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Bronwen Findlay, Yinka Shonibare and Joanna Smart: approaches to pattern and form in contemporary artists’ practice.

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The purpose of this Master’s dissertation was to investigate the use of pattern and fabric in the artworks of contemporary artists Yinka Shonibare, Bronwen Findlay and the researcher, Joanna Smart. Through this enquiry the aim was to position her practice and approach with respect to pattern in the contemporary Fine Art context. This research intended to explore how pattern and textile is used to challenge the art and craft hierarchy within the art of a few contemporary artists. Further this research acknowledges a subjective element in these artists choice of pattern and fabric. The methodology used in this research is Practice-Based, which will reflect on how the researcher makes work through the painting process and the documentation of that process. The theoretical framework that underpinned the thesis is the art/craft debate. The researcher’s studio practice aimed to disrupt hierarchies of art and craft, and this dissertation explored how notions of art and craft have been interrogated in her painting. This dissertation discussed how the approaches of other artists has shifted the researcher’s work with regard to pattern and cloth. The researcher aimed to experiment with the different ways in which textiles and pattern can be used in the researcher’s paintings. Through a reflection of her painting practice and an examination of how other artists use pattern and cloth, the complexity of possible meaning inherent in pattern and fabric was explored. For example, the conceptual meaning of pattern and fabric in the researcher’s painting practice was encouraged by the research into other contemporary artists’ works. The researcher discovered a deeper appreciation for the way cloth and pattern challenges hierarchies within art and craft. Furthermore, the way in which pattern and cloth are often used as signifiers of culture and identity was explored. This dissertation explores how pattern and cloth reflects the researcher’s experiences. Importantly, the review of other artists’ work shifted how she uses fabric and pattern as a representation of culture and identity in her paintings. Additionally, her practice shifted visually with regards to diverse textures, colours and tones.


Master of Art in Fine Arts. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2017.


Theses - Media, Visual Arts and Drama.