Lifelines: Myth and Meaning - Learning and Teaching

By Jivan Astfalck.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

LIFELINES is an installation project developed out of the need to explore research concerns in a wider application than my own studio practice. The aim was to transfer already developed artistic strategies to the teaching and learning of students (and possibly other participants in the future). The objectives were to facilitate and enhance experiential learning through a practical project that viewed design development in a narrative and self-reflective context, and to introduce critical practice in a soft and non-threatening way to under-graduates. The project is based on ideas formulated by Claude Levi-Strauss that regard myths as a system that codifies knowledge based on an understanding of reality, that links fundamental cosmology with everyday experience; a structured system of signifier. He believed that the system of meaning within mythic constructions parallels closely that of a language system, but also exists on the level of the story that myths tell. Considering that a large part of art/design/craft education in Britain is either focused on product development, which by its very nature is geared towards success in the world of trading, or individualised studio practice, the relational and social function of art is often neglected. In that respect, narrative exploration providing the motivation for the making of artefacts, and collaborative projects, like Lifelines, can offer a particularly fruitful strategy to engage with and explore social and relational aspects of artistic production and enhance experiential learning. Apart from the aim to create a visually engaging installation that can be exhibited in a variety of contexts, the project served to enable students to better position their work with reference to diverse social, cultural and interpretative issues and appreciate the relationship between a subjective artistic position, a wider cultural context and the production of contemporary decorative objects.

Keywords: Installation, Myth and History, Meaning, Making, Relational and Collaborative, Experiential Learning

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.23-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.610MB).

Prof. Jivan Astfalck

Senior Research Fellow & MA Course Director in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Product, School of Jewelery, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK

I was born and grew up in Berlin, quite some time ago… luckily in the western part of that divided city. After finishing school, much to the despair of my parents, I was not interested in anything. Fate rescued me with an apprenticeship to become a goldsmith. Many, many years of hard work later, having moved to the UK, I did my MA in the History and Theory of Modern Art at Chelsea College and later a PhD in Fine Art at The University of the Arts London. I combine my studio practice, which I exhibit internationally, with teaching as the MA Course Director and Senior Research Fellow at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University. I am interested in using contemporary hermeneutic philosophy, literary theory and other appropriate thought models as tools to investigate narrative structures embedded in body related crafts objects. In my view, the convergence of crafts, design and fine art practices is conducive to extending the theoretical vocabulary and map out new territories where crafts practices contribute to cultural production and dissemination.


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