Liza McCosh - Artist

Master of Arts Research

McCosh, Liza 1996, The Interpretation of Nature as Spiritual Content in Painting (MA dissertation), Deakin University, Australia.

The research which comprises a body of studio work and and a scholarly exegesis, investigates the interpretation of spiritual content in the practice of painting.  In part, it defines aspects of spirituality while also exploring my concerns regarding the despiritualization of nature and the relationship of this to Modernity.   I align with the concerns of the Romantic movement and explore the notion of the transcendental sublime in relation to spiritual interpretation.  The work of J. M. W. Turner and Casper David Friedrich is introduced as a reference for the body of studio work. The paintings and drawings comprising the thesis explore my concerns through the visual expression of concepts which suggest nature as a spiritual source.

copyright Liza McCosh


 Doctor of Philosophy Research

McCosh, Liza 1993, The Sublime: Process and Mediation, PhD dissertation, Deakin University, Australia


Traditional interpretations of the sublime have been based on Idealism.  My research contrasts this by exploring the material basis of the sublime experience through the practice of painting.  I suggest that the sublime is derived from sensory experiences such as those related to creative arts practices.  From such experiences new insights into creativity are revealed to the artist.  I maintain that this process is driven by the material interaction that occurs within the creative process, indicating that the sublime is a materially-based, generative experience mediating between subject and world.

The research emerged through a particular process of painting which is demonstrated in the artwork comprising the exhibition entitled Threshold.  The autonomy of material in forming imagery and particular creative effects is emphasized through the painting method, which involves multiple washes of heavily diluted acrylic pigments on primed canvas surfaces.  At certain points in the process of making, a sense of the sublime is experienced, which can also be conveyed to the viewer through tensions that exist within the work and which articulate with a liminal space that references the sublime.

Primarily, the thesis emerged from the practice of painting but is theoretically contextualised by the phenomenological ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Don Ihde, Michael Polanyi and Martin Heidegger.  The body of paintings is discussed in relation to a framework of traditional and contemporary artists including Helen Frankenthaler whose work is pivotal in allowing me to identify and extend the painting processes and ideas conveyed in the exegesis.

 copyright Liza McCosh