Admittedly I found this part of the course (projects one and two) my biggest challenge to date. This may have been for two reasons:
One, generally not feeling as inspired as I normally am.
Two, the material having less definite instruction than previous modules, thus there is a sense of being on one’s own and having to know rather than be instructed. This is of course a part of growing through the course and developing my own personal practice.
At the beginning of this course, I felt that I knew who I was as an artist practitioner and did not feel the need to question it. However my tutor and the course material have been instrumental in making me doubt, in a positive way. Rather than continue in one way, producing a certain style of work, my tutor has injected in me a desire to consider the need to experiment and be able to conceive and apprehend new prospects within my work.
Feeling a tad out of my comfort zone and a little unsure where to begin, especially through Project Two and the sample making part of this course, I found an OCA blog post by Rebecca Fairley reassuring. Under the subject of development she comments: ‘It may feel awkward and difficult to start with as you try to open your mind to a wider range of possibilities but as with most things the more you practice and consider this process the more natural it will feel’. In my estimation, widening your practice and taking risks can feel painful at times, the concept of the unknown. Yet the prospect of discovering a new idea or technique is a rewarding process and mistakes made when displayed within my body of work, shows a sense of endeavour and a desire to progress.
During this project, I found much time was taken on research and consideration. At times I found myself worrying that I was spending too much time researching artists and techniques and less weight on the actual physical making. This admittedly may have been unbalanced at times, as my head felt full of ideas and concepts, mixed with confusion as to how to develop them. Yet having now had time to hone and isolate ideas, I realise that this process was a necessary one and although I would have preferred to create more, I feel that I am better equipped to implement this and more sample making within my next Assignment work, Assignment Five. In the context of critical reflection, I have found that this does become a natural process; instead of looking on the surface of an idea, I now find myself in an inner debate. This helps in the discovery of idea / concept strength.
I see the material gleaned and accumulated within this project two as a valuable resource, not just for this course but my future in textiles. This is especially as regards the Techniques File. Organisation is key when implementing techniques; I now have an organised file of these, which I can add to as I progress. This means that skills labelled within this file are easy to access in the future, all in one place. Reflecting back on this file again, you will note that many observed are teaching outlines which I have written myself. I do not believe in cutting and pasting for the sake of it, without real understanding. Thus all the information has been thoroughly digested by myself and self-written unless stated.
Focusing on sample making, I mentioned previously my concerns as to how much students created at this stage. I emailed the OCA on this and was sent a helpful reply. Here is a snippet of this: ‘My understanding is that the collating of materials here is probably more important than any samples produced. If you’re in the mind-set of making you may see things and wonder what they would be like if they were put together etc. in which case go for it and play and experiment. I shouldn’t worry about producing lots here as I mentioned the important thing is to gather enough materials to develop later.’
In answer to this, through Exercise 4.5, you will observe that I have developed certain samples where I felt it was right and inspired to do so. I also concentrated on gathering materials ready to implement and experiment with. One of the ways to convey this to my audience was to photograph and list them. Thus you will find evidence of this on my blog too; this illustrates planning for the next project and a progressive attitude.
Focusing again on my research through this assignment, I again look to Rebecca Fairley’s post on developing textile work. She recommends: ‘Don’t overdo the collecting of research material. Aim to be both focused and broadminded’. It took me a while to discern what she meant by this; how could I be both focused and at the same time looking at a broad spectrum? My understanding is this: Being broadminded does not mean looking into every area and every subject, or in fact collating a mass of material to show I have “covered” much research material. It actually means that I need to think outside of the box; not to look solely to textile artists as a point of investigation, but look to life, the buildings around me, fine art…..Yet the catch is to have my subject matter in mind when implementing this, my “focus” or area I want to develop.
I have mentioned in the past that I worried my research time overtook my own experimentation. Reflecting back on this particular assignment, I have felt it necessary to work in this way. I needed to learn and soak in other disciplines, before I could find my own working practice. In doing this and at times seemingly taking too much time over it that I did panic, I feel it has been a learning process which I have had to go through, in order to strengthen who I am. Through the next projects which relate to this assignment work, I will extend my learning into a more physical practice.
Through my explorations within Project Two, I have been able to hone my ideas into lists, maps and preliminary concepts, which I will take into the next assignment. It is a scary feeling in a way, as really I have no idea how it will finish. I am beginning to see this as freedom, as the unexpected and the unknown means I must be experimenting or trying out what is new to myself. Again reassurance was found in Fairley’s post: ‘you may have no idea or very little idea of where the work is going but follow a course of action to create something unexpected. This makes development scary but also exciting. You will say things to yourself like “I don’t know if this will work but I will start like this and see what happens.”.’
I found that many ideas did come to “dead ends” as it were. I took this as a strength, as I had developed the courage and depth to define and decide which to take forward. Other lines of research stopped due to natural causes; for example an inquiry into my great grandmother and her work for the company Fenwick’s. Due to a lack of records in history, I could not find out enough information to continue. This and other examples helped me to filter and refine my development.
I do have a few ideas organised, which you will see that I have pursued in order to discover just how viable they are. The ones which have come to be the strongest in my mind are:
– Lost scarf, travels.
– Links with my grandmother and her loss of sight, injected with memories of her telling me a narrative by voice not book.
These ideas do interconnect, as I will further explain through my project work as I develop, thus may tie in or separate, who knows?