Elucidating perceptions of ageing through participatory drawing
: a phenomenographic approach

  • Curie Scott

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Historically, drawing was valued as intellectual practice in the West, but now drawing becomes redundant in middle childhood when text based literacy takes precedence. When adults are asked to draw within research, they are anxious about drawing, and what happens in the drawing process and the drawing product itself are not analysed. The position taken in this thesis is that drawing, like writing and maths, is an intellectually driven process useful for thinking about abstract concepts such as ageing.

    Ageing is a significant global issue. There are now more people over 65 years old than under five and health professional students will care for increasing numbers of older people. Educational initiatives have attempted to address students’ disinterest and stereotypical views by forging stronger connections with older people. As current students will age and become old themselves, the new approach taken here is to provide an opportunity for students from different professional pathways and people over sixty to consider their own future ageing.

    This research enquired into how drawing could be used as a research methodology to explore perceptions of ageing.

    A Drawing Programme (DP) was designed which fused a participatory drawing methodology with phenomenography. Fourteen participants met for four drawing workshops over one month. They utilised generative drawing, a style of exploratory drawing cultivated from both objective and subjective drawing, to think about their own ageing. Participants explained, discussed and reflected upon five drawings in total connected to ageing.

    Phenomenographical analysis concentrated on the drawing process, the drawings and the meanings of them to generate a collective account of their variation of experience. Participants experienced the DP in five distinct ways, increasing in complexity from representing formed ideas visually in pictograms (category 1) to surrendering to the drawing process (category 2) where they gained insights from the drawing and others (category 3). They recognised myths of drawing and ageing they had unthinkingly absorbed (category 4) and were able to construct new ways of being (category 5).

    Participants moved from habituated thinking practices to embodied and transformed thinking. The synchrony of drawing, words, metaphors and gestures challenges Cartesian dualist notions of mind and body and ageing was no longer Othered but part of the Self ’s future.

    This research contributes new knowledge in three areas: the novel DP research design as a methodological contribution shifting drawing from research method to methodology; an account of non-artists’ experiences of drawing and contributions on the perceptions of ageing.
    Date of AwardAug 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorPhilippa Lyon (Supervisor), Inam Haq (Supervisor) & Ann Moore (Supervisor)

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