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Materialising ritual : a visual investigation of the evocative power of ritual objects, through the medium of cloth and thread


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O'Rourke, RA 2006 , 'Materialising ritual : a visual investigation of the evocative power of ritual objects, through the medium of cloth and thread', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This research project has investigated ways in which visual qualities enhance the
evocative power of ritual objects. Through the medium of cloth and thread the project
aimed to find ways in which to visually represent intangible aspects of ritual such as
wonder and talismanic protection. A key element of this aim was to explore ways in
which to represent ritual action in still objects.
The impetus for this project came from my own experiences of Catholic ritual and its
objects, however it also considered a wider range of traditions of ritual practice both
religious and secular. The project was not concerned directly with the spiritual, but rather
with the very human activity that surrounds it. I was interested to discover what it was
about ritual objects that distinguished them from other more 'everyday' objects, that is,
what made them special.
In order to carry out this investigation I considered various functions of existing ritual
objects. These included their ability to manifest in material form what is essentially
immaterial (prayers, intentions, hopes, and sentiments); to condense symbols; to evoke
a sense of wonder and awe; to separate what is considered to be sacred from the
profane; to be symbolically rather than physically instrumental; and to provide manuals
for ritual action.
My work is located primarily with reference to the work of other textile artists such as
Anne Brennan, Louiseann Zahra and Elsje King who employ cloth and thread to
embody a sense of intangible presence. Reference is also made to some of the works of
Annette Massager and Janine Antoni which deal directly with ritual-like practice.
My contribution to this field lies in the creation of quasi ritual objects which borrow
existing aspects of ritual to explore how form, colour, ornament, labour, and material can
be used to enhance an objects perceived 'power'. Primary to the development of these
objects was the consideration of ways in which to visually suggest ritual action. This was
explored through the use of physical form; stitching as a metaphor for the intense focus
and repetitive nature of ritual participation; as well as the connotations that thread has of
connectedness and its suggestion of paths.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:O'Rourke, RA
Keywords: Ritual in art, Textile crafts
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2007 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references

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