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Inconsistency and contradiction: lessons in improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison.

Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris

Authors

Anne Douglas



Contributors

James Brady
Editor

Abstract

The essay draws out the learning from the authors' analysis of the practice of Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b.1932), collectively known as 'the Harrisons'. Inconsistency and contradiction are conventionally eliminated in research but, according to the artists, are opportunities for creative improvisation. Drawing on key works including: The Lagoon Cycle (1985), Atempause für den Save Flüss (1989), A Vision for the Green Heart of Holland (1995), and Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2008), the critical reflection on the artists’ poetics focuses on their use of metaphor and improvisation. The artists describe actively seeking contradictory metaphors as starting points for projects and improvisation is manifest in the artists’ work as process, as well as in the forms of language used in texts. The essay explores the Harrisons’ interest in their methods being taken up by other practitioners and disciplines: they term this 'conversational drift'. Fremantle proposed the focus on inconsistency and contradiction; Douglas contributed research on improvisation; Fremantle and Douglas jointly analysed discursive approach.

Citation

DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2016. Inconsistency and contradiction: lessons in improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. In Brady, J. (ed.) Elemental: an arts and ecology reader. Manchester: Gaia Project Press, [online]. Available from: https://www.cornerhousepublications.org/publications/elemental-an-arts-and-ecology-reader-gaia-project/

Publication Date Mar 31, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 15, 2016
Publisher Gaia Project Press
Book Title Elemental: an arts and ecology reader
ISBN 9780993219207
Keywords Improvisational art; Helen Mayer Harrison; Newton Harrison
Public URL http://hdl.handle.net/10059/1697
Publisher URL https://www.cornerhousepublications.org/publications/elemental-an-arts-and-ecology-reader-gaia-project/
Related Public URLs https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/238230
https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/673907
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2769
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2770
https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/696066
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2128

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