Assignment 5 (Option 1): Project 3 : Reflection Point: Where does my work fit in the context of Contemporary Art, in reference to the designers/artists I have researched? 

Reflecting back especially towards my artist and designer research and my subsequent sample making within this project, I wanted to open a written discussion here, to visually explain to both myself and onlookers how I have come to my own ideas. This is often influenced by contemporary artist research. I will document a few examples below.

Karen Nicol

Her views of bring irreverant towards her practice and the materials she uses and what she uses them for, caused my to question my own methods.  Had I become too safe living with my own set boundaries?  Did I enjoy “taking the line for a walk” in the literal sense of pursuing an idea and not caring what processes I used or more importantly what I used them for, taking the traditional contexts out of the way?  Looking at Nicol’s work, helped me realise that I needed to be more relaxed within my approach and not closed minded.  I can see through her work and especially through her book Embellished that she has not lost her sense of fun and play.

Looking back at my own sample making, I can see how I have been inspired by her work:

Take for example this page from one of my sketchbooks. Illustrating Nicol’s skirt sample. The cut away concept with the merging of memory and travel must have played in my mind….

Above: partial view of my decolourant pattern, screen printed onto hand dyed vintage nightdress cotton. Imagery of myself and grandmother placed to be seen in part.

I aim to keep this work Irreverent in my mind, which I hope will remind me of the need to keep up the question …..What would happen if? This should create more of the explorer within myself, the explorer of my field.

Turning back to focus on my collar work, I researched to find films with Nicol’s work in progress pieces in focus, so that I myself could learn new skills.

This one below, where she captures braid inside a satin couching stitch was one I felt I could use.

The use of the braid gives substance and stiffness. I saw that this would be particularly effective in the case of my collars, so that they could sit on a garment with shape.

I experimented with this idea with a variety of materials. This helped me to decide with confidence which one I wanted to use on my collar samples.

On thinking about this, I am happy with the ways I used this artist as part of my inspiration, however I am more satisfied that I have not looked at a designer and simply copied. Her work became simply a part of my own building blocks.

Fashion designers held key features within my processes..

Zandra Rhodes

Facial imagery, helped me to define my own style and how I wanted to represent this in the area of my collar samples.

Rather than being inspired by her garments themselves, I chose to look deeper into her online design portfolios, where you could see her original sketches. This helped me visually understand fashion illustration and thus create my own samples based on my own outcomes. wp-image-2041302506Seeing imagery like this, helped me see with my own eyes where and when I had been inspired.  I built connections in my sketchbooks so this could be illustratively read.  This made my work easier to understand and for myself easier to remember where I had been motivated originally.  I feel that this idea of connections and highlighting them within a discussion, is key to strong development.  If you know and understand where you have come from, then you will be more confident as to how to continue.

Another aspect of the above design which I can now see influenced my collars, is the subdued colour palette. The stark contrast between black and white with one colour accent. In my case I chose red.

Elsa Schiaparelli

The above design took my interest as it depicted facial detail.  It became a part of my collective collar research, again the red lips are a stand out feature, as on my own design. LookiAgain I used her work as simply a part of the jigsaw. With reference to fashion illustration style rather than any help as regards the materials I built the collar with. This shows that I am beginning to self-stand my practice, taking imagery and methods at my own will along the way, to influence, not remake. The wire in this sample I felt, gave this collar more of a modern twist, somthing that I had not seen before. Thus carving my own path in the contemporary arts sphere.

In another way, Louise Gardiner helped me towards the concept of creating designs to transform onto printed textiles.

She prints her original designs onto silk. Yet if us the simple converting factor that took my interest.

This lead me to trials of my own, using Adobe Photoshoot to add slight colour changes then printing them onto printable cotton:

Notice again how no inspiration had been taken from Gardiner’s design, rather it is her process. Reflecting on this, shows that I have researched much deeper than surface imagery in order to find my own contemporary context. Sourcing information on methods rather than guessing how a technical piece has been made, has helped me to grow in my own skills source.


Alice Kettle

I looked at her work especially through my Research Essay and thus have a deeper knowledge and understanding of her work.  The aspect which really resonated with myself, was the ongoing thread of a story or narrative within her work.  She built this in often subtle ways in actual tale telling, yet contrasted this with large scale; so to my perception her work can be seen as two extremes, depending on what context you are discussing.  This makes for interesting research.  I myself have always been drawn to the approach of telling a story through your work.  I look at my earlier work examples at level one and even the last course of this level. I can now see how I thought that the narrative had to be obvious within your work for all to view. I thought it had to be written in clear textile vocabulary. However through careful consideration of other designers and artists and especially looking deeper to see what it was that underpinned their outcomes has helped me comprehend and develop a more subtle portrayal of the narrative sphere.

Above: Golden Dawn. Alice kettle. (2011)

Turning towards the methods I decided to explore, I found that those such as Kate Goldsworthy and Rebecca Earley encouraged me to push my own practice. Observing their work in the context of my own techniques I was using at the time, namely decolourant, made me curious. I could see that she had produced work in a similar way, but what methods did they use? Some were not available to me out of a specialist lavatory or facility; yet it made me more determined to adapt and decipher other ways of producing a similar result. After investigating this I began to plan my own responses which are found spanning both project three and also pushed through project four.

In real terms, looking at the above artist helped me to go the extra mile and not stop at decolourant but investigate what other mediums could be used to produce a similar result.

So far I have begun to plan sun prints and cyanotype printing in response from this as you will see in a separate post.

 Above: Becky Earley and below an example if Kate Goldsworthy’practice.

Within this post I have begun to comprehend where my own ideas have come from, which is all a part of finding my place in the artisan world.

This post is a snapshot of representational highlights which I have uncovered through my learning.

How can we define our personal place in a contemporary context? 

On reflection, I don’t think this can be pigeon holed. The important factor is that my work is developing and that I am questioning it constantly. Yes there are certain paths and ways of working which we are all drawn to and as you can see, if we look back on our outcomes, we can source what has underpinned them. My own personal goal is to keep discovering and expanding my practice, so that I have as many ways of working as possible held to use within my individual textile vocabulary toolbox.

Where the work sits? 

I believe this will come naturally.


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