This is the first critical review I have had to do regarding my work and it has taken me a few days to really think about how I wish to approach it in terms of focussing my awareness on my achievements and also on how I will now move forward into Part 3. Overall the 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 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 aforesaid arts visual world and this will form the basis of however I go forward with my own work.
If I now look back over the two parts of the course I will first mention the two exercises I really struggled with – starting at exercise 1.5 with the ‘action words’. 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 also very useful and the list of words are pinned onto my noticeboard for future 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 the primary focus but could not somehow demonstrate the swirling shapes I desired 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 3 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 the 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 total sense.
This image from exercise 2.6 was thinking about drips seen on a sign post and the piece of work I felt was my most success 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 work through, challenging, thought provoking and as a whole enjoyable and it is considerably harder than I expected to answer the 5 questions posed in the course material and to narrow my thought processes or to answer each one with a 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 in terms of how many artists attempt to dispense with labels and identity through mixed media or mixed discipline work as they seek to challenge convention or traditional labels. I was also fascinated and surprised to actually enjoy collage work as I sought to explore my own identity with the use of a photographic self-portrait.
I also found myself really loving working with both music and words – the individual action words were infuriating but using a poem or piece of prose as inspiration has huge personal resonance for me as I was able to choose something that really meant something to me in terms of emotional impact and which I could then interpret it into a visual work of art using calligraphy, which I have loved for many years. The image shown to illustrate this point is one of my trial sketches. The music exercise was also really exciting as I was able to explore my own deafness which resulted in a realisation that it could have a potential advantage as I have two levels of hearing as opposed to just one due to me using hearing aids and hence I can interpret music or sounds in a variety of ways.
If I had to pick one theme out of all of them then I feel it would surprising be Place as I discovered a love of exploring my own environment, whether taking a journey or looking around my own home and garden and how my environment could provide inspiration and experimental work – the textile piece shown is from exercise 1.7. I do say ‘surprising’ due to the fact I really enjoyed the other themes as they made me think very carefully but the theme of place showed me how much inspiration could be found in your immediate surroundings and reminds me of something my late Mum taught me – always look for the first flower or snowdrop of the year and to also take the time to stop and smell the roses so this theme also becomes an exploration of my own identity with great personal resonance.
Was this also the theme that produced the best outcomes? Exercise 1.4, Words, produced my favoured piece of work which was based on a poem from Lord of the Rings. I feel this is my strongest piece of work in terms of aesthetic qualities and overall composition elements and also in terms of the interpretation of the theme.
If I think, however, in terms of my tutor reports then mention must be made of my interpretation of the theme of Place with my textile piece of work based on the shed. This particular piece of work was deemed the most exciting and sensitive piece of work in terms of theme and sensitivity of my use of materials – it is also the piece in which I admit to shedding a few tears over due to its back-story and hence is also the most personal.
What body of work stretched you most in terms of thinking? I detest collage work, as I think is now obvious, but with regards to using it as a technique to explore my identity I feel that it has really enabled me to discover something about myself and now understand, particularly with hindsight, that this is something that I will be able to take forward with future work.
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 words caused me great consternation although I also fully appreciate and under the principles behind it.
Which body of work did you enjoy creating the most? Exercise 1.4 Poetry, Prose, Lyrics – I used a combination of media to produce a piece based on a poem from Lord of the Rings as mentioned above and took inspiration from Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave. I also enjoyed 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 although I was also able to take note of the colours, textures and patterns that surround me but which 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 Place with an emphasis on my garden as the inspiration as it is my sanctuary on so many levels and encompasses all the themes together in one commonality – music (birdsong), words either written or read when I out sat at the picnic bench, identity in terms of the fact gardening is a major part of who I am, personal experience, labels with the various parts of my own identity and of course place itself.
Finally regarding what I feel are the key pieces of visual research from Part 2 I feel the photograph 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 theme on Place would encompass birdsong – sound will now continue to be a 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 in order to focus my eye and my mind – this is an exercise I do wish to develop either in the next part of the course or in future work.
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 assignment and develop