ANU painting postgraduate blog

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Back at my desk…brain reconnecting…

Hi all,

So I am back, and have been catching up with PGs hearing that the Theory Intensive was a great success. This is wonderful, and just as it should be!  Thanks to all of you who contributed to making it such a rewarding week.

While away I happened to hear on Radio National an All in the Mind programme with Iain McGilchrist discussing his work on the relations between the two hemispheres of the brain. It was a very interesting interview and I think directly relevant to our concerns in exploring the nature of the creative mind/body. You can hear it on the “All in the mind” site on the ABC Rad Nat website and you can download the introduction to his book “The Master and his emissary” which i believe will be available here in October.

Highly recommended!!!

see you all soon, Ruth


July 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Thanks for the link Ruth, I found the interview useful in thinking about the act of painting and my obsession with levels of involvement and detachment within process. Iain McGilchrist makes a simple statement about attention regarding his analysis of left and right brain function, “it’s the nature of attention determines what it is we find, and equally what we find determines the appropriate kind of attention to pay to it.” There are all sorts of compulsions in the process of making a painting that may be operating and I was very interested to find him referring to relational and broad social right hemisphere function and detached and precise individualist left hemisphere function.
    I thought this large quote might be useful on the blog,

    “Well of course I agree that things are contextual and there’s no absolute truth but unfortunately in postmodernism this often comes to mean there is no truth at all. There is nothing out there actually beyond the sort of paintings on the wall of the inside of our mind. And that seems to be very much more like what the left hemisphere sees, and in fact the products of the art of modernism and postmodernism bear striking resemblances to what the world looks like to people whose right hemisphere is not working very well.
    That was something that was first pointed out indirectly by a marvellous book by Louis Sass, an American psychologist who wrote a book called Madness and Modernism in which he draws extensive parallels between the phenomena of modernism and postmodernism and of schizophrenia. Deficits of the right hemisphere present a world in which the literal triumphs over the metaphorical, things taken out of context triumph over their meaning in a context, particularly a social context, and the sense of connectedness to others — empathy and so forth is lacking and the world appears to be a heap of fragments and one can see that in the sometimes wonderful but bizarre and exotic artistic productions of people with schizophrenia.”

    I am left wondering about my own brain, its superstitious understanding of phenomena particularly within the bubble of my painting practice and phd project. I relished becoming embedded within a whole community of superstitious minds (Western Arnhem Land). Superstition really is a relational interpretation of perception.

    Comment by Vanessa Barbay | August 29, 2010 | Reply

  2. Would you like to expand on your final paragraph?

    Comment by liz | October 4, 2010 | Reply

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