Option 1: Working from artefacts: Assignment Four: Creating a personal archive: Project 1: Review (500 word)

I found the prospect of this project exciting.  I had no definite ideas to source, thus it has come about in an organic manner rather than a staged one.  This was liberating in a sense, yet in another way felt too “open”, where would I begin, how much to include and saturate myself with?  I have made a source book, which scrapbooks and collates imagery, research and written notes.  I separated it, by first working on one side, collecting together family history; then I flipped it over to look at concerns within my own life, my “personal” history.  I view this book as a springboard, a foundation, where I can display a lot of information to pick and choose from.  From this amalgamation of material, I began to isolate my strongest ideas to carry forward.  One comment my tutor made a few months ago, was to not develop every idea.  Thus I was selective and chose only a few to ponder upon. 

Summing up this project as a whole, I have found myself taking much time to think, at times I felt that I was spending too much time thinking and researching and not enough “doing”.  Yet I realise that I needed to take time to reflect and cumulate my concepts, really mull things over in a structured and conscious way.  This will lead me to better results in the end, just maybe less of them and more focused.

I began my research looking at what was around me, such as links with my father, mother and grandparents.  Many an idea was written down, for example I first selected a non-relative Blanche to research, but then dissolved this idea as it didn’t feel like I had enough information to pursue.  Other initial ideas brought dead ends, such as my great grandmother and her links to the department store Fenwicks.  On reflection, times when initial concepts brought no results, were actually a positive experience, as it automatically honed down my search areas.

 I was able to branch out and visit a selection of museums and art galleries, mainly on a local scale; yet diverse in style, so that I could get a rounded out viewing experience.  Museums which proved too difficult to get to within my research time period, were viewed online, such as The Victoria and Albert and The British Museum.  It concerned me that I could not view the objects seen on the online collections in person, in order to visualise scale.  However I made sure to observe similar objects in museums near to myself, so that I could have a relation to scale in my mind.

I found the visual display of my archive the hardest part to decide on.  In order to combat this, I took care to observe display / presentation methods in museums and galleries I visited.  I took pictures and collated these along with any images I found online, with notes on a mood board.  Because a lot of my archive material is in image form, my archive collation did not really lend itself to traditional display, thus you will see a few variations through my work.

The direction of my findings took me by surprise.  For example the links with my grandmother.  I began by looking at memories of her telling me stories, yet when pondering on this, I began to look more towards her eye condition and the way she could not see to read me stories.  I tried to envisage what it must be like to have degrading eyesight.  From these discoveries, I hope to build some preliminary samples within the next project.

This project had been much about self-discovery and really understanding who I am and where I have come from.  Looking at the project as a whole, I find that I have been more inspired by the psychological and sensory meanings, that direct objects themselves.  Although at times they may be the spark of a journey; i.e. the Red Riding Hood earrings I bought in Paris, where the influence behind the consequential thoughts on my grandmother and our times together.  Yet this lead onto the sensory thoughts on her eye sight.

The subsequent artist research became both focused and open ended, depending on the subject matter.  I researched artists who had been inspired by similar resources, for instance the traditional sampler and its meanings and messages.  Others took me by surprise, take my research on Alice Kettle; I came across an essay written by Jessica Hemmings, where she alludes to Kettle ‘stitching blind’.  This one comment pushed me to investigate her practice methods in further depth.  I discovered her technique of stitching on the reverse side, never knowing how the piece would turn out until she turned it over.  This related so well to my prior research on my grandmother’s eyesight, thus a marriage of findings could be ensued.  This unearthing created a dual finding, not only did it educate me on other artists process of creating contemporary textiles, but also lead me to decisions I may make to trial similar methods myself.

I have cited only a few examples of my findings above, to illustrate my movements through this project.  I project that I will now be able to carry these forward and begin to build up a library of techniques and samples, which will be both personal to the areas I have been concentrating on as well as widely read and documented, in order to produce a techniques file which I can look back on at any stage of my career.

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