Crossing the Field: Creating Intra-Active Spaces Through a Participatory Artists’ Event Towards Problematizing Art Therapy

Morris, Lesley and Westwood, Jill. 2021. Crossing the Field: Creating Intra-Active Spaces Through a Participatory Artists’ Event Towards Problematizing Art Therapy. In: Val Huet and Lynn Kapitan, eds. International Advances in Art Therapy Research and Practice: The Emerging Picture. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 347-358. ISBN 9781527565845 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

‘Crossing The Field’ – a collaborative art installation arose in the context of the International Art Therapy Conference: ‘Finding Spaces, Making Places: Exploring social and cultural space in contemporary Art Therapy practice’ held at Goldsmiths University 13-16 April 2016. This intra-active participatory artist event began as a series of reflections on our experiences of the radical shifts and changes in the place of, and spaces for art therapy in the UK. Provoked by the crisis of the whole populations of people traversing the globe in search of a place of safety and refuge, these discussions grew into the concept of a collaborative tent city on the College field. At the same time our colleagues in Australia (Anita Lever and Sheridan Linnell) were moved by similar concerns to imagine a tent-shaped installation of builders’ plumb bobs and lines, a void space inside the positive space suggesting tension, precision, intention; a place where borders are articulated. We joined together and offered delegates a series of collaborative art-based sessions within these connected and conducive spaces. This wider collaboration of artists, we hoped, would reveal more of the cultural and political significance of art and space in art psychotherapy practice and thus enhance the conference project of rethinking relationships with the everyday places in which we work. Participants moved between indoor and outdoor spaces co-constructing an encampment of embellished tent structures on the College field; responding to and extending the plumb bob installation indoors or the visible tent city outside; drawing making and moving; touching the space, the void and the present.

With consideration of relevant art therapy literature on spaces and places, we used art as a process of inquiry to deepen understanding of the cultural and political significance of art, space and place in contemporary art psychotherapy practice. We reach towards an innovative research process to heighten awareness of the human, physical and ethical dimensions of art therapy theory and practice. We are coming to awareness that we have created an artistic encounter with the unknown. Where the idea of ‘crossing’ leads us to taking a problematising approach to critically engage with issues of space and place for art psychotherapists; towards the development of the use of art as an exploratory inquiry process; and a deepening understanding of the cultural, social and political issues in our work.

Item Type:

Book Section


Art Therapy, Participatory Art, Place, Space, Art-Based Research, Qualitative Methodologies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Unit for Psychotherapeutic Studies


4 May 2020Submitted
24 May 2021Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2020 15:42

Last Modified:

21 Oct 2023 01:30


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