Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts


School of the Arts, English & Media


Artists’ notebooks, vernacular photographs and personal collections are often viewed as minor footnotes in exhibitions or in respect of their main oeuvres. Yet these personalised fragments are oftentimes more compelling than they at first seem, exposing an entangled web of threads and traces that intimately map the artist’s working processes, life experiences, doubts and digressions that are part and parcel of the creative act. Walter Benjamin took great inspiration from his personal collections, referring to his kaleidoscope of objets trouvés, notebooks, postcards and rare journals as a “magic encyclopedia”, while the anthropologist Michael Taussig, has described the notebook as a “slumbering repository”, itself a kind of ‘collection’ of fragments and threads that is activated like an “awakening bear” when recursively reread. It is this ‘slumbering repository’ of fragmented ‘relics’ that my practice-based Doctorate of Creative Arts explores through recursive engagement with my own collections: a nebulous mass of photographs, notebooks and objects itinerantly accrued across many geographical regions over the past two decades but only now revisited. To ‘unpack’ and revisit this material contrasts with a linear chain of artistic production, where the artist typically starts with an idea or notebook sketch, and, through a series of chronological steps, arrives at a completed work that is generally presented at a remove from the train of processes and external encounters that led to (and informed) its conclusion.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.