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University of Newcastle

1. Francis, Mandy. Material poetry.

Degree: PhD, 2016, University of Newcastle

Research Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

How to negotiate a solo sculptural practice when working with and within community? In the last 20 years I have observed a major shift in the government sector towards encouraging and harnessing the value of art and culture. A plethora of cultural centres, events and programs have been created, some aiming to provide a combination of artist-in-residence programs that link community with art, as well as ‘public art’ commissions. It is these sorts of programs that have been the dominant source of commissions for my work. However, there are challenges and paradoxes that arise when an artist is dealing with bureaucracy and outcome-driven procedures and there are consequences for artistic integrity when art is reduced to a vehicle to create preconceived outcomes such as social harmony, ‘experience economy’, or being ‘gap fillers’ for creating ‘vibrant cities’. My position is that art is transcendence; it surpasses society and culture. Art offers potential, not answers or solutions. Art is neither design nor politics, although finding the demarcation points or the outer limits helps to delineate and anchor the ambiguous nature of art. This has been made evident through the ‘reflective archives’ of my experience as a practising artist, where I give detailed firsthand accounts, critiques and re-evaluations of three separate modi operandi: the social action model of artist-in-residence, the relational or participatory art practice and the individual self-governed practice. Within the reflections I look at both other artists in the field Tim Knowles, Sarah Sze, Chiharu Shiota, Janet Laurence and Ian Milliss and projects I have been involved in such as the Rolling Film Project, The C-art, Underbelly Arts Festival, Japan Australia Art Musings and Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi. The research provides a springboard for my own future artistic endeavours/research/practice, along with offering a rhetoric to the artist who wishes to negotiate a socially engaged practice.

Advisors/Committee Members: University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, School of Creative Arts.

Subjects/Keywords: contemporary sculpture; public art; social sculpture; social art; site specific art; interdisciplinary art; relational aesthetics; material enquiry; participatory art; collaborative art; mindfulness; socially engaged art

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APA (6th Edition):

Francis, M. (2016). Material poetry. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Newcastle. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Francis, Mandy. “Material poetry.” 2016. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Newcastle. Accessed December 06, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Francis, Mandy. “Material poetry.” 2016. Web. 06 Dec 2019.


Francis M. Material poetry. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Newcastle; 2016. [cited 2019 Dec 06]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Francis M. Material poetry. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Newcastle; 2016. Available from: