This is the first critical review I have had to do regarding my work thus far as a whole and it has taken me a few days to really think about how I wish to approach it in terms of focusing on my awareness of my achievements and also on how I will now move forward into Part 3. Overall these first two parts of the course have been ones of new techniques, new artists and new themes with some periods of frustration and some of almost wonderment as I discover new techniques or visual stimuli that I had not previously considered.
The Edmund de Waal interview right at the beginning of the course is one that has had a lasting effect on me – he believes that the craft world does not belong in any lagoon and that he believes in a world where craft is about making a mess or the simple task of making things whether you are in school, college or a studio and that yes his craft does very firmly belong in the visual arts world even though he is just as a potter as he himself states. I now firmly believe myself that as a textile student our textiles in whatever artistic form they take are deserved of being classed as art and belong in the visual arts world and this will form the basis of however I go forward.
If I now look back over the two parts of the course I will first mention the two exercises I really did without question struggle with starting at exercise 1.5 with the ‘action words’ as I tried to translate the words into paper manipulated images and this is one technique I am more than happy to not necessarily repeat although at the same time it is useful and the list of words are pinned on my noticeboard as inspiration. I also struggled with the collage piece at the end of exercise 2.6 as I tried to pull together the various elements of the exercise and concentrate on having the focus on either colour, shape or texture – I knew I wanted colour to be that primary focus but could not somehow demonstrate the swirling shapes I wanted to but I am fully aware that collage is not one of my strongest points and indeed I have described it in my blogs as a love-hate relationship.
My tutor feedback for assignment 2 made notes of thinking about composition and placement so that I do not necessarily think in a linear way when perhaps doing an exercise relating to music or when using a word to inspire marks – I need to think about my compositional elements and about space or pressure of the tool I am using. I am now aware that looking reflectively at both parts of the course I have been more concerned about getting a response to the exercises down on paper rather than about the aesthetic quality- if I take my tutors suggestions I could perhaps start in a corner of a page or the middle and not necessarily fill the page and this makes sense. The above image from Exercise 2.6 was thinking about drips seen on a sign post and was I feel my most successful in terms of mark making and aesthetic qualities. The drips move in different directions and hence I feel give a sense of energy and excitement but some artistic translations of words or textures may also create calmness and harmony or a sense of movement through the creation of different media or the aforesaid composition.
Overall I have found the majority of the exercises a combination of fascinating to do, challenging, thought provoking and as a whole really enjoyable and it is considerably harder to answer the 5 questions posed in the course material and to narrow down my thought processes and to answer each with one singular theme:
Which of the themes extracted from the de Waal article had the most personal resonance for you, and why? I am split between identity and new ways of thinking inspired by writing. Identity and labels really fascinated me both in terms of how many artists almost throw away labels and identify as mixed media or mixed discipline as they seek to challenge conventional or traditional labels but I was also fascinated and surprised to really enjoy the collage work regarding my own identity with the use of a photographic self portrait.
I also loved working with both the music and words – the individual action words were infuriating but using a poem or piece of prose as inspiration has serious personal resonance for me as I was able to choose something that really means something to me and I could interpret it into a visual piece of art work using calligraphy which I have loved for many years – this image is one of my trial sketches. The music exercise was also really exciting as I explored my own deafness and realised for the first time it could have a potential advantage as I have two levels of hearing rather than just one and hence I can interpret music or sounds in different ways.
If I had to pick one theme out of all of them I feel it would be place surprisingly – I found I really loved exploring my environment whether it was taking a journey or looking around my own home and garden – the textile piece shown is from exercise 1.7. I say surprisingly because I really enjoyed the other themes as they made me think carefully but this had shown me just how how much inspiration can be gained from looking around yourself and also reminds me of something my late Mum taught me … always look for the first flower or snowdrop of the year and take the time to stop and smell roses or other flowers so this theme does have the most personal resonance of all.
Was this also the theme that produced the best outcomes? Exercise 1.4 produced my favoured piece of work based on the Lord of the Rings poem.
If I think in terms of my tutor reports then mention must be made of my interpretation of ‘place’ with my textile piece of the shed as it was exciting and sensitive according to my tutor and the one in which I admit to shedding a few tears working and is perhaps the most personal.
What body of work stretched you most in terms of thinking? I detest collage work, and think that is now obvious, but with regards to using it as a technique to explore my identity I feel that is really enabled me to discover something about myself and now realise particularly with hindsight that this is something I may be able to use and take forward – it was a particularly useful as well as fun technique.
Which body of work stretched you most in terms of making? there is no question exercise 1.5 Action using verbs to inspire creativity through using paper folded, pleated, torn etc to portray the word -I really struggled with this exercise but do understand the principles behind it.
Which body of work did you enjoy creating the most? Exercise 1.4 – the poetry/prose exercise in which I used a combination of media to produce a piece based on a poem from Lord of the Rings as mentioned above and taking inspiration from Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave or the work on place in either Part 1 or Part 2 with the emphasis on my own environment despite the frustrations of the final collage in exercise 2.6. The exercise on place I did really enjoy as I was able to take note of colours, textures and patterns that surround me and that seem insignificant on a daily level.
The final part of this critical review is to choose a key theme for further development and after a period of deep thought I have chosen to develop Place with an emphasis on my garden as the inspiration as it is my sanctuary on so many levels and encompasses all the themes in one singular commonality – music (the birdsong), words either written or read out there, identity (gardening forms a major part of my identity), personal experience (my late Mum was a keen gardener), labels (my various identities) and of course place itself.
Finally regarding what I regard as the key pieces of visual research from Part 2 I feel the photography of the accidental patterns were really interesting combined with taking the rubbings of the various textures. I am also inclined to add the importance of music which in the case of my ‘place’ would encompass the bird song – sound will now continue to be a key part of my research and notes. Lastly the line drawing exercises right at the beginning of Part 2 were frustrating but also useful in that I looked closely at what I was drawing so as an exercise to focus my eye and my mind it is one I wish to develop throughout this next part of the course.
Overall these two parts of the course have given me a new selection of techniques and tools which I feel I can move forward with into the next assignments and develop further.