Uninterrupted: Mentally Ill Art Students’ Narratives of Learning and Creating

By Olivia Sagan.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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

This paper is based on an ongoing research project at the University of the Arts, London, in collaboration with the University of Worcester. Investigated were the narratives of learning and of creativity amongst a group of students with enduring mental health difficulties. Here, one emerging theme is selected for exploration, that of motivation.
Employing a longitudinal biographic narrative methodology, this research, now entering its third year has triggered questions regarding the resilience and fortitude of a group of practicing, aspiring artists. This paper sketches the theoretical background used to explore this resilience and motivation, and draws on the Kleinian concept of Reparation as a way to understanding the narrativised yearning for learning and the urge to create.

Keywords: Creativity, Mental Illness, Reparation, Narrative

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 8, pp.203-212. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.206MB).

Dr. Olivia Sagan

Senior Research Fellow (Pedagogy), Centre for Learning & Teaching in Art & Design, University of the Arts, London, UK

Having worked for many years across the educational sectors as well as within educational departments in hospitals and rehabilitation units, I am currently Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Arts, London. Here I direct and undertake research primarily into the lived experiences of learners, particularly those deemed socially disadvantaged. My main research interest remains in exploring links between mental illness, learning, creativity and auto/biographic expression. I use a psychosocial approach to analysis, to question and explore how we take up identities and subject positions. My methodology of choice is biographic narrative, particularly with participants who are ‘reluctant storytellers’.


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