‘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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
So what did I really enjoy:
The theme I have identified as emerging from this work is one of contrast, particularly of tone and of choice of materials.
My intention with this final project is to investigate and experiment further with these contrasts to develop a considered approach to bringing together natural and manmade elements using some of the techniques of joining and wrapping that I have discovered over the last 12 months.
This has been one tough module. Monoprinting and especially collatype printing did not come easy to me. It was messy and I didn’t like the way that I had very little control over the final outcome. Maybe with time I would have found better ways to make it work for me, I like using stencils and overprinting and I was satisfied with the results.
I’m finding it very difficult to assess what I have done and comment on where is fits against the standards for a degree level course. I would be more than happy if I was submitting the work for a GCSE and I’d be satisfied if it was being assessed for an A’Level course but for HE4? Am I really showing that I am stretching myself sufficiently, is there evidence of enough consideration, expertise and inspiration for this to be called degree level? I’m not sure, not sure at all.
There are some pieces that I would consider framing, is that a good marker?
There are some that I feel have balance and energy, is that enough?
And where in all of this is the link to textiles? I have done some printing on fabric but almost as an after thought. Should I have taken this on and developed the fabric prints more? would that have left me feeling more satisified and feeling that I had pushed the boundries more with this assignment?
Time and, most significantly lack of time, has been a crucial factor with the last 2 parts of MMT. I am running out of it basically. When I started ATV we had 5 years to complete all of the level 1 courses and I was slow to get moving and it took me 2 years to finish it all. The overall time allowed now is 4 years for level 1 and this March saw my 3 year anniversary and I’ve still got MMT to finish and Ideas and Processes to complete. I have not excuse for this other than a busy life so I cant see me qualifying for any extensions.
Now I’m struggling with moving forward, reviewing the whole of MMT and deciding on a final piece. It’s a classic case of being swamped by the past and fazzed by the future.
It’s been during this module, Mixed Media for Textiles that I’ve started being far more selective about what I send off to my tutor. My natural desire is to include everything, just in case I’ve missed a gem when sorting and selecting. I knew that I needed to improve my skills in selection and to accept that, even the honed down amount of work I am sending is still a substantial piece of work.
These are the pieces that I’ve chosen and I have displayed them in a sketchbook. They are only tagged into the book and not stuck down so that both sides of the prints can be viewed.
Monoprint with Mark Making
Monoprinting with aluminium foil as a mark making tool
Water colour drawn monoprints
Oil paint drawn monoprints
Single layered stencil monoprints
Light over dark layered stencil monoprints
Multiple Layer Stencil Monoprint
Block Collage Print
Silicon block print
Photograph Collage Print
Paper and cord collatype print
Sticker collage prints
Leaf Skeleton Collatyte Print
I went back to simply practising and testing the collage block technique for the final 4 prints.
What didn’t work:
It was the print made with pre-cut foam pieces that made the best quality print and I would be tempted to use foam sheets if I ever make a collage print again.
What I’ve learnt: