‘Interviewing Images’: Using IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis) in visual arts research.

Andrews, Jorella G.. 2019. '‘Interviewing Images’: Using IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis) in visual arts research.'. In: Pictures and words: combining verbal accounts and visual images within interpretative phenomenological analysis. Phenomenology of Health and Relationships Conference: Creativity and Affect. Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom 22-23 May 2019. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Although Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is not commonly used by researchers in Visual Culture or Art History - it has been adopted mainly in psychology, the social sciences and health science - it is effective when it comes to interviewing persons about their experiences of making and viewing images. But to what degree, and to what effect, might its descriptive, analytical and interpretative techniques be used to interview images themselves, without this being merely or wholly a process of projecting our own perspectives onto them?

This question has been central to a series of workshops I began developing and delivering in 2018 called ‘Using Phenomenology in Contemporary Arts Research and Pedagogy’. In this presentation, I report on the techniques used and the discoveries made thus far as workshop participants have experimented with IPA in relation to both still and moving (audio-visual) imagery. I also reflect on the robustness we found IPA to have with respect to (1) helping us access and make articulate the often under-valued and poorly understood realms of pre-verbal and pre-cognitive (visual) experience and (2) helping us develop and strengthen sought after decolonising research orientations.

‘"Interviewing Images": Using IPA in visual arts research' was an invited contribution to a panel organised by Jonathan A Smith and convened by Michael Larkin entitled 'Pictures and words: combining verbal accounts and visual images within interpretative phenomenological analysis'. (Smith and Larkin with Paul Flowers are the developers of IPA and co-authors of the seminal 2009 book 'Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research'.) By exploring the notion of using IPA to interview mages, and by presenting a set of methodologies for doing this, my paper presented a novel use and further development of IPA.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)


Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Visual analysis, arts research, interviewing images

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


20 May 2019Accepted
23 May 2019Published

Event Location:

Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Date range:

22-23 May 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2019 14:15

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 08:19



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