Self-ordering creativity and an independent work space: Edna Clarke Hall’s poem pictures in the early 1920s

Murray, Kathryn Emma Fleming (2012). Self-ordering creativity and an independent work space: Edna Clarke Hall’s poem pictures in the early 1920s. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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This thesis argues that the Poem Pictures made by Edna Clarke Hall (1879-1979) in the early 1920s signify new approaches to the treatment of ‘neuroses’ in British psychiatry following World War One, and contends that the artist’s biography is pertinent to understanding the production and meaning of these works. These hypotheses are demonstrated by considering Dr Henry Head’s responses to Clarke Hall when she sought his aid in 1920, following a period of emotional imbalance and physical illness. The thesis proposes that the philosophies underlying Head’s advice can be traced, via his acquaintance with psychiatrist Dr W.H.R. Rivers, to the unique psychotherapies practiced at Edinburgh’s Craiglockhart War Hospital from c.1916-17. Analysing archival holdings, it suggests that the Poem Pictures are Clark Hall’s creative manifestation of Head’s use of autognosis, by which a patient repeatedly verbalizes their subjective position. In relation to Craiglockhart’s ‘ergotherapy’, particular significance is placed on Head’s advice that Clarke Hall purchase a studio, and it is proposed that this space was imperative to the artist’s recovery and burgeoning career in the 1920s. In turn, this thesis situates the Poem Pictures and their author within the context of middle-class women’s participation in the arts in the inter-war decade.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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