Assignment Three: Review Notes

General review notes

I had set aims to hit within my essay; these were:

–          Develop a balanced viewpoint, through thorough research,

–          Develop an understanding of my material, being bold enough to come to my own conclusions.

–          My subject is related to the areas I am studying; thus I can talk about it both practically and educationally, having had some experience in the chosen area.  This is mentioned in the OCA notes.

How successful have I been?

–          Every point which I have mentioned in my essay, has backing, weight to it.  Whether this is from films, interviews, magazine cuttings, books and online based research.  According to essay writing guidelines, it seems to be considered best to write an essay in the third person, although personal voice is of course allowed in balance.  Thus I made sure to write in this tone, without conjecture or opinion without basis.  Judgements have been made, yet in a considered and thought out manner.

–          I chose a subject area which related to the course, as The OCA guidelines suggested.  This enabled me to be better quipped in the beginning as it was a topic I was already thinking about.  The artists I chose had strong subject matter attached to them, which could be taken deeper than a surface overview.  I changed artists from my first proposal, as with one of them I felt there was not enough information to go on.  Thus I feel that the two I chose were the right ones for this particular essay.  I was able to become thoroughly researched, coming up with a lot of information, which I honed and paired down, to feed the research essay topic.  I now have a file of research which I can turn to again, should I look at this subject area.  I was able to come to my own considered conclusions, yet tried to convey this in the third person within my essay, so as to not seem too opinionated and not confuse the reader with third and first person, flipping between the two.

–          Reviewing my essay, I was able to write practically and educationally, without veering off my intended point of research.  These artists have a large history to go upon, thus it took careful decision making to hone down clean exact points, without all the extra flannel which would have sent my word count over the mark.

   How do I feel about my essay itself?

–          I am pleased with the tone and illustrations I have decided to use.

–          The illustrations have all been chosen for a reason, along with their caption.  No unnecessary “filling” material has been used.

–          I was able to keep to the theme and subject matter, without diverging onto other related topics, which would have confused readers.

–          Through thorough research to enlighten and discipline my education on my chosen subject matter, I feel that I have been able to come to the conclusions I set out to find within my body of writing.

–          Everything has backing in some form, nothing is based on nothing, no evidence as it were.

–          I have spoken critically at times, picking things apart, yet I have toned this down within the essay, to always get my point and opinion across, and solidly based on research rather than my own ideas.  I recognise this is not a magazine article, thus has to have appropriate style.

Have I achieved what I imagined within my essay content?  How do I feel about my findings?

As noted within my introduction, I was interested to find out obviously if it was possible to develop a sustainable practice in textiles.  This was with a special reference to myself and my own future.  Thus this was a practical topic as well as an educational one.  I was aware of each artists I chose to look at, but I did not have a deep understanding of their work and lives.  Thus I found it enlightening to see beneath their work and the core concepts which drive them.  I discovered a lot about what it takes to have a long career in this field.

I can visualise how it fits in with myself.

I chose to look at two artists, to create a balance.  If I had only looked at one, my essay may have become more of a showcase on an artist, rather than a topic.  I could of course have looked at more than two, however I was wary not to create too large a topic or subject matter.  Why?  Because too much information is actually a negative thing, as if used, it could become very confusing for the reader and the “point” may not have been found in the heap of names and artists etc.  Better to look at a honed down selection well.

I gleaned a wide range of opinions and writing styles, as I did not just obtain information written or spoken by the two artists involved, but rather found many articles written by Textile Curators and known authors, about the two artists.  This essay was all about looking “around” the subject matter, than forking off too much.

I had observed much in the past about Textiles and it seen in the Fine Art world.  This is obviously still an issue, a debate and certainly a loner essay than this one.  However I wanted to touch on this issue, which I have managed to do within my text.  It was important to not look at this as a whole issue, but in context with the artist’s I was looking at within my writing.  Thus this took the “heat” out of the subject, as I did not feel I needed to cover the whole expanse of the art/textiles debate in just 2,000 words, as it would have been too large a subject to glean quality from.

So yes, in retrospect I am happy with the essay and have learned much from the outcomes; such as how it is possible to keep artistic practice going.  I plan to keep looking at this subject as I work through the course, as it proves good learning for my own course in life.

Did I stick to my initial plans written in my Log Book introduction document?

Yes.  Unless there was a need to change.

Both artists were known previously to myself, thus I already had a good understanding of their work. However I wanted to look at their practice in a particular light, which meant researching “around” the subject matter and the artists themselves.

I needed not only to research the artist’s work and lives, but also the subject of textiles seen in fine art settings.

The bare bones of my plan looked like this:

  • Research / Visit / Gather
  • Organize findings
  • Make notes
  • Revisit all material and filter
  • Carry forward key parts
  • Begin to write first draft of all three parts: Introduction, Middle and Conclusion
  • Redraft, edit, and finish
  • Check over finally before sending to my tutor
  • Deal with tutor’s comments
  • Produce a finalised copy of my essay

You will see that I have covered all the stages above.

What evidence is there of this?

–          My Log Books

–          File containing all stages of information, drafts, research etc.

–          Final essay

Did I come against any problems or issues?

The OCA guides mention fear of writing.  Personally, because I enjoy writing, I was not scared to begin. However it is yet to be discovered how I achieve at this writing level and style.  Obviously this is formal learning, thus different from the style of writing I am used to.

I had a few concerns, such as:

–          What tenses to use

–          Third or first person

–          How “personal” a tone

–          How much of each reference to use, by this I don’t mean the quote but rather where I got it from.  I.e. ‘…….fine art’, admitted Kettle in a film for her part in COLLECT 2011, found on you tube.  How detailed does it need to be?

–          I noticed many essays are set out as:  Introduction, Middle, and Conclusion.  I personally, didn’t want to add this to my essay as it made the whole thing look so contrived.  However this may have to be altered if it is a necessary format wanted by assessors.

Through research into essay writing, I feel that I have answered most of my worries, apart from the last two, which I may need to change for assignment six, it all depends on my tutor’s opinion.

Did I use enough research resources and was there a wide variety of types?

One thing I noted as something I would like to highlight, is the value of books over simply internet based reading.  Much information is still not available on the internet and is only in published written material.  The downside I found of this, was that many books were simply not available without purchase.  My local Libraries were not helpful, so I ordered many I needed.  However they are valued resources and ones which I can turn to again over the course period.

The internet was a brilliant source for films on both artists.  Louise Gardiner has a well presented website with lots of links to her interviews on film.  She also lists all the magazines she has been in, often scanned copied pasted.  This was a useful resource, as many were no longer available to purchase.

A few well known Textile writers had articles on the internet about these artists, such as a writer who works for Selvedge magazine. Thus I was able to use highly educational articles to inform my research, not just visitor’s opinions or those not really in a place to be able to judge these artists or the issues within my essay.

Do I think the format I worked in was successful, i.e. the idea of an organised research file?

I spent a while buying folders to fit my purpose and style.  I wanted to create a happy medium between formal learning and my own style.

I chose this file as the colour suited my usual sketchbook standard and I knew I would be able to add sub sections, in order to create an orderly format.

You can see this in real form from the folder / file itself.

Organising things in this way, helped me to be quick to find points I needed, as they were all labelled and in the same place.

Thus for this particular piece of writing, my style fitted well.

You will see by viewing the file, that everything has been put in order and labelled for ease of access.

Is there anything I would do, to better educate myself to write essays in the future?

Continue to read as many books on the subject matter as possible, as mentioned previously, I have noted a strong difference in quality from just using the internet to then using books too. They are filled with quality information which you simply don’t find on the internet.  Places like Google books are great for odd exerts from books, but rarely stock the whole book online.

I personally find it much easier to use the literal book, which I can annotate (or bookmark pages).

Visit even more exhibitions, not just to investigate one thing, but visit everything so that I can round out my practice and have more topics to discuss.

It will be important to keep up to date with referencing and the Harvard style.  It is a complicated field and it can really become cumbersome.  Thus careful reading is needed to understand and be able to complete a reference sheet.  I feel that I have achieved this within my assignment three, however it’s something valuable to keep looking back on and learning about.  There are many “guides” online, however they can become confusing.  Thus I have chosen to stick to the standard UCA method, unless a question is not covered.

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