Sculptural Reconfigurations of the Kitchen Utensil
: A Poetic Chaos of Domesticity

  • Carole Griffiths

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This practice research explores how the abstraction and re-figuration of utilitarian kitchenware generates conceptions of autobiographical domestic experiences using methods of creation such as sculpture, drawing, video, and poetry. The study considers the complex nature of ‘inanimate’ objects which includes analogies and metaphors drawn upon memory, loss, and autobiographical accounts of personal domestic experiences. The project uses a process of identifying kitchenalia to convey a variety of perspectives on what happens when 'things' are modified through making and re-presented in other contexts. The reconfigurable kitchen utensil is examined in order to develop new artwork based on the 'insignificant object' of the kitchen utensil. By integrating two fragments, part tool and part body forms, and by manipulating selected materials in an evolving assemblage new material objects and knowledge are created.Memories have informed and shaped my practice, as well as contributed to the project's theoretical, and philosophical configurations. Memories have emerged through making and challenging past domestic rituals and habits. As an artist who uses home as a source of inspiration, interactions between items and surroundings, are constantly disrupted and exposed through reflection to present an evolving personal vocabulary.To develop my understanding of the haptic, I have made use of Richard Sennett's book The Craftsman, which asserts that making ‘provides insight into the techniques of experience’1. To support the idea of making through experience, I have consulted Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perceptionand Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space. Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of lived experience highlights bodily encounters where objects are known through our ability to move around them and manipulate them, whereas in Bachelard's phenomenological method, emotional experiences are triggered by memory and location, with a focus on the home. The physical act of creating and the experiences of home are used to accentuate what is seen and encountered through material objects, in this instance kitchen utensils. The study contributes to the wider field of sculpture and contemporary discourses about the home through a complex interrelationship of research and creative practice methods. This project provides a paradigm of empowerment through celebratory considerations of domestic circumstances, re-presenting the kitchen utensil as a new sculptural form
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University

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