Drawing between solitude and community
: an aesthetics of illustration for participatory art practice

  • Duncan Ross

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


My study considers the ‘illustrative’ within the emergent field of drawing as social engagement. I identify characteristics prevalent across a range of artworks that incorporate an illustrative mode toward making original proposals for future participatory practice that incorporates techniques and concepts of drawing. I apply three interconnected approaches toward this aim: a practice-led system
of methods in the form of a series of dialogical encounters as an illustrator and arts facilitator; a case-study analysis of a spectrum of practices from the fields of publishing, participatory culture and engaged arts; and a cross-disciplinary literature review grounded in theoretical frameworks of artistic social engagement. My proposals are relevant across practices which can be considered as addressing the ‘aesthetic’ and the ‘political’ in different ways. These include critical artworks whose effectiveness rests in their autonomy from the very community they seek to transform, and activities that correlate aesthetic experience directly with the transformation or production of new communities; including works of grassroots, fan, and non-professional practitioners. From this
survey, my results identify three conditions whose consideration has significance for convening new forms of participatory works that incorporate illustrative drawing. The first of these concerns the use of drawing to re-inscribe ideas of selfhood in concert with the use of illustration to re-inscribe the draughter’s community. The second concerns an understanding of participatory work that
incorporates illustration as constructed from multiple gazes, and the third condition is the reoccurring articulation of the act, artefact or agency of illustrative drawing in terms of an intermediary. The three conditions comprise my response to the call for more social engagement within illustration practices by contributing to a more inclusive definition of participatory public arts and to further expansion of the field of contemporary drawing.
Date of AwardApr 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRalf Sander (Supervisor) & Suzanna Chan (Supervisor)

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