Week 31: titles

Lines of Sound Connect (detail) Collage.

As artists it is one of our roles to communicate through our medium with the viewer/reader/listener/audience. One way to provide a ‘way in’ to a work is through titles. They can often determine place or subject, theme, genre or abstract idea.

This week I have been arranging my work for the installation of my honours exhibition. Which piece goes where, how do they relate to each other in the space, how will the audience ‘read’ the work.

One of my greatest dilemmas is titles. I could title each collage by the name of the sonic wave form, e.g. chop, beat, form etc. There is little of the poetic in these verbs, they do not “charge each word to its maximum poetic value”.[1]  They are action words which deny contemplation, a superficial rendering.

I came to visual arts and printmaking as a way to include poetry with images, yet most of my works do not include text. But I find myself turning to poetry when it comes to composing titles and on occasion have used lines from my own poems to title my artworks.

In his book Material Thinking, Paul Carter writes about the way a work of art can be perceived as merely representational, rather than discursive.[2] When viewers cannot see beyond a pleasing pattern, has the artist failed or succeeded? If the meaning of images and their analogies  cannot be communicated, this he postulates is where writing can “intervene”.[3]

As I stitch each collage, finish it and pack it away, I am reminded of my father and his need to collect, classify and create order; a legacy of paper and words. From my poem Legacy (2006):

“You have bundled up your memories with string

if I unravel the knots the paper will tear

your thoughts tumble upon the floor”

The irony of these words does not escape me. Ten years on and I work with fragile remnants of paper, layering ideas and images, stitching them with blue thread to holdfast my thoughts lest they unravel and tumble on the floor.


[1] The Faber Book of Modern Verse, 4th ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1982), 41.

[2] Paul Carter, Material Thinking : The Theory and Practice of Creative Research (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 2004), 20.

[3] Ibid.



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