World University Rankings - Top 100

DUT: Research to help unleash creative ideas of artists

DUT: Research to help unleash creative ideas of artists

Independent artist Sarah Richards has successfully conducted groundbreaking research seeking to encourage visual artists to unleash their creative ideas by using the natural environment as inspiration.

The title of her research is “Artist’s block: The creation of a workshop to re-engage visual artists with their creative process by using the natural environment as a facilitator”. She did this research for her MTech degree in Fine Art which she will receive from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) at Graduation in June 2008.

Richards explored different perspectives covering the effectiveness of the natural environment as a place to re-inspire creatively blocked artists, techniques and theories around the facilitating of a workshop. She facilitated two workshops as primary aspects to the research, and interviewed artists and facilitators to give the research a contemporary South African perspective. She also investigated whether a workshop could help students, during and after their study years, to understand their creative process and to realise that artist’s block is a natural aspect of the creative process.

On completion of her research she says she realised it is important that artists understand they are not the only ones ‘suffering’ and that there are several methods which can help shift the block. She then resolved that artists who are creatively blocked could find a workshop useful in engaging with their creative process, and that the natural environment is a successful facilitator in this process, especially for the willing participant. She also found that students have many concerns especially with low self-confidence during their study years, adding that through discussions during a workshop they can realise that other students have similar or different issues with creativity and study.

She maintains that her research finding will help lecturers at tertiary institutions understand some of the difficulties that students may be struggling with, such as dealing with low self- esteem or fear of failure.

A fulltime artist, she also teaches painting and sculpture to adults privately and runs workshops. She is also creating and selling bronze sculptures and oil paintings. She also does work on commissions both in sculpture and oil portraits. She plans to facilitate a workshop for artists at the end of July.

Having worked hard over the past 15 years to learn and perfect skills relevant to her career, she believes the Masters was another way of gaining more skills and self-confidence. “I am pleased that I have completed the M Tech. and I acquired knowledge and confidence as an artist and facilitator,” says Richards.

She advises current students to have a clear idea of what they are interested in researching. She pointed out that the journey of research and exploration will reveal the depth of the subject, but there should be some clear starting point. “Work at it consistently, the process then flows and the burden is alleviated through constant attention,” she concluded.

For comment, please contact Sarah Richards on My cell 0837070126 or 033 266 6755.