Fragmentation: Materialising Mourning through Complicated Grief

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    This research by project is asking whether the affect of embodied materiality can be materialise from complicated grief, in an investigation into the relationship between the affect of grief and the creative, embodied encounters with paper materials. In some types of traumatic loss, complicated grief can subsume the bereaved in a way like no other. Mourning can be a very difficult process.

    The research integrates creative practice, working with fibre-based materials, with the scholarly and cultural exploration of the literature and theory of mourning as a specific psychological state of mind. It is an exploration of the experience of mourning a complicated grief, through the sustained process of an embodied encounter with the materiality of making paper. Paper becomes the metaphor to discuss research questions that connect the maternal with affect in maternal grief, that paper can be the Symbolic and the body that inputs Cartesian culture is feminised using affect of the embodied encounter with materials. This research is not into art therapy, nor into art as illustrative of psychology.

    I use a hybrid approach to methodology, involving auto-ethnography and subjective experience as a medium through which to reflect on the relationship between materiality and affect. The substrate uses play; judgment is suspended, whilst being handmade to create individual materiality. Culture and social theory, which enabled the methods of auto-ethnography and creative practice research to emerge, are the paradigms of postmodern and post positivist accounts of new relations between ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity’. Moving forward from Glaser and Strauss’s thinking on grounded theory, display, together with reflective practice, is compatible with the emergence of feminist thinking on the significance of subjectivity and affect.

    The submission comprises a written dissertation, which reflects on the six years of creative practice, making new sense of the conventional silence surrounding complex mourning. The practice itself, connotes affect through the materialities of paper.

    In part submission of PhD for the Royal College of Art
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Royal College of Art
    • Pajaczkowska, Claire, Supervisor, External person
    • Robins, Freddie, Supervisor, External person
    Award date13 Apr 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Paper
    • Paper Clay
    • Textiles
    • Sculpture
    • Fragmentation
    • Fragile
    • Grief


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