Thesis (Ph.D)

Material as a gateway to other forms of knowing - what the secrets in materials and processes can offer in the field of transformative social practice


This practice-based PhD explores the role of physical material as used in art, in social art processes. Here the material stone is the starting point for geological studies and practical explorations such as photography and a stone-carving project. Detailed observation of the phases of work in this project then lead on to elaborate a working model for creative processes that might form the basis of participatory social art practice. An account of my journey of practical explorations in this PhD is accompanied and supported in section 2 by studies of two sculptors. The first, K. Prantl, is rooted in a classical view of material in sculpture, whereas the other, J. Beuys, integrated the material stone into his “theory of sculptural processes”, seeking a universal application of the concept of sculpture to society as a whole. In the main part of my thesis (3) I introduce a newly developed form of group work – workplaces – (see definition in 3.12) drawn from my own stone-carving practice. Here each participant becomes involved in the process of exploring the material stone, working on individual questions and issues, and at the same time engaging with social realities and universal themes in group discussions. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2013, over 120 participants took part in a total of 6 workplaces each several days, along with 4 one-day workplaces that formed part of the concluding installation. In this section, 20 illustrated work processes of individual participants – entitled Ways – will be presented and discussed. This broadening of artistic practice is considered in the subsequent reflection on transformative social practice. The distinct stages of work in this methodology are clearly elaborated (in abbreviation: 1. openness, 2. warmth, 3. rhythm, 4. focus, 5. care and attentiveness, 6. mastery, and 7. breadth) and are offered as a model for certain forms of social practice as well as for further research.

Attached files


Schluermann, C

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Arts
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment


Year: 2014

© Schluermann, C
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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