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Reflective Practice

ISSN: 1462-3943 (Print) 1470-1103 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/crep20

Poetics and space: developing a reflective


landscape through imagery and human geography
Paul McIntosh
To cite this article: Paul McIntosh (2008) Poetics and space: developing a reflective
landscape through imagery and human geography, Reflective Practice, 9:1, 69-78, DOI:
10.1080/14623940701816667
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623940701816667

Published online: 01 Feb 2008.

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Reflective Practice
Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2008, 6978

Poetics and space: developing a reflective landscape through imagery and


human geography
Paul McIntosh*
University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, UK
This paper seeks to explore the notion of thinking space as reflection through drawing on the
concept of landscape from a number of theoretical constructs. Firstly, the aim is to utilise
geography (and to a lesser degree architecture) as a conceptual framework that creates
structure to the creation of a reflective landscape derived from practice. As Andrews points
out, although there have been a number of novel approaches to the understanding of spatial
features in nursing, there has as yet been no real consideration of a geography of nursing. The
work of Clandinin, however, has begun to address the concept of knowledge landscapes in
teaching. Secondly, the paper also constructs landscape as the place where visual arts,
literary arts and narrative intersect as a means to the prompting of, and representation of, the
process of reflection in professional practice. Theories of domestic and geographical space,
linked to artistry, image value and visual and literary arts are utilised to construct a framework
for a reflective landscape of practice.

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Reflective
10.1080/14623940701816667
CREP_A_281740.sgm
1462-3943
Original
Taylor
9102008
paul.mcintosh3@btinternet.com
PaulMcIntosh
00000February
and
&
Article
Francis
Practice
(print)/1470-1103
Francis
2008
(online)

Keywords: geography; image; landscape; space; reflection

Introduction
Human beings live within landscapes. These landscapes are fundamentally created through geography or architecture. One can drive through a landscape of forest, mountain and lakes, and feel
the sheer scale of this environment and its space, or equally one can gaze across the rooftops of a
cityscape and consider the achievement of its size. But geography also exists in other ways. It is
not solely an understanding of country and location or precipitation. It is a way of understanding
how human beings locate themselves within their world, how they find their way around it, and
what the spaces and objects within their world mean to them. Geography is as much about how
humans behave, think, communicate and work, as it is about the land itself. Human geography
considers the relationship between people and their environments, examining the nature of space
and place.
Adjunctive to this is architecture. Within architectural spaces there are those that are
constructed as public, and those that are constructed as private, such as working spaces, living
spaces, meeting spaces, spaces to exercise, learning spaces, and spaces to treat ill health, for
example. Within this, architecture considers form, function and aesthetics. Architecture manipulates existing space and creates new space, both purposefully and accidentally. The creation of
these spaces in turn creates both internal and external worlds. In their most literal sense, inside
spaces can be intimate or public, or both at one and the same time a hospital ward for instance.
Outside spaces place us within the vastness of a city or the countryside and its array of networks.
In these senses the concept of space is within our grasp, it is out there, and all around us. But
what does it mean when we talk about thinking space? Is the thinking space internal to us, or is
*Email: p.mcintosh@ucs.ac.uk
ISSN 1462-3943 print/ISSN 1470-1103 online
2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/14623940701816667
http://www.informaworld.com

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it something that oscillates between our external and internal world, making conscious the unconscious? It could be argued that many of us sleepwalk through our working day, and pay little
attention to the world around us and inside us. We dont necessarily recognise the significance of
the impact of our immediate surroundings, and the kind of attachments we have to them. Artists
and poets are by nature and training keen observers of their inner and outer worlds, and are able
to construct images and meaning from these observations. In order to define the imaginative
landscape it is therefore necessary to explore the intersection between the visual and literary arts
and human geography and architecture.
Connections to space, geography, architecture and landscape
So what is the link between space, place and understanding through reflection? Yi-Fu Tuan
(2003) discusses the idea that space and place are basic components of the lived world; we take
them for granted. When we think about them, however, they may assume unexpected meanings
and raise questions we have not thought to ask (p. 3). Tuan goes on to consider the relationship
between space and place, arguing that through experience, space becomes place as we become
familiar with it and ascribe value to it. Space is seen as flexible, while place is described as a
pause. The movement of space halts and its location is reconfigured as place. Places can be secure
and stable, whereas space can be perceived as open, free and threatening. Entering new spaces or
environments can feel threatening, and often feel overwhelming. Tuan suggests that as we
become acclimatised to these spaces, there develops a sense of security and familiarity, and we
seek out comfort as these spaces become places. Comfort comes from the everyday objects and
activities that make this our place. In opening up new spaces, through reflection, our place is at
once subject to potential for both greater comfort and threat. How these spaces are regarded is, in
part, due to perception. Tuan (1990) used the terms topophilia and topophobia to describe our
sense of affinity with, or aversion to, particular spaces.
The exposure of our self to new spaces is a requirement in professional practice. By this I
mean the process of reflecting on experience, and the testing of these experiences within our own
individual value bases and understanding. In this sense we become, as Della Fish (1998) suggests,
practitioner researchers, formulating questions based on observations either of our inner self, or
of things we have witnessed. These observations require some analysis or contextualisation
before we arrive at our new place, and in order to undertake this process, we have to apply imagination. In a foreword to the book New qualitative methodologies in health and social care
research, Williams (2004) considers that:
reality is an imaginative construction. And whether we approach reality through science, religion, literature, or history, we are imaginatively seeking something out, trying to grasp hold of
it. Of course in this process we need to collect evidence and develop methods for doing so: But the
evidence and the methods are not the reality. Reality is the sweep of the imagination in relation to the
evidence, the theories and arguments we develop for our interpretations. (Williams, 2004, p. xviii)

In this sense, Williams appears to be saying that imagery, perception and interpretation are
fundamental to what constitutes evidence, and imagination, evidence and perception are intertwined in the subjectivity we know as reality. While Williams comments are aimed within a
discussion on methods for the collection of research data, they apply equally to the process of
reflection utilised by the practitioner researcher.
If one is to explore imagination and reflection in relation to its form and representation, then
perhaps one way to do this is to utilise disciplines of form and shape, such as architecture. In
doing so, it becomes possible to identify a number of discourses of space which consequently
enter us into concepts of deconstruction, disjunction, simulation and purpose. Wigley (1993) for
instance, cites the work of Heidegger in how he addresses the way in which philosophy repeatedly

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and insistently describes itself as a kind of architecture. For example Kants Critique of pure
reason (1979) describes metaphysics as an edifice erected on secure foundations, and Kant is
critical of others in their attempts to complete speculative structures before enquiring whether
their foundations are reliable. As a result the role of metaphysics is constantly to search for the
Ground. Through this process, successive relaying of these foundations cannot stabilise and
preserve a single edifice. Rather, the foundations of the traditional edifice are eroded and
dismantled until the structure cracks open establishing the possibility of a different building. For
example, Kant having cleared the ground must reassess the load-bearing capacity and design of
the edifice (Wigley, 1993) in other words, to test out the metaphorical structure for its rigour.
Tschumi (1994) feels that: Etymologically, to define space means both to make space
distinct and to state the precise nature of space (p. 29). In making space distinct, Tschumi
asserts, one is literally determining boundaries, yet while these boundaries are conceived and
captured by the architect, they serve to create a new series of spaces and interplays between the
boundary and other objects occupying the wider space. In a technical rational form, the architect
sees the limits to his creation, but does not necessarily see the creation of other spaces to be filled.
The introduction of a linguistic dimension to human understanding serves to ask a number of
questions to this phenomenon; is space a condition or a formulation? Is there a relationship
between space and language can one read a space or landscape? These differentiations,
Tschumi defined as ideal space the product of mental processes, and real space the product
of social praxis. Although Tschumi describes this in relation to architecture, the idea of new
spaces being created when previous spaces become taken up is an intriguing one. In effect,
Tschumi tells us that once we come to understand something, it opens a new space to be filled
around that understanding.
For Bachelard (1994) understanding appears to be centred in the meanings within domestic
space, the things about us that create a feeling of home. Bachelard discusses the idea of habitation of our vital space, in accord with all the dialectics of life, how we take root, day after day in
a corner of the world (p. 4). For Bachelard, the house is a place of rest where images are created
as evidence of its values as an inhabited space. Imagination creates illusions of the house as reality
and virtuality, concrete and symbolic meanings created by thoughts and dreams. Memories and
images are associated, creating mutual deepening what Bachelard calls a community of
memory and image. In this sense, from Bachelards perspective, the house is not experienced on
a day-to-day basis, but through the threads of narratives and stories.
The connection between experience, memory and image is augmented through value. The
image itself has value, otherwise it would not be kept as memory, and the memory is located
within experiences of protection, comfort or anxiety, for instance. Memory and imagination has
solidity in us, but the articulation of these phenomena provides us with challenges. Bachelard uses
the term psychological elasticity of the image as a means to moving us at an unimaginable
depth (p. 6), and the means to psychological elasticity is through poetry. Edgar (2004) exemplifies the connection between imagery and poetry beautifully in his own prose as an introduction
to his text on imagework:
We are immersed in imagery. We have images of ourselves and images that we portray to the world.
We rehearse future action and decision by imagining how things would be if we did this or that. We
reflect on and evaluate the past through weighing up and sifting through our memories, just as with
a set of old photographs. We can read intensity of mental image as compelling us to act, believe
ourselves in love or to be at one with the divine. (p. 1)

The connection created here by Edgar on reading his text between home, where photographs
are stored, and images where memories and experiences are stored is an evocative one. The peering over of old photograph albums, the act of taking an old and favourite book from the shelf and
once again indulging in its text, the intellectual dialogue that transcends these texts as precursors

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to action as we take nourishment from them. These are examples of Bachelards construction of
poetic domestic space.
So is domestic space a place in the way it is described by Tuan (2003)?
There are clearly some obvious differences. Bachelards impressions of domestic space are to
do with intimacy and closed in-ness which go beyond familiarity. Tuans notion of place is not
located solely within domestic settings, but is connected to home attachment and a sense of
existence and exponential familiarity within certain environments. The question is: can we take
Bachelards notion of how intimate places are experienced through image value and place them
within Tuans concept of place? Tuan sees that we think of the house as home and place, but it is
the nature of the furnishings and internal components that evoke the images, rather than the structure itself. These can be touched, smelt, heard; it is the imperfections, chipped items of furniture,
the shadow of leaded windows cast on the chimney breast on a bright winters morning, that
create connections to experiences. Freya Stark (1948) writes that:
[In] smaller, more familiar things, memory weaves her strongest enchantments, holding us at her
mercy with some trifle, some echo, a tone of voice, a scent of tar and seaweed on the quaythis
surely is the meaning of home a place where every day is multiplied by all the days before it. (Stark,
cited in Tuan, 2003, p. 144)

In this sense, the link is clear with Bachelards thinking, where corners, wardrobes,
cupboards, etc, form the places for thoughts and echoes.
I have begun to concentrate on the notion of domestic place and space, and both Bachelard
and Tuan have cleverly, almost unwittingly, taken me down that path. The issue at stake for me
here though is whether their deliberations on house and home are transferable across environments. This is essentially because I am focusing on the nature of professional space and its landscape. These terms, place, space, the image value, the corners of rooms, shadows, smells, noises,
furnishings, have application in the workplace too. Events are experienced, memories are
captured, meaning is multiplied. Professional spaces and places resonate in the corridors of hospitals, health centres, universities and schools, just as they do in living spaces. However, when
viewing this from the professional space perspective, this should be with some caution, for
architecturally and experientially these spaces may be differently understood to domestic space.
To explore this further, Relph (1976) for instance, cited in Seamon (1996), discusses the
concepts of place and placelessness. In this work, he suggests that places can be either authentic or non-authentic. An authentic place is one which is experienced as a whole complex identity,
one in which there is an immersion in it and which is in constant use a neighbourhood or home
for instance. Inauthentic places, Relph (1976) suggests, are standardised landscapes, non-distinct
environments that make no recognition to the importance of place. Mass culture, central authority
and the desire for efficiency as an end in itself has, in Relphs view, eroded diverse and significant
places in the world, replacing them with anonymous spaces and exchangeable environments, and
this is what he terms placelessness. In considering the potential reflective places within
hospitals, schools and universities, perhaps it is important to take into account the homogeneity
of many of these types of environment where one could be in any of them due to their lack of
distinctive qualities, and in how that affects our ability to conceive reflectively within them.
In light of this, perhaps the concept of home and home attachment is worthy of transposition to be viewed as work and work connection utilising the concepts of image value and
image amplification. In effect, as Edgar (2004) suggests, this means a going back into the
images created in working life in order to develop a deeper understanding and wider perspective
of those emerging images.
In relation to human geography, the concept of space has a number of connotations. Gregory
(1994), in his chapter on modernity and the production of space, describes the perspective of

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Henri Lefebvre. Gregory argues that Lefebvres work sets out a matrix of authentic human life
based in everyday activities. In Anne Whiston Spirns (1998) The language of landscape, she
describes that landscape has all the features of language structure, formation, pattern, shape and
function. Landscape is pragmatic, poetic, rhetorical, polemical. Landscape is scene of life,
cultivated construction, carrier of meaning. It is language (p. 15). For Whiston Spirn, landscape
is the physical place of home, whilst the language of landscape is where the mind is situated. She
also explores the link between domestic space and the language of landscape. She refers to it as
the house of being, and comments on Heideggers tracing of the verb to dwell discovering that
the roots for to dwell, to build, and I am in High German are the same. The language of
landscape establishes the connection between a space and the people who dwell in it. Landscape
is evidence of dialogues and stories that found these connections. It can be read as text or as a map
which path or pattern of water to follow for instance.
Our appreciation of landscape is integrated within spoken language. We use metaphors
consistently to refer to situations and phenomena. We become rooted to the spot, we cannot see
the wood for the trees we have a huge mountain to climb, we are on cloud nine. These metaphors and activities create immediate connections between our self and our common dwelling
spaces. The professional spaces we inhabit also hold the same qualities. We use stories, and create
myths out of everyday activities, which in turn become cultural spaces within practices and
organisations professional and organisational metaphors. Secondly, the external landscape has
its own language and dialogues, and we borrow from it in order to articulate and explore our own
inner landscapes. Perhaps when we consider the notion of human experience, the exploration of
language and inner landscape its maps, topography and geography become of primary significance. Perhaps there is also a direct interplay between external (or material) and internal landscapes that causes a particular understanding of a particular professional space the classroom,
the whiteboard, the operating theatre, the lecture theatre, the clinic, the stories told in the staff
room or the canteen, as examples. By paying closer attention to what exists within the environments in which our professional practice takes place, and through exploring the significance of
what we find, we will increase our capacity to become landscape literate. How, for instance, do
we understand the nature of the lecture theatre with its regimented rows and lectern, or the sign
which says Do not resuscitate above a persons bed, or the CRASH trolley in the corner of the
ward, or a scheme of work for teaching? The more that these phenomena are explored it is perhaps
the internal landscape which becomes, in philosophical terms, the most real, for as Clandinin
(1986) notes:
images are seen as the mediator between the unconscious and conscious levels of being. What is
known at the unconscious level finds expression in a persons thought and actions through a persons
images. Images are thus seen as the source of inspiration, ideas, insight and meaning. (Clandinin,
1986, p. 17)

Being landscape literate offers us the potential for professional growth, and this is particularly
pertinent, given that Relphs (1976) discussion on placelessness indicates that as a result of
creating such anonymous environments, the professionals that work within them may possibly be
vicariously anonymised and displaced themselves.
So, we can see that professional landscapes exist as physical, material environments, but also
conceptually as professional knowledge landscapes. Clandinin and Connelly (1996) point out that
Conceptualizing a professional knowledge landscape provides a way to contextualize personal
practical knowledge (p. 24). My contention, in using the constructs of space, architecture, geography and landscape, is that if we can better understand the symbolism of these environments, and
the stories played out in them, we are in a better position to map out, as Clandinin and Connelly
(1996) suggest, our practical, professional and personal knowing.

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Bridging the geography/artistry gap


For the purpose of this paper, it is also necessary to look at the not only the analysis of geographical representation, but also at the construction of its representation. Perhaps a way into this is
through an arts-based approach. Fish (1998) discusses the idea that to enter into the traditions of
the artistic paradigm, the (practitioner) researcher does not need to create real quality art, such as
fiction or paintings. For her, it is more important to have an interest in artistry, being willing to
learn to think like (or more like) an artist, attempting various portrayals of practice, themselves
artistic investigations. It is not the quality of portrayals as art that are important, it is the quality
of insights across a number of drafts that capture practice, and the critical commentary on them.
For Fish, it is the sketching process itself that enables the researcher to discover why a subject has
made an impact, and to learn from or refine it. Sketchbooks often contain a number of attempts
at an element part of the process of problem solving a depiction. Portrayals of practice are not
an exact matter of fact, they are more of a capture of tone, of feeling, and of spirit.
Fish (1998) suggests that to see professional practice as artistry is a means to seeing its entire
character, and further suggests that professional practice is increasingly recognised in the context
of artistry, and the practitioner is seen as a maker of meanings, utilising language that comes
essentially from, and critical appreciation of, the arts. Fish splits this appreciation of the arts into
two components: (1) seeing and reading; and (2) watching and listening. Using literature, painting
and poetry as examples of medium, Fish (1998) explores storytelling, narration and imagery
utilising a range of interpretive practices which form the basis of the language of appreciation
with all its variations and subtleties. Within this framework she argues that from this point we are
able to explore meaning in, and formulate a response to, specific works of art. This response to
art, not unreasonably, suggests that to appreciate it, there must be a subject. From a professional
context this subject must come from practice. Fish (1998) focuses on the development of portraits
of practice in words, seeing the production of narratives as draft portraits in conjunction with
deliberations and reflective processes about them. Although these elements are intrinsically
linked, they illustrate both practices and thoughts on practice, developing a deeper and more
reflexive understanding of procedural and propositional knowledge. In more detail, working
drafts of one element may be necessary before refining them into a later painting. Key processes
may require scrutiny of the drafts, a critical consideration of the artistry of professional practice,
and an evaluation of the potential as the sketch evolves. Thus evolution may need consultation to
relevant theory, or to be placed back within context of the scene described before any final
portrayal of what has been seen and experienced is articulated. These working drawings are as
important as the final portrait. They are the anatomy of practice.
Developing and refining these working drawings into holistic practices can then be seen as
something organic, fluid, based on a jigsaw or theories of context, and to return to the language
of appreciation can be seen from portraiture (the process of adding to, layering or manipulating
medium), or sculptural (traditionally the art of taking away materials, such as stone or marble to
reveal an object) perspectives. Michealangelos sketches illustrate this perfectly; not only are
parchments scratched over and redrawn from varying angles, perspectives and materials, but he
leaves notes upon the pages, messages to himself regarding technique and accuracy (see anatomical studies of a leg and serving the Florentine Republic; Hughes, 1997). Our appreciation of
the subject therefore leads us through uncovering layers of knowledge and practices, revealing
meaning of the practices, or enables us to apply layers to the existing professional picture.
So what are the technical processes that support this method? The production of a narrative
(picture with words) is a technique familiar with practitioners through reflective diaries, etc, but
it is the analysis where practitioners fall down. Unwittingly or not, reflective models have become
mechanistic tools, complete with cycles and action plans. To understand the appreciation more

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fully of their practice, an alternative may be to take some of the concepts of reading art and
applying them to the subject matter.
Fish (1998) discusses the idea that artists provide others with a means of seeing, and this is
achieved through isolating and capturing interesting scenes, and accentuating the detail of these
so that interesting characteristics become clear. Edvard Munch talked of painting what he had
seen, not what he sees (Bischoff, 2000). In this sense, it is the capturing of a moment that stretches
beyond physical composition. As an example, in Munchs case a focus on the hands and faces of
the grieving whilst leaving spaces of blackness in between (see Figure 1, below). But it also forces
an examination of the relationships and interplays that may otherwise go unnoticed.
In such ways the painter can draw our attention to features of the visible world which we in our haste
and habit tend to miss; the painter does this not simply by noticing and recording, but by employing
the resources of the art-form to make such visible phenomena more apparent than it would otherwise
be. (Armstrong, 1996, pp. 7778)

Higgs and Titchen (2001) define artistry and creativity under three main domains; firstly
practitioner qualities, such as connoisseurship, bodily, emotional and spiritual intelligence,
attunement to self as examples; secondly practice skills, such as expert critical appreciation, ability to express observation, and the metacognitive skills used to balance the range of professional
knowledge in working with individuals for instance practical reasoning and intuition; and
thirdly creative imagination processes, such as imagining transformation, outcomes and creative
strategies for ourselves, others and in organisations. Creativity in practice, for Higgs and Titchen,
is therefore defined as the ability of the professional to be inventive and imaginative:

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Figure 1. The death bed, by Edvard Munch, 1895. Rasmus Meyer Collection. Bergen, Norway

(1) In creating new practices and contributing to the development of new kinds of professions, and
(2) Alongside the routine skills of everyday practice. (Higgs & Titchen, 2001, p. 275)

Figure 1. The death bed, by Edvard Munch, 1895. Rasmus Meyer Collection. Bergen, Norway

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From a semiotic perspective, Eco (2000) discusses the idea of the dynamical object. In this
construct there exists a quasi-mind that identifies a dynamical object, a part of the mind that
observes something, and then through a representational process produces an immediate object
what I am seeing. This in turn is translatable into a potentially infinite series of interpretants,
and which may eventually through an interpretative process come back to the dynamical object,
from which we make something of it. In this sense, Eco suggests that the dynamical object always
remains a thing in itself, but it requires something linguistic to articulate this thing, and capture it
as a moment. The use of poetry is a further way of semiotic capture. For instance, Seamus
Heaney (2004) writes that:
Poetry integrates the experience of a lifetime and assists in the overall process of maintaining
continuity and accommodating change. To put it another way, poems and rhymes, appeal to memory
and open a path towards future meaning.

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In this sense, poetry has the power to be transformative, and this power emerges out of the
choice of the words, the rhythms and patterns. My colleague Paul Keenan, a nurse and wellpublished poet, discusses in his teaching that:
Like Heaney (2004), I want therefore to speak about poetrys ability to renew and transfigure
experience in another pattern, about the good of this transfiguration and the worth of it. I also want
to speak about poetrys ability to accurately reflect and reconfirm experience, and its ability to help
reflective practitioners achieve authenticity in thinking and expressing. (Keenan, 2004)

The key to this is in the term authenticity, and how language can be used to create what is
authentic to the observers of events or phenomena what Eco (2000) describes as dynamical
objects.
So, in how the geographical/artistry gap is bridged, we can explore the use of language the
interpretive, metaphorical ways in which meanings are derived from how we represent our
homeland attachments, the language of landscape, poetics as a representation of authenticity
through language, and the visual representation of landscape as art. The use of techniques
described below may be of some benefit in how this is achieved.

Composition: The artists method of organising a subject, of deciding what to put in and
what to take out in order to make an effective picture. Because it contains the overall
conception of the picture, the composition can often tell us a lot about what the artist is
trying to communicate (Acton, 1997). For our purposes we may also be looking for certain
attributes to this composition; harmony and balance making relationships between
objects to create a satisfying whole, and rhythm and space between objects the interactions occurring in the foreground and background to the depiction, enhancing the structure
of the whole design.
Form: Creating a weighty physicality from the image, identifying with us a three-dimensional reality, and enabling us to sense weight and tension in it. The use of perspective in
the creation of space and an ability to convey a feeling of three dimensions. Form can be
tangible, as if you can reach out and touch it, or disintegrated, such as impressionist work
where you cannot be sure of clear divisions, but feel a sense of atmosphere, not just in the
product, but in how it may have been created, i.e., at speed or as a passing glance (Acton,
1997).
Space: Concerned with width, depth and distance surrounding objects, systems of perspective assist in creating a sense of volume which mimics the way the eye sees in three dimensions, such as objects which diminish in size appearing to recede. A second technique is to
provide greater detail in the objects to be at the fore of the image, and less in the smaller
objects in the background, blurring them in the process. The work of Cezanne and Picasso

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utilises spatial distortion, providing multiple viewpoint perspectives, enabling many viewpoints at the same time, and demonstrating the way in which angles of objects relate to one
another, rather than to an overall geometrical structure.
Tone: The ability to create a feeling of sensibility. Tone can be used to create a sense of
drama, lighting up some areas starkly and casting the rest in varying degrees of shade,
emphasising the drama of the narrative. Tone can also be used to express emotion, the
creation of intimacy within the subjects, feelings of immediacy and spontaneity, and the
creation of atmosphere.
Subject matter: All paintings require some interpretations of their subjects complimentary
to the purely visual elements. Knowledge of the historical and cultural context, where the
picture was originally placed and its function can assist us in the uncovering of layers of
meaning that exist below the surface. The types of subject can be broken down into broad
categories: narrative subjects, image making and contemplative enjoyment. Loosely
described, these relate to where the picture tells a story, the visual impact of the painting or
one which conveys a particular message, or finally of pure enjoyment rather than specific
meaning (Acton, 1997).

Summary
In this paper, I have tried to articulate the linkages between the nature of the literal working
spaces that we inhabit, and the ways in which concepts of these spaces can be explored internally as reflection through imagery, either visual or literary. The geography of our working and
professional worlds creates certain types of attachments for us to those worlds, and the way we
inhabit those spaces, and operate within them is, to a greater extent, a result of their design.
These spaces, in conjunction with our professional socialisations, co-create particular types of
language that further create metaphors for our practices. Working lives are constructed out of a
landscape of interchangeable environments, equipment, documentation, dialogue with others,
patient/client/student activity, protocols, codes of conduct, etc, and our identities in part result
from this landscape.
We exist in a world of images, visual, memory, metaphorical and language-enhanced. Yet we
often sleepwalk through the day unaware of the impact that these images could have on our
practice if we stopped and took stock of them, or shared them with others as a means to image
amplification through some form of creative medium. Fishs (1998) concept of the practitioner
researcher may support the dynamic process of image inquiry and the development of interpretive, creatively reflexive approaches to professional practice.
Finally we must consider the differing forms of ethical space that co-exist. Firstly, this form
of thinking, as a human inquiry methodology, suggests that it should be transformative, otherwise
there is no purpose to its existence. Secondly a question: How can we create physical ethical
spaces? By this I mean classrooms, hospital wards, clinics, whereby we, and those that enter
them, feel at home within them, have an affinity with them, so that they are beyond the purely
functional. These two forms of space are not mutually exclusive, but identifying them offers the
opportunity to explore the interplay between them through geographical and creative approaches.
Notes on contributor
Paul McIntosh is a Senior Teaching Practitioner in the Faculty of Health, Wellbeing and Science at University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, UK. His doctoral thesis focused on the use of visual, 3-dimensional, and literary imagery as a means to reflexivity in professional practice, and from this a new domain of action research
was considered to have been produced. He is co-founder of the Creative Methods Network, a collaboration
of academics and practitioners exploring the use of creativity in health and social care which can be found

78

P. McIntosh

at www.creativemethods.org.uk, and is currently writing a book for Routledge entitled Action Research
and Reflective Practice: Creative and Visual Methods to Facilitate Reflection and Learning, to be published
early 2009.

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