Pum Dunbar - The Play of Parts
The Project Ability artist discusses Asperger's, art therapy and philosophy
What made you want to be an artist?
I don’t think I ever wanted to be an artist. When I went to university to study philosophy I discovered just how strange and abstract a subject it is. I craved a practical and visible form of literal activity, engagement with the world of real structures rather than ideas.
Philosophy is a major strand in your work. Are your inspirations mainly aesthetic or intellectual?
It’s a negotiation between these two. The aesthetic is a form of synthesis, it is often completely unconscious until I can stand back and see what I am saying. My art grows out of this unconscious and a need to make manifest. The problem I had with philosophy as a 20-year-old student was that I had absolutely no way to digest ideas in their abstract form, nothing to hold onto, it drove me to despair and it was at this time I began painting.
What drew you to Project Ability?
I have Asperger’s and I painted for a number of years in the Project Ability studios, which provided me with materials and a safe space where I could paint. Later in 2000 I began training as an art therapist but I didn’t complete my training, because after two years I discovered that it didn’t matter how proficient I was at understanding the landscape of psychotherapy, I needed to understand myself and learn how to have real relationships with myself, the world and others.
Can you tell us about your next project?
I have been running a research project as part of my residency at Project Ability looking at the relationship between the creative process and sense of self in six adults with autism / Asperger’s. I will be releasing the findings and outcomes of this research in July.
Pum Dunbar: the Play of Parts, Project Ability, Glasgow, until Sat 18 Jun.