7 July 2017
Part 5, Stage 7 – Reflection
Assessment against the project aims
In an email dated 23 May 2017 (Eastaugh, 2017), I gave an outline of my plan for assignment 5 as follows:
“The line of enquiry that I wish to develop is a constructed surface, based on one of three sample ideas from Part 1. The plan is that I will investigate these surfaces in conjunction with different surface/edge treatments and contrasting materials, and through sampling, decide which to take forward as my final piece”.
In the same e-mail, I identified the following as risks:
- Getting carried away and making too many samples, leaving insufficient time to develop ideas and write up.
- That the surface treatments might overcomplicate the ideas and detract from the aesthetics of the simple geometric shapes.
As I feared, the surface treatments did overcomplicate the ideas, which then resulted in less time than I would have liked to develop samples (see summary and review of practical work below).
My initial thought was that I could base my three dimensional surface on one of three structures from Part 1 (e.g. the Mobius strip). However, in emails dated 6 June 2017 (Morton, 2017a) and 20 June 2017 (Morton 2017b), my tutor made some really insightful suggestions about how I might explore and extend the concept:
- Size, structure and scale of individual units
- Light/shadow, opacity/transparency
- 2D vs 3D – to consider the surface as structure without back or front and enclosing negative space.
- Flexibility/rigidity of all or part of the surface/structure
- Too consider disciplines outside textile practice for inspiration (in particular architecture).
Simply applying surface treatments and colour variations to existing structures no longer felt as if it would push or develop me enough.
Summary and review of practical work (investigation, experimentation and sampling)
My practical work can be summarised by the following stages:
- A review of previous work (output/selection: A constructed surface was chosen as the development concept)
- A phase of experimenting with different surface treatments (output/selection: a strip with ladder-like cut-out holes)
- A phase of exploring different ways of joining, configuring and grouping the strips (output/selection: a twisted strip)
- A phase of sampling with the twisted strip, exploring size, placement, colour (output/selection: A design for prototype/maquette)
- Making the final prototype/maquette.
The experimentation into surface treatments did not prove particularly fruitful in relation to developing a constructed surface. I concluded that it was an over complication which detracted rather than enhanced from my concept. Although I had spent much time and effort on the diversion (in effect an extension of part 1 of the module), the experimentation nonetheless bolstered my visual vocabulary. The output of my experiments was a strip with ladder-like holes.
Exploring different ways of joining, configuring and grouping the strips was also problematic. Frustratingly, my samples presented as surface pattern rather than exhibiting the rhythmic, textural qualities that I sought. A simplification of approach led to a successful outcome (samples 7 and 8), and I was able to move onto the final phases of sampling for, and making my final prototype/maquette.
As well as a tendency for overcomplexity, I recognised that I had probably been too hasty in disregarding from some of the my concepts (for examples, see sketchbook page 23 “Zip teeth edges”, and the insert between pages 40 and 41 “Twisted loop”, sample 2, and the insert on page 44 “Figure of eight”, sample 4).
It was timely that one of the areas of suggested reading/viewing in my assignment 4 feedback was Bruce Mao’s “An incomplete manifesto for growth” (Mau, 2010-14) – a list of directions about how to encourage creativity and development. Number 2. on the list “Forget about Good” and number 3. “Process is more important than outcome” were especially pertinent.
Thinking back to the start of the assignment, I was over anxious about producing a “good” output, so instead of of sticking with my ideas and trying to look at them afresh, I simply moved onto the next. Mau suggests that to be innovative and grow it is necessary to remove the constraints of the judgement of outcome and venture into the risky and unknown.
When it became apparent that my approach wasn’t working I “allowed events to change me” (number 1. On Mau’s list). Taking influence from my contextual research and guidance from my tutor’s emails, I came up with simpler ideas which I investigated thoroughly. I began to get more fruitful results and exciting lines of enquiry.
Although I chose sample 11 to develop as my final prototype/maquette, I feel that could also have developed successful outcomes from samples 9 or 10. With additional time, I would have like to investigate further variations in scale, colour, layering and materials. In fact any of these samples could easily have been turned into a series of related works.
I love colour, and particularly bold contrasts of hue, as reflected by the two colour schemes in my sketchbook (pages 19 and 57-58). These reflect an attempt to portray drama, passion, (perhaps even anger or violence), and form an important part of my personality and creative voice. The Japanese aesthetic (which had strong influence on my final piece), however, celebrates natural materials, a gentle sensitivity towards nature, weathering and the visual manifestation of use and wear. I feel an affinity with these Japanese sentiments too, and felt that my colour schemes were incompatible with the direction I wanted to development sample 11. I reluctantly had to drop them from my final piece, but hope that they might find application in future projects.
I sought to extend my sampling by considering placement, in particular with respect to materials choice and the effect of light on a full scale realisation of my maquette. I also touched upon the use of image projection and lighting effects and the benefits of multi-disciplinary collaboration,
How well did I address the points in my assignment 5 developmental action plan?
Problem areas to improve:
1. To make sure that I use sketching to record my responses to sampling – in particular to assist with development (such as design and composition), and as a springboard to propose further ideas.
On several of the modules in this assignment, my tutor has commented that I could be using sketching more routinely, not just to record and observe, but also to inform and develop the progress of my sampling. I have tried to extend the use of my sketchbook, including more sketches, and in particular, using them to hone in on areas for development. By means of example, sample 1 (pages 33-38) and samples 7 and 8 developing into sample 9 (pages 47-54).
Despite my efforts, I still think that I could have pushed my sketching further, and I feel that it will take determination and practice before this becomes second nature.
2. To make sure that I consider and record how I will use the technical and aesthetic knowledge I am acquiring to inform my practice.
An observation of my assignment 4 reflective summation was that I could have included more about how new techniques and aesthetics will impact my practice. I have attempted to be more prescriptive in my assignment 5 learning log/blog, for example: I have described how artists such as Rana Begum and Zandra Hussain use coloured light instead of paint as the primary visual art form in their installations and described how these techniques could be applied to my practice through sampling.
3. To be more experimental with materials, and to use them to push the boundaries of my experimentation and sampling.
I found this area the most difficult, and I will discuss it as a development point in my reflective commentary.
Strengths to extend and apply in different ways:
1. To continue with my thorough contextual research, but to extend it by looking to other disciplines. To think about material, visuals, and the concepts/nature of multidisciplinary creative practices and how these ideas might be translated to invigorate and enrich my practice.
I have been really pleased with the way in which my contextual research is developing to influence my practice. I will discuss this in detail in my reflective commentary.
2. To continue to explore and develop an emphasis on conceptual ideas and connotations beyond visual aesthetics. To use these ideas to inform my sampling and development.
In assignment 5, conceptual ideas didn’t form the basis of my line of enquiry. However, I took the opportunity to record conceptual thoughts in relation to my samples when they arose (i.e. Grenfell fire parallels, experiment 6.3, sketchbook page 30, description in blog entry)
Paul Nash study visit, June 2017
The key learning point that I took from the study visit
was the way in which Paul Nash used process to develop an idea (exemplified by room 4 of the exhibition “Life of the inanimate object”). Starting from an object (e.g. A chair leg, tree root or park bench), Nash prepared a series of sketches, photographs and collages and used these to investigate scale, placement and groupings. He also focused on particular areas of interest – for example details of form or texture.
Edge Magazine, Issue 4 “Growth”, July 2017
I was pleased to have been able to contribute (for the first time) to “Edge-Zine”, (an arts magazine produced by a small collective of past and present OCA students, co-ordinated via Facebook). To date, three issues have been published, the most recent being concerned with the topic of “Growth”
As well as being a valuable and inspiring resource, contributing has given me opportunity to interact more closely with the community OCA students. Being someone who is creatively stimulated by conceptual ideas, I was especially pleased to see narrative and poetry included in the publication alongside visual imagery. I am looking forward to continued involvement and regular contributions to the venture.
Eastaugh, N. (2017) MMT Assignment 5 – ideas. [Email sent to Cari Morton, 23 May 2017]
Morton, C. (2017a) Reply to: MMT Assignment 5 – ideas [Email sent to Nicky Eastaugh, 6 June 2017]
Morton, C, (2017b) MMT pt. 4 feedback. [Email sent to Nicky Eastaugh, 20 June 2017]