories to the ‘charged objects’ that are found and placed in the studio is applied to this biography of Piguenit’s creative imagination, and the creative act. This thesis combines traditional research methods, such as original archival and biographical research, with ‘the archive of the feet’ travel to Lake St Clair and to Hunter’s Hill to identify and experience firsthand the locations Piguenit painted. The thesis is written from the perspective of a scholar who is also a painter, and is underpinned by the candidate’s own studio practice finding and re-making Piguenit’s paintings and images of Lake St Clair in order to find connections between the making of the works and the scholarly research.
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