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MMT – Pt5 – Final Project – Sampling

Usually sampling means testing a technique or experimental way of making an item, in this instance I have modified that to mean experimenting with a way of making an imagining real. I didn’t actually make anything new, I used samples from earlier parts of MMT but I did take them outside to experiment with the vision I have of fitting my future pieces into a specific environment.

I wanted to get an feel for sizing; will I need to make large pieces to get the right effect? How does the natural light impact and how can I work with it to take photographs that will translate well at assessment? Have I got the confidence to stand out in the open making art? And, the really difficult one, does my idea have potential, does it work?

I decided not to ‘make’ my samples in the venue that I have chosen for the final pieces; I didn’t want to over use the place and lose the magic of anticipation. If my samples work then I want to be enthused not left feeling that I’d done it all before.

In the end I went to Haughmond Hill on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. I walked for a good long while with my rucksack of samples, looking for a suitable spot. I wanted somewhere that was already enchanting, somewhere slightly out of the ordinary.

Finally after much searching and a stop for a rest I thought, bugger it! Just have a go!!

On the hill there is a lovely lookout with some very pleasing stone obelisks. I had a play with placing one of my wrappings on and in one of the stones.

This was fine but it’s more using the backdrop to better display the piece rather than the environment being part of the art work.

I continued walking, with 2 very happy dogs; they love the walk at Haughmond and found a small grove of trees I quite liked. Here I tested some different ways of placing the wrapping amongst the many branches, in the final pieces I would like the wrapping to include and be intertwined with the actual branches.

Light was a huge problem; shadows would almost obliterate the wrapping and it was difficult to find the exact place where there was sufficient contrast of sunshine to shadow and tree (natural) colour to the brights of the ribbons and balloons.

Careful selection of a site for the final piece will be required and the use of photo editing to enhance the resulting images.

I continued on looking vainly for the root of a fallen tree, in the end I came across a tree with a big section gouged out just above the root. There were lots of little crevices and hook like protrusions to work with.

First I tested out placing the joined trash. My plan (vision) is to place similar item in the twists of a tree root to replicate the images I see, often when driving, of takeaway cartons that have been deliberately thrown from car windows or carelessly lost by being blown out of over loaded bin and off picnic tables that have finally been trapped by hedgerows and tree roots.

Here the contrasts of natural/manmade worked really well. The items that I added to the cans and cartons are to replicate the way that nature soon tries to subsume these alien items into its world; plants grow up through the gaps, shots push through and seeds and fallen leaves fill the wells of the cups and tubs.

If I decide to continue with this idea them I would like to add more natural embellishments.

The wrappings worked much better in this place, they slotted into the gaps and started to looked like they were part of the backdrop. That sense of them having growth there rather than placed there was starting to develop.

I particularly liked this image with the balloon wrapping fitting almost flush into this gap but I have decided that this idea still works best in the jumbling twists and turns of tree branches.

This little hanging that’d bought as an after thought also worked well with some good contrasts. I’ve still not decided if it’s going to make it into the final pieces, that I’m still ruminating on.

The final wrapping is the most beautiful and that surprised me. I thought I was looking for contrasts; the shock of the plastic against the beauty of tree bark and leaves. That’s certainly what works for my brief, it is what I’m aiming for, but regards beauty this placing is the one that works best. The result is more subtle, more pleasing to the eye.

The dilemma now is beauty over brief? Aesthetic over impact? Can I balance the 2 things? That’s the challenge here. My message is that nature can and will subsume, breakdown and eventually eliminate our thoughtless littering and tipping and she’ll do it beautifully. But and this is a huge but, at what cost? At what point does the natural world become over stretched and worn out by this constant bombardment? When does it become so chocked that it can’t function as it should and it turns all eyes onto eliminating and subsuming these alien invaders, will we survive through this? When the water is poisonous to us, but nature has evolved to deal with it; through the creation of new species that can thrive in tough places but we haven’t kept up or evolved in time. We depend on this environment as it is, we need it to survive so why are we hell bend on draining, covering, littering and raping it to the point of breakdown, it’s beyond me.

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MMT – Pt5 – Final Piece – Making a Plan – Rough Draft

Drawing? It’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘can I?’, ‘can’t I?’ stresses of drawing. But, when you start looking you soon see that many of the great sculpture’s and architects start their designs with very simple, energetic and gestural sketches.

I first came across this on a visit to the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and my first introduction to the architect Frank Gehry.

Inspired by Gehry’s very expressive early design sketches, I researched a small collection of designer/makers that used similar techniques and even had a go myself at translating some of my ideas into quick, simple renditions of how I envisage my final piece(s) to be.

Art · MMT - Part 5 - Final Project · MMT - Pt5 - Stage 3 - Sample Making · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt5 – Final Piece – Making A Plan – Mindmap

I find it very difficult to work on a piece, be it a sample, experiment or resolved when I don’t have a theme. I like to have to be making a response, it helps me if I have an over arching subject to return to for inspiration and reference. It’s very on trend at the moment to be concerned about rubbish, particularly plastic waste.

Every day I’m presented with more examples of man’s invasive effect on his/her environment and every day I worry and mither about what I am doing to contribute to this and what I can do to help reduce my plastic use and general wastefulness. And more often than not I fail miserably to do anything even vaguely significant. And, this got me thinking about the waste that is caused through general carelessness and general ignorance; balloons, bags and papers caught by a breeze and blown away, the full pop bag left on the pathway to be collected later and then forgotten (my husbands personal bug bear). Just by virtue of the sheer amount of disposable items that we use on a day to day basis there is going to be litter blown into hedges, grass verges and tree tops.

As I ruminated on this and set about matching the places I had identified in Attingham Park and the possible art installations I also matched them to examples of general littering that I see on a day-to-day basis. Some of these I labelled as (in general)caused by carelessness and some I labelled intentional.

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MMT – Pt5 – Final Piece – Mentor Session

‘For good ideas and true innovation you need human interaction, conflict, action, debate” Margaret Hefferman.

A very good friend came round today to help me review all of the work I’ve done so far for MMT and to mentor me as I develop my design ideas.

The first parameter that we set was ‘sifting and syphoning’. My thought processes must work like a funnel. I must focus, focus, focus! Almost like a family tree in reverse.

As I talked about my ideas Anne pointed me towards the work of Andy Goldsworthy and I will be researching him in more detail. At this point not looking at anyone else – focus!

Then we looked at my work and identified the samples I’d worked on during MMT that had really resonated with me. The ones that absorbed me, that made me lose time and spoke to my soul.  And these techniques I will concentrate on, no deviation – focus!

We looked at the photographs I’d taken in Attingham Park and discussed how I could marry the most interesting settings with the selected techniques.

Finally we talked about how I can draw these 2 things together and work the ideas up into a considered and cohesive series/body of work.

Following this discussion, many thanks to Anne, I wrote these notes.


Narrative – Eco vs Ego, how humans effect the landscape, this planet will subsume the plastics but is the damage done along the way justified? Trauma? Even manmade comes originally from the earth.

Influences – Andrew Goldsworthy, look at how he works in the environment and his views on decay and change, and natural and manmade.

Visual Images – Contrasts, green & brown muted colours. I will develop this with my own ‘natural’ elements and then incorporate bright synthetics like balloons, takeaway cartons and bold fabrics.

Select – 5 visual locations/5 techniques, each different but selected from the broad reach of the body of work produced from the MMT exercises. These need to reflect the theme and relate to the landscape in some way – Focus!



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MMT – Pt5 – Final Piece – Research Visit

Attingham Park Research Visit Notes

Large amount of woodland, easily accessible but very busy.


Historic venue, very well maintained and has hosted sculpture events in the past. Including How to Survive in the Coming Bad Years,  This was a large structure built by artist’s Heather Peak and Ivan Morison made out of mud. Remnants of this building still remain in the park.


Plenty of fallen and cut down branches and interesting hollows and backdrops for displaying/complementing my potential art pieces.

Lots of interesting shadows but not a huge amount of variation in the colour and the shapes of the natural environment.

It’s gentle, cosy and comforting, there is some drama created by the tall trees and the density of the plant growth.

It would be difficult to work with so many people using the park, permission would be needed to go into the more secluded areas.

Colours are predominately green and brown with blue sky so would provide a consistent back drop to bright flashes of colour. A less natural composition in my pieces would probably work best.

Could rubbish be collected from a nearby location and then included in the work to highlight the choking effect of plastic on our natural environments. Our motorway slip roads are full of abandoned plastic, Juxtaposition? Ring-fencing nature whilst all around the plastic mess builds, or is this too obvious? A little hackneyed?

The environment is already creating it’s own wraps and structural constructs.

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Part 4 – Reflecting on Feedback

I was hoping to move quickly onto the final part of MMT but I’m not finding it easy decide what to take forward from what I have done so far and my latest feedback on Part 4 has sent me into even more confusion.

Faye’s immediate comments were very positive, far more so than my own assessment of what I’d done and therein lies my problem.

“That said, once again, you failed to recognise successes enough and drive even the tiniest idea further”

What is going on in my brain, am I too focused on completing the exercises just driving forward just to get it done? Is the statement true? What ideas am I missing and why do I feel that I’m doing plenty.  Am I working hard but in the wrong direction? or on the wrong things?

During the early parts of MMT I did take my ideas further but I had to stop experimenting or I would never have got further than ‘joining’. But even at this stage my tutor didn’t think I was experimenting enough. I don’t want to get into a review of the course materials but I had felt at that point that I’d gone far further than the course brief had required.

“….but you should now be at the stage where you see the potential in your ideas and WANT to see how they might be investigated further”

I feel trapped, stuck in the ‘how do I know (recognise) what I don’t know?’ I’ve tried to find articles, teachings or explanations of how to assess what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. There are practical explanations where you look at balance, conflict, contrast based on specific criterian. Then there are more emotional guidelines where you are guided by feelings of interest, instinct and passion.

Most of MMT has left me empty. Apart from some of the early macabre folded papers and the snapped plaster casts nothing I’ve done has made me feel anything much more than disappointed. I haven’t wanted to see then taken any further.

At this precise moment I feel like I’m begging for approval to carry on as I am, I want someone to pat me on the head and say ‘there, there it’s all okay, you’re brilliant, don’t worry’ and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we’ve been here before. For heaven’s sake why can’t I get over this.

“Extract strengths more and try to become aware of elements that really work”

Is it because it’s a fact that nothing in MMT has raised any passion or interest in me? Or is it because I don’t have confidence in my skills and abilities to take these samples any further. What am I failing to see here?

“I definitely, definitely want to see a range of messy, free, uninhibited samples, but I hope also to see even just a few pieces that show this recognition and investigation”

This feels to me just a little bit unfair, I have lots more work but I have been working towards only sending a selection of my ‘best’ work to my tutor. The last time I sent everything it was such a huge amount that I still haven’t received it back from my tutor and that was 3 assignments ago.

Is it me then? Am I failing to show/demonstrate what I’ve done? Do I need to streamline my approach, focus on some small part of each sample and work in a linear way from sample 1, building on a single attribute and testing that?

Could it be that I’m following the Stages as laid out too robotically? At Stage 2 (sampling) I make lots of samples and record (probably not enough) the outcomes and then move onto Stage 4 – Sorting. Maybe I’m just not reading, or ‘getting’ this module?

This is another example of me not understanding the instructions:

“It would be great to see you explore combining other line qualities into your prints (stitch, collage, pen etc)”

The last intruction in Part 4, exercise 3 – the final one says ‘Once you’ve printed with your first block, record what you’ve learned and move on to making the next until you’ve printed with four collage blocks. If you’re feeling confident, consider using any of the monoprinting techniques to enhance these final collage block prints’. In Stage 3, clearly after the making of the samples it asks you to consider ideas that you may want to develop further. It doesn’t say do them.

I am already over the alocated time for this whole module and I still have another final part to complete and that’s with the added presure of the final Level 1 deadline breathing down my neck and a whole 3rd module still to do. Am I moaning and making platitudes or am I really not up to this.

“…..or see the value of how they look in a digital format”

This is something I always do, maybe less that this stage but cutting, chopping and changing/editing my work using my iPhone and iPad is instinctive but maybe this time Ive been guilty of hiding this work on my Instagram feed and not printing out the results or adding the results to my blog.

As you might have gathered, I really feel a little bit lost at the moment. I don’t know how to review my work with an impassive, professional eye. I do not know how to prioritise what I have to do.

I do feel like I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve used materials and techniques that I never would have considered  before and I’ve created a workroom full of samples but is that enough? Do I have the academic, artistic brain chemistry to recognise and develop the potential of any of my work?

Will the penny ever drop?

“You definitely can do this Sally, you just need the penny to drop about recognising your strengths and you will be away”

At this point I just feel like giving it all up. I feel like I have followed the course as it’s laid out and that within me I have learnt anything about how to approach my work and how to take it further. The feedback on my first project is the same as the last.

Am I that irritating contestant on one of those challenge/bake off/masterchef type programs that just isn’t listening? Have I totally missed the point of this module all together? Am I trying to be a general when I’m clearly only foot soldier material?

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OCA – Developmental Sketchbook Day

Just home after a fabulous day at Manchester Art Gallery with OCA tutor Priscilla Edwards.

I’m really hoping that OCA will hold more of these types of days. It was an excellent mix of gallery visit and practical workshop.

It all began with an hour spent looking at the Kate Haywood exhibition with our sketchbooks making marks and recording the elements and attributes of the pieces that appealed to us personally.

The space was small but that didn’t stop us from spreading out and frantically scribbling away!

Kate has used bold shapes for this body of work, expressed in a very limited colour palette which has been very sensitivity hung and displayed against solid walls of bold colours. The lighting was very subtle because of this the pieces created some beautiful shadows.

In my sketches I sought to capture some of the shapes and their surroundings using quick free drawing and then more solid renditions of the negative spaces.

Following on from this session we returned to the on site art studio to create a variety of manipulated and decorated papers using not just the materials we had bought with us but also with a variety of tools kindly brought along by Priscilla.

The process of painting paper with wax and then folding, crinkling and handling was something I really enjoyed.

When I coupled this with back drawn mono printing it gave me a couple of interesting pieces, folding the wax added some strong lines and interesting contrasts. Puncturing the papers creates delicate circles that I used to break up the dramatic vertical lines.

Just in case we were starting to get too comfortable Priscilla asked us to select one our papers, to rip it into three and then swap 2 of these with 2 of our companions.

This gave us the basis for our first design sample.

I hadn’t got any glue (I did borrow some Pritt – thanks Ros) or any scissors but I did have a craft knife, but no cutting board so making the shapes was quite a challenge. Ros kindly let me use her scissors but I did try to make my circles with a knife.

Our next challenge was to make a sample with an edge as the guiding principle.

The yellow paper in this piece is very delicate and the wax totally changed it’s essential properties. It made it easy to rip and to fold. It now holds its shape rather than just simply bouncing back like very soft fabric.

My 3rd sample is based on the T shapes that Kate had handing down from a collection of interlinked circles. It’s my most representative piece and the one I like the least.

Luckily I like layering and the new shapes created by mismatching the circles.

It looks better on its side because the eye is drawn to the circles and they are complimented rather than over shadowed by the square.

Close up there are some pleasant lines; random and web like, and then some gently layered circles.

Finally we made a 3D or reversible piece.

This structure creates very nice shadows and has a very satisfying tactile quality when handled.

I would like to redo the wire couplings, they are a little scrappy and I think they will complement the waxed paper and fabric better if slightly thicker and smoother.

In conclusion this was an excellently creative and productive day.

It was brilliantly presented and guided by Priscilla and I whole heartedly hope that OCA will approve more similar days.


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MMT – Pt5 – Final Piece – Initial Design Idea

Test the idea of making a single or multiple wrapped constructs in a natural environment, possibly Attingham Park. Using a mixture of objects found and collected within the park and objects I have gathered or prepared in advance.

Make it aesthetically pleasing by working with the natural backdrop, adding splashes of contrasting colour and the element of surprise and drama by including alien manmade elements.

Work in response to the current issues of plastic waste building up in our natural spaces and how we and nature are going to adapt and react to this.

Will our unspoilt areas become ring fenced alien environments, visited like zoos and only for those that can pay as all around we allow the rest of the world to fill up with litter and become a huge dust bin, will nature let this happen? or will it subsume all those discarded fast food wrappers into its habitats and evolve, finding ways to thrive despite our best efforts to hold it back.