Degree Name

Master of Creative Arts - Research


Department of Creative Arts


In 2007 the Tate Gallery, UK, initiated a collaborative research project in response to the commemoration of Edmund Burke’s 250th anniversary of his treatise A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and Beautiful (1756). The Tate website states that the purpose of the Tate project was to examine whether ‘the sublime’ continues to be a ‘legitimate and potent concept in the contemporary world’ (Riding et al. 2010). The project focussed on four key areas: the landscape sublime; the sublime in crisis; the Anglo-American sublime; and the ecological sublime. Continuing until 2010, the project has generated diverse discussion and investigation within a broad range of disciplines, effectively reopening the discussion within the context of contemporary visual art.

My research considers the continuing relevance of the arguments of Burke and Immanuel Kant, and how Jean-Francois Lyotard has reconfigured the debate about the sublime to have contemporary resonance. Further, I navigate psychological spaces, poetic structures and visual art references to consider what links can be drawn between water, flux, duality and the sublime in relation to my own art practice.

My paintings access the concerns of Burke, Kant and Lyotard by exploring spaces of uncertainty and anxiety, the limitless potential of imagination, the existential blankness of ‘nothingness’, and the problematic of presenting the ‘unpresentable’. The predominantly small scale of my painting practice is deliberate and functions as a threshold for a potential immensity. By engaging the possibility of a limitless imagination, the work invites the viewer to an experience of immersion and a poetic encounter with a watery otherness: liquid, solid or vapour.

Drawing on the key debates of the Tate project, both the paintings and research seek to explore and engage in the dialectics of the sublime in relation to water. The purpose of my investigation is to generate discussion, invite reflection and extend the debate on this topic within contemporary contexts.