Anna Loveday Minshall Fine Arts
  Series Introduction

Incongruous Objects and Unnameable Things Series

Write up from the exhibition of Incongruous Objects and Unnameable Things at its inaugural exhibition in 2014 as part of an MRes qualification at UAL Chelsea.

This installation of clay 'things' constitutes an evolutionary clamber through Charles Sanders Peirce's index of meaning; charting a path through not-knowing and 'what if?' within Fine Art process.

Objects transit between wordless iconic and recognisable symbols in a semiotic soup of potential signification. Playing with these stepping-stones of knowledge, just below the water line of conscious classification, led my theoretical enquiry into combining Freud's transitional space with Semiotician C. S. Peirce's 'third space' of interpretation - as a way of investigating creative flow.

However, there is a larger story behind the piece, which was not disclosed fully at the show, although visual metaphors are contained in the work. In 1983, whilst studying for my first degree at Wimbledon School of Art, I began researching the 'hero' or 'solar' myth genre, via Greek mythology. It struck me that this was a basic narrative pattern underlying every belief or creation myth I could find. It presented a circular pattern, which functioned as a map for the complement of apparent opposites. This was relevant because one of the greatest struggles I was experiencing as a visual artist and writer was the apparent opposites of words and pictures (i.e. values of symbolic and iconic expression).

Researching psychological ideas of duality in terms of notions of human light and shadow lead firstly to a post graduate qualification in group psychotherapy, then to a long study of symbolism and semiotics. It became increasingly important to understand the interrelation of verbal and visual practice and thinking, particularly in my teaching and exhibition practices.

It seemed that the 'Cartesian split' idea of duality was neither true nor helpful to creative endeavour and that instead C. S. Peirce provides a mediation route via his 'semiotic', which I explored in my MRes Arts Practice thesis: 'On creativity-the importance of not-knowing in Fine Art pedagogy' published on

'Incongruous Objects and Unnameable Things' was the practical component of the MRes. As the subject was the creative process within fine art practice and how to manage it - the installation made use of visual reference to the creation myth pattern which had informed over thirty years of work, practice, theory and teaching on the subject of creativity.

Although in my painting-practice pre-designed or illustrated content via convergent thinking modalities do not greatly figure (instead more divergent pathways of 'what if' are employed), this installation explored straddling both modalities intentionally. Therefore, it is possible to point out some of its constructs.

For example, the exhibition space itself was divided into three areas - my presentation, a mediating floor space and a wall where the audience could make their own creative mark. The exhibit was also a trinity both vertically and horizontally. Vertically there was a metaphorical super-conscious 'sky', a tabletop conscious 'earth' or surface and an under-the-table unconscious 'sea'. Male, female and hermaphrodite organic forms abounded.

The 'sky' part hosted flying feathers. The 'earth' part wood and string, and the 'sea' contained a floating parcel or casket containing personal experience of an unpleasant and traumatic nature (in the manner of 'Pandora's box'). This parcel was originally soft and womb-like but it had been tied with three-by-three sections of string and then covered in medical plaster which set in a hard crust or cast. Horizontally the sculpture podium was made of three equidistant planks and the spatial division of three was notionally observed in the arrangement of items above and below this exhibition plinth or table.

The pieces themselves were originally 'fashioned from clay' and specifically from red clay. However the red clay resembled dung too obviously and I did not want the project to be derailed by a Freudian interpretation of this aspect of creativity as limited or limiting to pre-verbal developmental stages. So they were dipped in white paint as a unifying innocent anonymity.

The initial pieces were simply and crudely the solid casts of negative space inside the first clasping together of both hands in order to make the first 'scoop' and compression of gathering up stuff as a creative act. It represented the space between the bringing together of two: right and left. Later these pieces evolved gradually into objects where fingers began to be involved in the creative process of making twists and folds etc.

The combination of values of threes, fours, and fives: These forms resembled early embryonic biomorphic shapes: embryonic ideas perhaps. As these forms evolved in experimentation and complexity, they first appropriated other nearby thoughts and objects, for example quill pens or dustpan brushes from the studio floor.

Lastly they developed along a linear path or evolution suggested by these initial appropriations and started to construct feather forms, quill cuticles and eventually forms which resembled the beginnings of wings, albeit clumsy and flightless.

This installation was an attempt at representing and exploring some of the processes in creative thought and making, also at keeping the work within an all important incubating 'middle place' of uncertainty, potential not knowing or non classification. The whole piece can be read from left to right and then up in a counterclockwise circle.

212 Hercules 213 Splitting 214 Captured 215 Stork 216 Viscera 217 Icarus or Osiris
Hercules Splitting Captured Stork Viscera Icarus or Osiris
218 Exhibition Shot 219 Embryoni 220 Biomorphs 221 Proto Icarii 222 Children 223 Things Waiting to Happen
Exhibition Shot Embryoni Biomorphs Proto Icarii Children Things Waiting to Happen
224 Things Waiting to Be 225 Vestigal Beauty 226 Embarquing on Flight 227 Suspension Or Flight 228 Useful Useless Thing 229 Feathered Useful Useless Thing
Things Waiting to Be Vestigal Beauty Embarquing on Flight Suspension Or Flight Useful Useless Thing Feathered Useful Useless Thing
230 Hopes, Wishes, Prayers, Quills 231 Bunnybird 232 Pandiculation 233 Swan Lake Pandiculation 234 Innapropriate For A Bird 235 Reach, Try
Hopes, Wishes, Prayers, Quills Bunnybird Pandiculation Swan Lake Pandiculation Innapropriate For A Bird Reach, Try
236 Evolving Devolving 237 Pandora's Parcel 238 Visitors Drawings 1 239 Visitors Drawings 2 240 Visitors Drawings 3 241 Visitor Drawing Wall
Evolving Devolving Pandora's Parcel Visitors Drawings 1 Visitors Drawings 2 Visitors Drawings 3 Visitor Drawing Wall
242 Painted Out Visitor Wall 243 Traces        
Painted Out Visitor Wall Traces        


  © Anna Loveday Minshall | Site by Joanne Ryan