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Base processes in the ocean environment. An investigation through ‘sculptural assemblage’.

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posted on 06.10.2017, 05:44 authored by Murphy, Fiona
‘Base processes’ is the central concept of this research. ‘Base processes’ is the term I coined to refer to underlying workings in the ocean environment that are expressed through movements, cycles and forces. The key finding in this overall research: As an artist, it is possible to visualize and perceive phenomena in the ocean environment as though seeing it for the first time, as an assemblage of ‘base processes’ that describe the underlying workings of nature. Further to this, during my field research I witnessed impacts of climate change. It is envisaged that climate change will increasingly degrade the ocean environment. This finding is demonstrated through my ‘sculptural assemblages’. I extend the parameters of sculptural ceramic practice. ‘Sculptural assemblage’ refers to my installation practice, that includes ceramics, mixed media, video and spatial concepts. This methodology offers the viewer a visual, physical, conceptual, and tactile experience. The three core areas in this research investigation are: sculptural form, material qualities and ‘climate change’ concepts. This is an art practice led research project. Exegesis documentation outlines field research investigations and studio explorations. Field research is my fundamental research methodology to investigate ‘base processes’. This approach offers: first–hand observation and knowledge, spatial perceptions, and close–up visualization of physical and intangible phenomena. My research focuses on underwater reefs, intertidal zones, icebergs and glacial environments. Ocean phenomena are mostly investigated through their movements rather than their stationary appearance. Changeable ocean processes and phenomena are observed, imaged and made concrete through ‘sculptural assemblages’. As part of research into ‘base processes’, I examine the interactions between water, earth, fire and air as foundational elements of life. This is interpreted through clay and glaze materials that are transformed through studio ‘making’ and firing processes into a tangible expression of ‘base processes’. My artworks celebrate the wonder of the ocean environment, but also draw attention to impacts from ocean acidification, coral bleaching and global warming and to the bio–diversity that may be lost. Transformational states represented through my sculptural forms imply natural processes that have gone awry due to climate change. My documentation references scientific data on climate change impacts. The two major ‘sculptural assemblages’ produced during this project are Reef Lab 2012 and Melt 2012. My artworks are visually–poetic expressions of ‘base processes’. ‘Other world’ is a term I use in my research to refer to unfamiliar, enigmatic phenomena that I experience in this world. This poetic concept is applied to these immersive sculptural installations.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Marian Hosking

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture