Art · MMT - Research · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

Edinburgh – A Visit to the Dovecot Studios

I never go to Edinburgh without making a visit to The Dovecot Studios, and as always, yesterday’s visit was wonderful. 

If you’ve never been I would highly recommend a visit, but go on a Thursday or Friday after 12 so you can climb the stairs to the viewing gallery and walk round looking down at the looms and work in progress of the Edinburgh master weavers. 

My friend Lindsay and I slowly completed a full circle of the gallery whilst a young lady and her Mom were having a tour of the rooms to discuss holding her wedding there, what an original idea, it’s a shame I’m already married! Down in the studio was a huge gun tufted rug being worked by Victoria Morton. The work required to complete this piece must be immense and the skill needed enviable, we were in awe of Victoria’s ability to translate a very complex abstract work of art into a beautiful and tactile object. 

This led us onto a discussion about ‘was this art or craft?’ We had the previous day been to an exhibition at the Fruitmarket by Mark Wallinger. The exhibition was definitely ‘art’ because it included paintings and conceptual pieces but I had been almost offended by the lack of work that had gone into the actual pieces, they were simply black paint slapped on canvas and a rather dull iPhone photograph collage and here lies the crux of our discussion. Is art about the object or the feelings it elicits?

Should art always be expected to challenge our feelings and views? Is it enough that it makes us go ‘what!’ or ‘grrh!’ Or ‘yuk!’? Should it not also make us go ‘wow!’? And can that sometimes just be a happy feeling of awe and delight? 

Where do traditional crafts fit in here? Where does the line between craft and art fall?  Previous research into Ptolemy Mann made her views on this very clear, Ptolemy states her weaving work is art and this is because of the skill required and it frustrates her that the artistic community cannot see that. 

Does the current contemporary art community have a level of elitism about it that demands that art should always be intellectually challenging? Is being pretty and attractive frowned upon? I wonder if their delicate egos have caused them to collectively agree that their work should elicit negative comments and that this was their intention all along so they do not have to work towards genuine positive feedback therefore protecting their inflated opinions of themselves. And worse still this allows them to look down and undermine the extensive work and skill that does into a piece of work that uses a craft technique as its medium. Thank god for Grayson Perry! 

So back to The Dovecot and it’s current exhibition, at the moment only one of the rooms are open, but although compact The Weavers Apprentice exhibition was very interesting.

In the centre of the room there was a loom set up with apprentice weaver Ben Hymer’s work, sometimes he is there demonstrating but not on the day we attended. Ben is working this rug from the front and the back which I found particularly fascinating.


It was very interesting to see a display of the design work that had gone into his piece Penelope. I like the fact that he worked the design from a character in a book and not a physical object.


The walls of the room were the back drop to a considered display of old and new rugs and tapestries completed at the gallery.

Art · MMT - Ex 2 - Rotational Accordion Pleats · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pjt1 - Folding and Crumpling · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Surface Distortion – Ex 2 – Rotational Accordian Pleats

Just a quick summary tonight about the first exercise I’ve selected to do for the first assignment from Mixed Media for Textiles.

Folding generally requires precision which is quite a challenge for me, so unfortunately my folds are not perfect, not yet anyway!

I started this exercise by digging out some papers that I liked, looking for a variety of textures. And I started with some trusty khadi paper.

I folded it like a fan, added some stitch and because I love to add colour I dipped it in some watered down Brusho pigment.

For a while I’ve had a notebook with pages for copying, like a receipt pad without the carbon paper and I really fancy folding the 2 sheets together to see how the lines of the folds looked when they were transferred.

The paper was far more pliable and I soon found myself playing with the folds making them even less precise and even.

I worked the 3 pieces together into one sample after randomly dipping and dripping paint onto the papers.

The pva glue I used to stick them down enabled me to manipulate and fix the folds.


This sample is very me, it reminds me of dragon lizards 🦎 and I like the way the added colour highlights the folds. This could easily become very addictive.

I really wanted to make some small folded fans but I didn’t feel that today I had the drive or the patience to make them and I was given the perfect get out by having, on my chaotic worktop some fairy cake cases with beautiful delicate folds. As an added delight I’d got some that had been used as ink and paint pots so we’re already delicately coloured.

Working with inspiration I’m still carrying from ATV I worked some snipped off pieces into a pile with tread.


Then, just because I dipped them in the Brusho paint and after some drying and manipulation I mounted them on a very old piece of paper that I painted way back on my first textile art class on Pointillism.

 

It was cheating and maybe one day I will actually fold some myself but I’m pleased with the results. There is lots of texture and variation in the colour. The mix of original dried colour and the newly dipped colour adds depth and interest. I even felt inspired to do a little drawing.


One of the things I like to do when working on a series of samples is to have an element of focus that ties the pieces together, such as colour, or materials, or a theme.

With this type of exercise this is difficult as you are an explorer looking for treasure and limiting yourself can hinder you by not letting you travel off map. 

I had originally thought I would tie these samples together by only using pages that are currently in altered books. I liked the idea of using papers that I had painted and distorted as the base to be folded. 

I’m glad I didn’t stick strictly to this plan and experimented with some different papers first but I couldn’t completely let the idea go and did make one sample with a painted page that I further distorted with sandpaper rubbing. And of course I dipped it too.


The end result is not totally satisfying, it started off looking very amateurish. Making me think of the paper lanterns we used to make as kids! It took some manipulating and tweaking to get it into a shape that I like. 


Although I’m not sure about the final shape but I do love the colours and the way the paint has worked with the original gesso and the sanding and pricking that I added today. 


Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Research · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Research – Paper Folding

And there was me thinking I wouldn’t find very much of interest on paper folding on Pinterest. 

How wrong could I be! I’ve had to stop pinning my head is spinning.

Here’s my board on Pinterest.

http://pin.it/PTsjQIk

Art · ATV - Part 5 - Building a collection · ATV - Reflections · Feedback from tutors · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

ATV – Assignment 5 – Capsule Collection – Feedback

Rebecca’s comments came as a huge relief after I’d really felt that I’d sent my capsule collection off unfinished. 

I’d aimed high with my intentions without enough thought to timescales, in hindsight I could have reined in my ideas but I’m still glad I didn’t, working on the garments was very interesting and they felt full of potential. 

Overall Comments

Well-done Sally for getting this work to me even though you feel this assignment is not yet complete. The first thing I want to advise you is that you shouldn’t make anymore work for this course. The final pieces you have made along with the development work are more than adequate for this level. The work for level 1 courses should be experimental and developmental and what you have sent is beyond this going into pieces ready for sale or exhibition. I suggest you conserve your time and energy – preparing the work for assessment and planning the next course. Remember you are only at the very beginning of your degree with two more units at level 1. I understand your feelings of knowing when a piece is finished and when to let go of a project, these are common amongst creative practitioners and why time frames are so important.  

 This section gave me the confidence to go ahead and officially enrol onto the next unit Mixed Media for Textiles.

The work you have sent me is professionally and cohesively organised. There is evidence you understand and use research material, drawing, reflective thinking and sample making to come to textile solutions. Your blog is well organised and articulate with analysis of both your research material and your own creative output.

I’ve highlighted in bold the comments from Rebecca that I’m focusing on as I go forward into MMT. 

  Demonstration of Creativity
This assignment clearly demonstrates you have understood and digested the previous four parts of this course. There is evidence you understand the value of using drawing and research material to inspire fresh work. The drawings and the textile samples are experimental with evidence of regular risk taking. They also show your ability to compose pleasing and meaningful compositions in adventurous colour palettes. The work shows you are able to make skilled judgements when deciding which samples to take forward. For example the design with a central yellow circle in print and collage. You go onto develop this in various fabric-stitched versions playing around with creating line, texture and form. This follows your line of thought as you reflect and adapt your ideas for future use. I suggest you continue to work in this way using reflection and the analysis of your out put to develop ideas and come to solutions. You have used many textile techniques and materials in this assignment in a consistently sensitive way. This attention to detail is very pleasing with interesting combinations like the putting together of soft and harsher materials. I suggest in future projects you consider using more unconventional textile materials. You will be introduced to some in the next course Mixed Media for Textiles

I better get over myself and my reluctance to draw more often. I do love using a thin pen but I’m going to have to expand my repartee and it’s not for lack of implements.

Drawing

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You have used drawing to inspire and develop ideas in this assignment using a range of media. These link beautifully with your developmental textile samples and the final more resolved work. I suggest you continue to work in this way and also add in using drawing as a tool for reflection by sketching your textile samples and final outcomes. Continue to broaden the range of drawing media you use and consider drawing at a much larger scale – especially when you intend to make large scale stitched work.  

I shall continue working with my research as before but I do need to develop my descriptive vocabulary, my range is very limited. I tend to think in pictures and without emojis and cartoons I’m a bit lost. I have tried some critique building exercises but they were looking at ways to make arguments for a view point. I don’t think I need to go that indepth yet I just need some better words. 

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

For this assignment you have looked at a wide variety of research material that is well organised on your learning log and your workbook alongside your creative process. This has assisted you in shaping the direction of your creativity and demonstrates the links you make between your sampling and the work of others. I suggest you continue to work in this way – making your research material work for you by analysing it carefully taking from it what you find interesting or useful and developing this in your own work. 

After peaking with my blog being highlighted in the 2015/16 Student Handbook I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it. I’ve really got to admit that it’s a brilliant tool and when I don’t blog I miss it and I never get the satisfying feeling of completion when I don’t review what I’ve done on here.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your online learning log is well set out and easy to navigate. There are a good number of images of your own work along with the work of others. I feel that you could develop the way you discuss and reflect on your own work more. I understand that self-criticism can be quite difficult but if you try to look at your own work the way you look at others this will give you the distance to be more detached. My feeling is you are very hard on yourself and that if this work belonged to someone else you would be more impressed. It is good to push yourself but also give yourself some praise and a pat on the back when you have made something pleasing. For example when you have created a pleasing sample or drawing go further than saying “I love these shapes”, attempt to understand why the shapes are so attractive and how you can develop this.  

So am I going to put my work in for assessment? It’s nerve wracking but I think I’m going to. I better get looking at the guidelines.

Pointers for assessment
• Reread your feedback forms to check you have used all the tutor suggestions

• Look at the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria to judge whether your work has met the requirements

• Refer to the assessment guidelines on the oca website, Research ▷ By Course Area ▷ Textiles ▷ scroll down to page 2 ▷ Assessment Guidelines: Textiles

• Aim to organize your work so that the assessor can see the five parts of the course clearly, that samples can be handled easily and your strongest work first