Assignment 4 – response to tutor feedback

20 June 2017

Assignment 4 – response to tutor feedback

My tutor for this module was Cari Morton. A link to her feedback can be found here.

Response to tutor feedback:

Summary of the main learning points with my responses:

1. A couple of instances where I could taken my ideas further and suggestions on how I might have done so:

The Aldeburgh lifeboat drawing (well developed in motif, repeat and colour, but not translated into print).

When it came to deciding which sketchbook ideas to translate into print, I felt that the Aldeburgh lifeboat station work did not fit as well with the print techniques as some of the other themes (i.e. Thorpeness and Sizewell seascape: reductive monoprinting, Maggi Hambling Scallop sculpture: collatype). Looking back, I can see that overall my printing focused more heavily on drawing (which I love), than on pattern or repeat. I am glad that my tutor has made this observation because it has drawn my attention on how I might extend and apply my sketchbook work in a different way.

     

  

The collagraph portrait print (project 2, sample 3c) could have been refined into an interesting approach to image and/or pattern development.

Especially, my tutor mentioned the layering of different surface qualities and linear imagery.

Sample3c.jpg

Thinking about these comments in relation to my sketchbook work (see point 2, below), I can appreciate that sketching could have helped me to critique the sample in a more useful way. Instead of viewing it as a stand alone image to be judged as “successful” or “unsuccessful”, focusing on a particular areas of visual interest would have helped me think about how I might  apply the technique in a new context, or even to refine and develop it into a new approach. The ability to make this sort of mental shift is important because it helps to shape and develop a creative voice.

 

2. To use drawing to observe, record, extend and develop my prints:

Because the prints were drawing-based I made a decision not to draw them. However, having read and considered my tutor’s feedback I can understand that it would have been a valuable exercise. In a few instances, I have used photography to focus on areas of interest (e.g. a close up of an area of burlap stencil print, project 1, exercise 4 , sample 4b reproduced in my learning log, and close ups of project 1, exercise 4, samples 6a and 6b on page 53 of my sketchbook). I can see that drawing would have helped to widen my thinking and perhaps push my sampling in a new direction.

3. To include a few evaluative notes alongside my prints:

Although I wrote a detailed analysis of my prints in my learning log (blog), my tutor made the point that it would have been useful to have included a few “first reaction” or “off-the-cuff” evaluative notes in the print folders alongside each image. I agree that this would have enriched the experience of looking at the prints, and would also have helped with cross referencing them to the evaluative discussion in the learning log. 

4. In my summative reflection, to have mentioned more about the impact of the knowledge I acquired (techniques and aesthetics) and how it will be applied to my ongoing practice:

I agree that I could have been more specific about how I will apply the techniques and aesthetics I have learned. It will facilitate me think creatively about context, development and my creative voice.

5. To write an plan of developmental action points and areas to focus on in part 5:

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.
  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.
  3. To be more experimental with materials, and to use them to push the boundaries of my experimentation and sampling.

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 multidisplinary creative practices and how these ideas might be translated to invigorate and enrich my textile practice.
  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.

 

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Part 5, Stages 3 to 5 – Sample making, recording outcomes, sorting (experimenting with surfaces)

17 June 2017


Part 5, Stages 3 to 5 – Sample-making, recording outcomes, sorting (experimenting with surfaces)

I approached this project by starting with a series of process-led experiments, concentrating on the exploration of surface properties (particularly texture and contrast); the aim/output being to select a single line of enquiry to develop on towards a prototype or maquette. 

My experiments were conducted in the context of one the following three structures, as a possible starting point for a constructed 2D/3D surface.

View_one.jpg Three_together.jpgFrom_above.jpg

My experiments can be subdivided into the following categories:


Scratching:

See sketchbook pages 3-6, page 7 (in combination with flaps), and page 18 (in combination with punching)

This exercise helped to ease me back into the course after a period of several weeks in which I wasn’t able to work. A library book on paper sculpture by Rouke (Rouke, 1993), made me appreciate that I had not properly realised the potential of this technique in Part 1, Project 4, Exercise 2, having only considered scratching as a series of isolated marks, rather than using them to produce a textured surface.

For these experiments, I used paper (of different types) painted with acrylic paint, which I removed by scratching. I looked at big scratches vs little scratches, pattern vs overall texture, different marks using different tools, and the contrast between areas of high and low density scratching. I lit the samples to see the thinned paper had become transparent or translucent, and used coloured cellophane to see how these effect might be exploited. 

I have made comments in my development and sketchbook alongside each of my experiments, noting the qualities of each, what I liked and didn’t like, and technical considerations (such as ease of working). 

In particular, I found the experiment top right of page 6 (experiment 1.11, scratching diagonally using a scalpel, Khadi paper) very striking due to it’s texture and contrast of hue (see below):

 

In a development, I used handmade paper painted with a chalky paint and made rougher more irregular scratches which actually puncture right through the surface. I used these in combination with small regular holes made with a pin (experiment 1.14 – see sketchbook, page 18). This turned out to be my favourite textured paper because of it’s irregularity and rawness which I find more engaging than the cartridge and Khadi paper samples.

I also liked the idea of transitioning the of density of mark across the surface to create tonal graduation (see below, experiment 1.12, sketchbook page 6).

 

I envisaged that I might use a scratched surface as one side of the Mobius strip or circle, contrasted against a surface of different texture and/or hue on the opposite side. However, this felt rather “safe” with little scope for “pushing the boundaries” or risk-taking.

 

Flaps (incising and lifting):

See sketchbook page 7 (in combination with scratching), and pages 9-16

The use of flaps in conjunction with shadow and lighting (project 2, exercise 5) was one of the processes which excited me in Part 1, and the reason why I chose to revisit the technique.
 
I started by exploring a combination of scratching and flaps (sketchbook page 7), but I felt that they made the surface too confused and complicated (in conjunction with a constructed surface, the flaps would detract from the geometry of the repeated shapes by competing with them for visual attention).
 
I then looked at flaps on their own as a means of creating surface texture. I considered triangles (sketchbook pages 10-12) and semi-circles (sketchbook pages 13-16).
 
The triangular incisions and flaps created some very interesting textural surfaces and shadows which I explored by photographing my samples in different orientations (page 10-11). I also used sketching to investigate the effect of different sized triangles and changing orientation of the flaps/incisions to make a pattern (sketchbook page 12)
 
In particular, I liked the effect of painting the reverse of the surface a contrasting colour (red), which emphasised the flaps and also created subtlety coloured red-tinged shadows (see sketchbook page 11, experiment 2.2). This idea came from a sketchbook sample which I worked for Part 1 (see Part 1 Sketchbook – Theme “The Garden”, pages 21-22), and also from artist Rana Begum’s “work on paper” (2012) (Begum, 2006).
 
 
 
 
Once again, although I liked the surfaces which I was creating, I didn’t feel that they could be used successfully in conjunction with any of the geometric forms at the start of this blog post (for the same reasons of overcomplexity and competing for visual attention).
 
Next, I made a small sample of semi-circular flaps, arranged in rows, alternating the orientation of the semi-circle and opening (see the diagram on page 13 sketchbook clarification). The piece can be found as experiment 2.3 on page 13 of the sketchbook. Photographs of it in different orientations are shown below:
 
 
What I particularly like about this sample was that fact that it’s appearance changes depending on the direction and angle from which it was viewed. It also cast amazing shadows (see sketchbook page 13).
 
I used sketching to explore how this surface might appear if made from a thicker material, so that the edges of the incisions became a feature of the surface (page 15), and also how it might look is rolled into a tube or used to make a folded/zig-zag configuration (pages 14-16). 
 
I didn’t feel that the surface worked when configured as zig-zag pleats. I think this is because there is no harmony between the incisions (circular) and the angular form of the zig-zag folds. It also felt too safe as a design idea. 
 
When rolled into a tube, the sample seemed to come alive; there was the ability to see though the flaps to the reverse side of the tube, and there was harmony between the semi-circular flaps and the curve of the surface. There were shadows created by the flaps both inside the tube and on the outer surface of the cylinder. I started to experiment by placing the tube adjacent to a tube made from scratched and punched handmade paper (experiment 1.14).
 
 
This combination appeals to me because of the strong contrast between the chalky, ragged surface of the scratched sample and the smooth sharp form of the semi-circular flaps of the incised sample. It made me consider the possibility of making a tube structure, instead of using one of the geometric forms at the start of this blog post. I conducted a search on Pinterest and as inspiration for a modular constructed surface composed of tubes (Eastaugh, 2017).
 

Exploring texture and colour:

I selected a red, white and blue colour scheme, inspired by the colours used in several Oscar Niemeyer buildings, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi (Design Buildings Wiki, 2017). I am drawn to the strong contrast of hue, and I find the combination of red and blue in particular attention-grabbing.

In my development sketchbook, I considered the contrasting texture of fabrics and other materials, thinking about how I might use these alone or in conjunction with textured papers (see pages 17-20). I slashed glossy stretch metallic and matt acrylic felt (experiments 3.2 and 3.4), contrasted red lacy sequin fabric with smooth acrylic-painted blue paper and used feathers, eyelash yarn and sequin waste and zip teeth for texture (experiment 3.3).

Combinations which I particularly liked were sequin waste and cellophane (experiment 3.3 below):

 

Red lacy or fluffy textures against bright blue acrylic-painted paper (sketchbook page 19, experiments 3.6 – left and 3.5 – right):

 

and juxta positioned torn and cut edges of paper (experiment 3.1, sketchbook page 17)  

 

I considered using lamination as a means of making fabric samples stiffer (so that they could be used in sculptural strips or shapes joined to create a surface). The results were disappointing (experiments 3.8- 3.10, sketchbook page 22). As well as not being sufficiently stiff, I also felt that the lamination masked the reflective and textural qualities of the materials (in particular the sequins and feathers), so I decided not to continue with this line of enquiry.

 

Edges:

In my preliminary research, I identified edge treatments as a possible avenue of research. The torn edges of strips of paper which I had assembled as part of my colour study gave an interesting contrast between the painted surface of the paper and the white interior exposed by the tear (experiment 3.1, sketchbook page 17).

I also thought about using a zipper or charred edge to create an interesting boundary. In the event, I was left feeling underwhelmed, because my sketches and computer modelling suggested that these treatments would detract from the form of a constructed surface rather than enhancing it.

Post script:

Having completed the assignment and with the benefit of subsequent experiments, I can now envisage that an edge treatment (such as the addition of a zip-teeth), would work really well with a very simple shape, such as rectangles or semi-circles. I know from dressmaking that zip tapes are often stiffer than the fabric they are attached to, in which case the zip teeth become distorted into a wavy edge. This could be an attractive feature, which might be used to make textured surface if a multitude of the rectangles or semi-circles were arranged together. At the time, this idea did not pop into my head because I was focused on the Mobius strip and more complex surfaces. Experience has now taught me that the most effective shapes are the simplest and in hindsight, I’m sure I would have been able to develop an successful constructed surface from this concept.


Stitching:

Because stitching is so time-consuming, I confined myself to one type (simple running stitch) which I selected to expose the colour transition of my thread. I chose a blue hand-spun hand-dyed yarn which was variable in thickness and colour. I sewed strands in staggered rows on curtain pelmet lining (which I selected for it’s stiffness and malleability). 

The photo below shows the thin rolled tube of stitched pelmet fabric placed adjacent to the rolled tube of painted and punctured/scratched handmade paper and a flat piece of card painted with acrylic blue paint (experiment 5.1, sketchbook page 27). I like the contrast of texture in this tube configuration with the different pieces. I also like the way that the stitching emphasises the long thin shape of the tube, and gives subtle tonal and textural variation across the surface. 

 

I also configured the sample in the shape of a Mobius strip (see sketchbook page 27), but didn’t feel it would be visually appealing when duplicated due to the stitching detracting from the simple geometry of the shape. Also, the stitching being double-sided meant there was a little contrast between the two surfaces.

 

Holes/cut-outs:

A reoccurring theme which fascinates me is the idea of placing holes, or “windows” across a surface so that they reveal only part of what’s behind. Starting with a strip of paper, similar in shape to the one I had used to make my Mobius strip (i.e. in the ratio of 1:6 width to length), I started exploring the possibility of cutting out rectangular shapes along it’s length.

At the same time, I wanted to explore colour transition, so I painted a piece of 130gsm paper with acrylic paint, graduating across the surface from red to blue, using different hues.

 

Next, I cut rectangular holes along the length of three similar sized strips. Some holes were uniform and evenly spaced, others were different sizes and with variable spacing (see sketchbook, page 31 and rear inside cover). 

Seeing the samples laid casually on top of each other on my desk made me realise that I was onto something visually exciting (see below):

There is a feeling of depth and movement implied by curling and accentuated by the fact that surfaces in the foreground and background are both visible. The pieces remind coiled springs, taught and ready to “ping” unsprung. There is also a suggestion of balancing; that the pieces might roll towards (or away from) the viewer at any minute. 

The strong contrast of hue between each surface of the strips helped to define the negative spaces. I love the fact that new (and different shaped) negative spaces are made where the “ladders” cross.

Because holes allow visibility of the opposite surface, more visual cues are available about curvature and distortion of the strip. This is implied by both the relative position of the ladder-shaped holes, and perspective (although it would be possible to play tricks with the viewer by changing the size of the cut-outs to compensate for perspective or to make the holes to suggest opposite to what might be expected!)

Next, I placed the three different 3D shapes I had made onto what remained of the surface I had cut them from (experiment 6.3, sketchbook page 30). The photographs below show a single set-ups viewed from two different angles:

 

Firstly I love the fact that such different results can be obtained just by walking around the arrangement and viewing it from different points. This is a feature which I personally find very engaging when I experience it in other practitioners’ work (often sculpture or architecture).

The second feature which works well is the different visual response depending on whether the contrast of hue is strong, or weather the colours are similar. When the contrast of is strong, the shapes (both positive and negative) seem to stand out and jump for attention, whereas where the colours are coincidently similar, the form is  barely noticeable, with shapes tending to blend into the background. This adds an extra level of visual depth and excitement.

Emotionally, I find the colours raw and explosive. I feel that there is drama (perhaps anger) in the arrangement. It occurred to me that I had produced this set of experiments on the day after the Grenfell tower fire in London. The cut-out shapes could be reminiscent of architectural blocks, or perhaps a fireman’s ladder and the red and black painted suggestive of fire and charring. Any recreation of the events, however were either unconscious or coincidental, but perhaps this explains why I feel a strong response to the sample?

Finally, I was interested to see what effect could be obtained by placing the pieces onto a mirrored surface (see below):

In a similar arrangement to the tangle of pieces as they laid on my desk, I let the components rest where they fell.

I also like this arrangement very much; the mirror reflects light, so the image is crisp and well defined to the viewer. The mirror allows the underside of pieces to be seen (which would otherwise not necessarily be visible) and there is a symmetry and rhythm created by virtue of the reflection. I was pleased able to take the photograph only reflecting the white ceiling and without the distraction other objects in the room (such as the TV and light fitting)! This was extremely difficult.

Once I started experimenting with this concept, I was quickly sold on the idea that it was the line of enquiry that I want to take forward and develop.I still have still to consider different ways that the pieces can be joined to make a shapes, how these shapes can be joined/interlocked/linked to form a surface. There are also considerations of size, scale and arrangement of components.

 

Sorting:
 
I embarked on this phase of experimentation thinking that I could use a textured surface to enhance and enrich a constructed surface (such as one of the three examples given at the start of this post). My conclusion is that in most instances, adding this extra complexity would actually detract from the visual aesthetics of the piece by disrupting the purity of form (geometry). 
 
Although the tubes which I made from my textured surfaces showed promise, my intuition was that this idea was too conventional and safe.
 
My preferred outcome and future line of enquiry is the twisted and coiled strips with ladder-like cut-outs, for the following reasons:
  1. Interesting and complex positive shapes and negative spaces are created when shapes are twisted, overlaid or combined.
  2. A surface made from these units will appear different depending on the vantage point/ angle from which it is observed (experiment 6.3)
  3. There is potential to design a configurable surface which can be changed depending upon the installation.
  4. The potential to explore/exploit shadow, light and/or reflection in the final design (experiment 6.5, for example).
  5. There is the potential use similarity and contrast of hue to respectively emphasis or suppress areas of the sculpture by making them appear to stand out or recede.
 
 
I feel that I have spent a lot of time and effort unnecessarily exploring surface texture when I should have been concentrating on shape and form. Resisting the temptation to delete this section, I have included it as a record of my work and so that I can draw on it as a learning experience.
 
 
References:
 
Begum, R. (2006) “Work on paper” (2012) At: http://www.ranabegum.com/page42/photos-5/ (Accessed 4 July 2017)
 
Designing Buildings Wiki (2017) Niteroi Contemporary art museum. At: https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Niteroi_Contemporary_Art_Museum (Accessed 5 July 2017)
 
Eastaugh, N. (2017) Tube Sculptures [Pinterest pin, June 2017] http://pin.it/N3kBSEx (Accessed 5 July 2017)
 
Rouke, N. (1993) Sculpture in paper. Massachusetts. Davis publications inc.
 

Paul Nash study visit 10 June 17

12 June 2017


Paul Nash study visit

 

Overview/introduction:

The study visit was held at the Sainsbury’s Centre for the visual arts in Norwich and was hosted by tutor Hayley Lock. The exhibition was essentially the same one that appeared at the Tate, London earlier in the year.

Paul Nash (b. 1889, d. 1946) was a British painter whose work spanned the period of both World Wars. Initially trained as a designer/illustrator, he served in active service during WWI, becoming an official war artist during the latter parts of the conflict. Nash experienced the full horror of the trenches, and had to endure the death of close colleagues. As a result, later suffered mental illness (which we would now describe as post traumatic stress disorder). He also suffered physical illness; notably severe asthma.

During the inter-war period, Nash continued to paint and draw, being especially influenced by landscapes, found objects (the life of the inanimate object), the prehistoric, ancient architecture, natural history and the emerging surrealist movement. In addition to painting, Nash continued as a writer, author of natural history and artists’ books and photographer. He later painted powerful images depicting the destruction of WWI, most notably the airframe scrapyard in Cowley, which he depicted as a sea of tangled metal in “Totes Meer” (1940-1) (Tate, n.d.a)  In his latter years, Nash reverted to landscape paintings returning to favourite scenes and the recurring themes of mysticism and spirituality. 

 

Focus on specific works and areas of interest:

Paul Nash was a prolific artist and it is possible to see development in style and influences over the course of his career.

The first of these is the crossover between his background in illustration: Nash’s work shows a characteristic interest in the use of straight lines and angles in the form of triangles and zig-zags. Theses feature are present is almost all of Nash’s works. 

Nash was interested in the spiritual (perhaps with a Pagan slant?), and his work is full of symbolism. The sun, moon, moonlight regularly feature in his paintings, as does the idea of the viewer “floating above” the subject matter of the painting; suggesting an otherworldly detachment from the scene. Also present is the suggestion of an “underworld”, the idea of there being a hidden world underneath the soil or water. The fruiting bodies of fungi feature frequently in Nash’s work. However the bulk of a fungus is in fact the mycelium; a strange branching, thread-like fibrous material permeating the ground or substrate from which the fruiting body appears.

Throughout his career Nash used a very distinctive colour palette; yellow ochre, pale blue, black and grey, soft brownish pink, olive and viridian greens. He also used a distinctive oxide red, as in the dock leaves in his famous WWI oil painting “The Menin Road” (1919), (Imperial War Museums, 2017) and the red tress and brick wall of “Behind the Inn” (1919-22) (Tate, n.d.b)

Throughout his career, Nash frequently bent the rules of perspective, deliberately using it to make his paintings more intriguing, for example “Nostalgic landscape” (1923-38) (Artuk, n.d.), “Pillar and moon” (1932-42) (Tate, n.d.c)

For the 1930’s, Nash became increasingly interested in Surrealism and became a pioneer of the Surrealist movement, promoting it through the International Surrealist exhibition of 1936 (Parker, 2017)

A recurring theme of Nash’s work is the English landscape. We saw in his early works that he had painted landscapes close to his home in Iver Heath, and the “Wittenham Clumps” (1913) (Nashclumps.org, n.d.) (twin beach woods on the site of an Iron Aged fort he had visited in Oxfordshire). After WWI he moved to Dymchurch is Kent and many of his paintings of the period (1921-25) reflect this seaside landscape, such as “Wall against the sea” (1922) and “The Shore” (1923) (Holford, n.d.). Many of these themes reoccur in this later work.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the exhibition from a student’s point of view was room 4 ‘Life of an inanimate object’ – essentially a study on how to develop a concept. This part of the exhibition gave insight into how Nash took an idea (e.g. a piece of wooden driftwood or found object) and worked it up into sketches, collages, photographs, exploring and focusing on particular elements, thinking about groupings, contrasts, or perhaps how the objects would look if placed out of context.

 

What can I learn from the exhibition and how will it translate to my practice?

  1. The exhibition demonstrated a process of how to use everyday objects to identify and develop ideas for visual art.
  2. It made me look at still life in a different way (i.e. that it doesn’t need to involve obvious/conventional grouping – for example his surrealist work).
  3. Elements of Nash’s practice which I could translate to my own work include mark-making and the use of line (in particular fine straight lines for texture), his colour palette, the intentional distortion of perspective.

  

References:

Atuk (n.d.) Nostalgic landscape (1923-38) At: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/nostalgic-landscape-81330# (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Benson, E. (n.d.) Inspiring landscapes 3: “Wall against the sea”. [Pinterest pin, n.d.] At: http://pin.it/qrtwkDo (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Chambers, E. (Ed) (2016-17) Paul Nash. London. Tate publishing. 

Holford, J. (n.d.) “The Shore” (1923) [Pinterest pin, n.d.] At: http://pin.it/s0wSjs5 (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Imperial War Museums (2017) The Menin Road (1919) At: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20087 (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Nashclumps.org (n.d.) Paul Nash and the Wittenden Clumps: Wittenden clumps (2013) At: http://www.nashclumps.org/early.html (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Parker, P. (2017) ‘Paul Nash’s commitment to the English landscape’ In: Apollo magazine. 13 January 2017. [online] At: https://www.apollo-magazine.com/paul-nash-tate-britain/ (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Tate (n.d.a) Totes Meer (Dead Sea) (1940-41) At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-totes-meer-dead-sea-n05717 (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Tate (n.d.b) Behind the wall (1919-22) At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-behind-the-inn-n04259 (Accessed 5 July 2017)

Tate (n.d.c) Pillar and Moon (1932-42) At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-pillar-and-moon-n05392 (Accessed 5 July 2017)



Part 5, Stage 2 – Research (preliminary phase)

22 May 2017


Part 5, Stage 2 – Research (preliminary phase)

As a result of stage 1, I decided to conduct some research along the lines of option 1, which is a constructed surface (see conclusion at the end of the stage 1 post).

I started by making a mind map of all the variations that I might consider, which I illustrated with examples from the Internet, literature, and from my sampling (see below). This has been included as the first page of my sketchbook.

I realised that within the idea of a constructed surface, there was actually scope for incorporating other aspects of sampling from module which had excited me (such as flaps, cut-outs, and other surface treatments). Consequently, although I had initially focused on the Möbious strip sample (part 2, project 1, exercise 5, sample 9), I decided that at this stage it would be helpful to widen my line of enquiry.

A particularly fruitful source of information was Pinterest; I created a specific board for this assignment on the subject of “Geometry”, with ideas from architecture and textiles (Eastaugh, 2017a). 

The diagram allowed me to revisit what type of constructed surface I might consider:

  • Folded/creased
  • Windows/cut outs
  • Twisted joined
  • Folded/creased
  • Flaps
  • Modules
 
I also realised that I could not afford to make my line of enquiry too wide, or I would run out of time. Based on my review of stage 1 and the focus of my mind map, I decided on the following:
 
Definitely:
  • A constructed piece
  • A repeating pattern of some sort
  • 2 visibly contrasting surfaces (either an inside/outside, front/back, on top/underneath). Nature of the contrast to be confirmed with sampling, but could be colour, pattern or textural.
To consider:
  • The use light and shadow
  • The possibility of incorporating contrast of opacity and transparency
  • Whether it would be appropriate to use transition or scale, colour or tone across the surface.
 
 
I selected the three ideas from my sampling which show the most promise and which might be suited to different surface treatments and/or materials:
 
View_one.jpg
Above: Part 2, Project 1, exercise 5, sample 9 – Möbious strip constructed surface
3_circles.jpg
Above: Part 2, Project 1, exercise 5, sample 8 – Intersecting circles
Mult.jpg
Above: Part 2, Project 1, exercise 3, sample 3 – Plastic honeycomb surface
 
 
Instead of writing up my research into relevant artists/designers as a blog entry, I have decided to include the information alongside development drawings, ideas and materials in my sketchbook. Instead of repeating the information in this blog, I will give a summary of contemporary practitioners which I found especially relevant and influential.
 

Deepa Panchamia
  • Orientation of elements across the fabric surface and use of a limited colour palette (Panchamia, 2016)
  • Use of layers and semi-transparent fabrics (Cole, 2008:72)

Anne Kyyro Quinn
  • Use of shadow to present tonal variation in single colour fabric panels (Quinn, 2009: 54, 168-171)Arrangements of repeating elements (Quinn, 2009: 169-170) 

Nani Marquina

  • Textured carpets, interlocking pile components (Quinn, 2009: 255)

Cornelia Parker
  • Sculptures explore symmetry, waste materials/found objects, textural surfaces (Blazwick, 2013)
  • Hot poker drawing (2011) – patterning and surface distortion due to symmetrical burning of folded paper with hot poker (Ingleby gallery, 2017)
  • Sculptural work makes effective use of shadow and is often on a large scale (Waters, 2011)
 

The following sources are not specific to a single practitioner:


Arrangements and patterns:

  • Sources of design for architects (and everyone else!) – shapes, patterns, constructed surfaces (Spuybroek, 2011)
  • Some ideas on how everyday objects can be arranged to make patterns (Mossman, 2008: 60-61, 72-73,  110-111, 120-121, 131)

Found materials and creative reuse:

  • Lots of ideas for arranging and joining everyday materials to make interesting surfaces
  • Cut-through shapes (Renshaw, 2009:72-74)
  • Cording (Renshaw, 2009:30)
  • Joining punched and braided leather belts to make an interesting textural surface (Seo, 2011: 58-59)
  • Using transparent properties of overlapping masking tape to create tonal variation (Seo, 2011: 40-41)
  • Using plaster to transform/stiffen fabric (silk flowers) (Seo, 2011:26-27)
  • Using cut outs from discarded drinks cans (Seo, 2011:158-159), (Johnson, 2009:135, 220)
  • Use of found/recycled paper (Thittichai, 2014:44-52)
  • Using rolled paper for edge patterning and texture (Diane Gilleland, craftypod, USA) (Johnson, 2009:28)
  • Paper sewn together to make patchwork surface (Heather Price, Winemakerssister, USA)  (Johnson, 2009:30)
  • Zipper teeth for textured edges (Johnson, 2009:55, 107, 128, 138)
  • Tyre tread for surface texture (Johnson, 2009:84)
  • Playing cars used as printed pattern  (Johnson, 2009:107)
  • Fraying fabric for textural edges  (Johnson, 2009:193)
  • Transformation of plastics to make sculptures, David Edgar  (Johnson, 2009:256-257)
  • Colour transition  (Johnson, 2009:299)
  

References: 

Blazwick, I. (2013) Cornelia Parker. London. Thames and Hudson.

Cole, D. (2008) Textiles Now. London. Laurence King publishers.

Eastaugh, N. (2017a) Geometry. Pinterest board. At:http://pin.it/j6ZNnRL (Accessed 23 May 2017)

Ingleby gallery (2017) Cornelia Parker: Hot poker drawing. At: http://www.inglebygallery.com/exhibitions/cornelia-parker/ (Accessed 23 May 2017)

Johnson, G. (2009) 1000 ideas for creative reuse: remake, restyle, recycle, renew. Massachusetts. Quarry books.

Mossman, S. (2008) Fantastic plastic: product design and consumer culture. London. Black Dog publishing.

Panchamia, D. (2016) Deepa Panchamia: Paperworks. At: http://deepapanchamia.com/work/paperworks/ (Accessed 23 May 2017)

Quinn, B. (2009) Textile designers at the cutting edge. London. Laurence King publishers.

Renshaw, L. (2009) Textiles handbook: Mixed media & found materials. London. A&C Black.

Seo, D. (2011)  Upcycling: Create beautiful things with the stuff you already have. London. Running press.

Spuybroek, L. (2011) Research and design: Textile tectonics. Rotterdam. NAi publishers.

Thittichai, K. (2014) Reclaimed textiles: techniques for paper, stitch, plastic and mixed media. London. Batsford.

Waters, L. (2011) ‘Interview with Cornelia Parker’ [online] In: The white review: Art. September 2011. At:  http://www.thewhitereview.org/art/interview-with-cornelia-parker/ (Accessed 23 May 2017)

Zilber, E. (2015) Crafted: Objects in flux. Exhibition catalogue. Boston. Museum of fine arts publications.

Part 5, Stage 1 – Review

16 May 2017

 

Part 5, Stage 1 – Review

This final assignment of the course is designed as an opportunity to bring together all the learning within the Mixed Media for Textiles module. It is a chance to consolidate practices, combine methods and take them further; to explore and be creative. 

I was pleased that the course notes encourage students to consider the final piece as prototypes or maquettes. The fact that there is an empasis on experimentation promotes a relaxed and open approach to risk taking.

I decided that I would start by concentrating on the “sorting” stage from each assignment. Mixed media for textiles is my third level one course, and I am now sufficiently confident in my down selection selection process.

 

To recap:

Part 1 was a series of samples selecting 10 exercises from the following projects/categories:

  1. Folding and crumpling
  2. Tearing and cutting
  3. Heating and fusing
  4. Scratching and embossing
  5. Puncturing and stitching
 
These exercises generated lots of samples. The techniques which I found most stimulating were Project 2, exercise 5 “creating flaps” (Along with the related technique of Project 2, exercise 4 “cutting holes”) and Project 5, exercise 2 “stitching”. 
 
Below are the samples from project 2, exercise 5 which I selected as most inspiring and promising for development – from left to right: samples 3, 4 and 5:-
 
Light_differently.jpgSmall_roll.jpgBlinds_from_front.jpg
 
I found that many of my samples could be enhanced by the use of lighting to heighten shadow and tonal contrast. I also found that part of their appeal was that they could be configured into a variety of three dimensional shapes. These pieces also have an element of pattern repeat (or at least a suggestion of rhythm).
 
In Project 5, exercise 2, I started to combine ideas of stitching with holes and flaps, exploring the sampling in the context of sutures or surgical stitching. I used stitching to hold back flaps: Project 5, exercise 2, sample 11 (below left) and emphasise the openings of holes: Project 5, exercise 2, sample 12 (below right), referencing the work of Rozanne Hawkins and Ann Wilson.
 
 Shadows2.jpgFlaps_sewn_back.jpg
 
 
This was a topic which I revisited in Part 3, end of project 1 (thinking about how the techniques in parts one or two could be used to embellish or manipulate samples). 
 
I used a papier mache sphere: Part 3, project 1, sample 28 (below left), into which I cut “windows” which I stitched across to bridge the gaps: Part 3, project 1, samples 62-67 (below middle and right):
 
Transparent.jpgSewn_samples1.jpgBookbinders.jpg
 
Again, the appeal for me was the tonal variation created by the different thickness layers of material which constituted the sphere when it was lit from behind. I also liked the idea of cutting holes, to allow viewing of the interior surface of the sphere (and possibly an object placed within it). The papier mache surface reminded me of the skull bones, so it was natural to consider suturing and the bridging of the holes with stitches. However, for me, samples 62-67 did not really move the idea forwards; the investigation was not bold enough – there was insufficient contrast of materials to make the result exciting. In hindsight I should have taken more risks. However, I had already made 61 samples for project 1, and because I didn’t get the balance of allotted time correct, I left myself short of time to explore the idea properly. The same can be said of sample 72:
 
Part 3, project 1, sample 72 was developed from the ideas arising from a latex mould of an aluminium pie dish (part 3, project 1, sample 48, below left). Coloured with red paint, duplicated and pulled and stretched between holes in a cork backing, it reminded my of a grotesque body part, pulled out ready for investigation or dissection (Part 3, project 1, sample 72, below right). I referenced the work of Rozanne Hawksley and the “bodyworks” exhibition of Gunther Hugens.
 
Pie_dish1.jpgFramed1.jpg
 
Although I really like the concept, I do not feel that the development led to a line of enquiry which was sufficiently stimulating or fruitful. The same can be said of the skull bone and suture idea.  I had found out after selecting the latex moulding for development that they discoloured in a way which I didn’t like because it made the moulding less similar to biological tissue. For these reasons, rather than continue and look for an alternative, I have decided to seek an alternative line of enquiry for my final project.
 
 
Part 2 was about joining and wrapping. 
 
From project 1, all of my favourite samples were three dimensional. I like the fact that they could be viewed from different angles, and that in some cases they were configurable. Part 2, project 1, exercise 3, sample 4 is one such example (see below):
 
Cone1.jpg
 
The strength of it’s appeal is its simple geometry, repeating pattern and shadow. Although I feel that the colour choice is not especially important, I do like the pattern created by the two colours being “randomly” placed. The colours are harmonious, so do not detract from the geometry of the circles, their shadows and negative spaces. 
 
Two other stand out samples for me are Part 2, project 1, exercise 5, sample 8 (below left) and Part 2, project 1, exercise 5, sample 9 (below right).
 
 3_circles.jpgView_one.jpg
They appeal for the same reasons as sample 4 of exercise 3, but I feel more excited about their possibilities for development. Both these have the possibility of using contrasting materials on each surface; perhaps a contrast of colour, reflective vs. matt, smooth vs. textured. There is the also possibility of exploring transparency, or surface treatment such as stitching, embossing or scratching. If these samples were to be developed, consideration would also need to be made as to whether they could be scaled up/down, multiplied and joined to make a constructed surface or more complex 3D shape. The sample made with Möbious strips, in particular, is suficiently developed to show strong potential, so I feel confident that I could develop an excellent final piece from this idea.
 
Wrapping encouraged me to move away from realist representation and to become more abstract. In this respect it is especially liberating and fun. Part 2, project 2, exercise 5, sample 5 was my strongest piece (see below):
 
Photo_1_pan.jpg
 
All the elements work extremely well: variation in texture, contrast of thread thickness, orientation of wrapping and especially the colour scheme and colour accents (which are complementary yellow and violet). However, to me this sample is a finished piece, and does not suggest any immediate ways which it could be developed or taken forwards as a line of enquiry. Similarly, whilst I produced some exciting results using Japanese package techniques (part 2, project 2, exercise 2, samples 5-8, it has not prompted any immediate thoughts for a line of enquiry, so at this stage I would probably bear it in mind to bring into my work as an influence rather than basing a project on it.
 
 
In Part 3, I explored moulding and casting. I have already discussed some of the samples which I chose to take forward and develop. Other than these, the samples which most  appealed to me were: 
 
1. Moulding of bubble wrap – Project 1, sample 36 (with Mod Roc) and Silicone)
  Side_1.jpgBehind_lit.jpg
2. Moulding a sample of knitted string
 
Paperclay_knitting.jpgString_closeup.jpg
3. Moulding the surface of a chard leaf
 
Finished.jpgThumb.jpg
 
The bubble wrap moulding are very geometric with strong tonal variation. The moulding of the chard leaf and the silicone moulding of the bubble wrap are interesting because of their fragility. The silicone cast of the knitted string mould, presents a contradiction; in essence capturing the minute textural detail of the source material and translating it to a material with very different properties. In this respect it draws on principle underlying the success of Rebecca Fairley’s concrete mouldings from knitted fabrics.
 
From this group of samples, it is silicone which is standing out as being the most versatile and inspiring. The suggestions of my tutor to look at the work of Laura Simpson and Xiao Li gave me some ideas as to how it might be used in association with textiles to provide contrast and structure in the handling and texture of a fabric. The work of these artists/designers captured my imagination. I feel that it would be interesting to conduct further experiments to investigate the behaviour of silicone moulding in conjunction with other materials. This line of enquiry would no doubt suggest ideas for how it could be used in a final piece, perhaps in combination with other treatments, such as folding, cutting or scratching, depending on the materials. This would be a highly innovative and risky approach which could easily end up taking longer than my allotted time.
 
My favourite sample from Part 3 was sample 6 from project 2 (see below):
 
Casty1.jpg
 
I decided to rule this sample out for further development on the grounds that I do not have the facilities to enable me to do large plaster casts. For this reason, I view the sample as inspirational, rather than being one which I would develop from directly. It shares many of the characteristics from other samples which appeal to me: the concept of holes to enable the interior surfaces to be viewed, strong tonal variation resulting from shadows and a 3D structure viewable from different angles
 
Mono printing and collatype printing was the subject of Part 4. From project 1, my most successful samples were these in which I combined techniques to make a series of related figure prints (see below).
 
Additive.jpgWiping.jpgPrint_2.jpgRework_of_4a.jpg
 
These were prints which I developed from the samples which I produced for project 1, exercise 4 (stencilling). This line of enquiry opened the possibility of using stencils as a means of embossing as well as printing. It also got me thinking about combining mono printing with cutting holes or flaps, to emphasise part of the negative space. An obvious development was to join and fold the individuals prints to make a concertina book. Another thought I had was to consider scratching and distressing part of the surface. Although my results of my surface scratching sampling had been underwhelming in part 1, project 4, exercise 2, I now wondered whether contrasting effects might be achievable in conjunction with printing (either distorting the surface after printing or before printing).
 
Although I achieved some interesting textural results with collatype printing in project 2, I do not feel that these samples present such an interesting line development as the figures which I produced for project 1. Below are my favourite examples: project 2, sample 2a (left) and project 2, sample 3c (right):
 
Fabric1.jpgSample3c.jpg
 
The landscape and portrait prints feel less developed technically and are not suggesting to me a clear line of development. For these reasons, I would favour the figure prints for development.
 
 
Conclusions:
 
From my review of the work I have completed for this module, three possible lines of enquiry have emerged:
 
1. Constructed surface
 
Pros:
  • Themes of three dimensionality, repeating pattern, geometry, light and shadow have consistently featured in samples which I have selected as visually appealing.
  • It offers possibility for investigating and combining surface treatments from other parts of the course.
  • It offers the chance of strengthening what I see as one of my weak areas (i.e. not being sufficiently bold an innovative with material combinations).
  • Sample 9 from Part 2, project 1, exercise 5 (Möbious strips), in particular, is sufficiently visually appealing to be developed in it’s own right.
Cons:
  • It would be easy to get carried away with permutations of shape, surface treatment, materials and scale and run out of time.
  • Overcomplexity of surface runs the risk of detracting rather than enhancing the visual aesthetic.
 
2. Silicone moulding textured surfaces in combination with other materials:
 
Pros:
  • Silicone has proved to be a versatile and interesting material during sampling.
  • There is a strong element of risk an innovation in pursuing this idea.
  • It would push me to explore dissimilar and novel material combinations.
Cons:
  • Moulding with silicone is an area of relative technical novelty for me. It is not a technique which I feel comfortable with, so the project would rely heavily of additional experimentation, which is highly risky.
  • Because my sampling is not well developed/resolved, there are no obvious directions in which to take the development of a final piece at present.
  • This line of enquiry could be seen as simply an extension of the sample-making process, rather than leading to resolution.
 
3. Mono-printed figures in conjunction with other surface treatments
 
Pros:
  • Mono printing is a technique which feel comfortable with and enjoy
  • It utilises my drawing skills (one of my strengths)
Cons:
  • This is the least risky proposal of the three because the idea is already well resolved and I am comfortable with the processes.
  • Less scope for being innovative with materials or material combinations (which is one of my weaknesses).
 
At this stage I have decided to rule out option 3 because it is too safe. Presently, option 2. feels too risky, and probably too large an undertaking for a single assignment of 7 weeks duration. However, at this stage, I haven’t ruled out incorporating it in my final project. In particular, the fragility of surface interests me as does the contrast between very thin areas which are translucents, and thicker, opaque areas.
 
Next, I will conduct some preliminary research along the lines of option 1., reveiwing other practitioners work into constructed surfaces.
 
 

Developing printmaking samples for an exhibition

14 May 2017


The Print and Stitch Group Exhibition – developing my printed samples from Part 4


I belong to a group of printmakers and textile practitioners called The Print and Stitch Group, which was founded in July 2015. We have been working towards our first exhibition in September 2017, on the subject of “Identity”. I used my sampling with fabric stencils which I produced for Project 1 exercise 4, and developed the figure prints in conjunction with techniques of back drawing, mark-making (reductive process) and drawing onto the plate.

The prints for the exhibition are shown below:

 

The first print (above) is a rework of Project 1, exercise 4, sample 4a. First I made a print of the negative space with a burlap stencil, which also gave me the embossing in the white (masked) area. When dry, I used back drawing techniques (project 1, exercise 3, samples 3), to fill in the detail of the figure.

This second print (above) also uses the back drawing technique, this time applied over a ghost print of the stencil plate used in the first print.

The print above is taken from the one of the plates which I used for back drawing. I have used reductive technique (Project 1, exercise 1, mark-making), to remove additional ink from the background areas before printing. The results are similar to project 1, exercise 4, sample 4d, except I have managed to achieve a better transfer of the burlap fabric texture, and I have also been more consistent with my mark-making within the negative space.

This final print (above) was produced by first taking a ghost print from the inked fabric stencil (see project 1, exercise 4, sample 4c before back drawing was added). In a second stage, I then used a paper stencil to mask off and print the negative image. Finally, I used Akua liquid pigment and a needle nib to draw the figure’s outline and clothing onto an acetate sheet, which I printed from using the direct drawing method (project 1, exercise 2, sample 6).

I am really pleased with the way in which I have been able to combine the texture of the burlap into all of these prints in different ways. The common shape, colour and texture of the fabric provides unity to the set, whilst the different methods of printing and line generation provides variety and interest.

I have entitled this series “Covert figure”. In keeping with the theme of the exhibition, I wanted to portray these images in a way which left their identity open to interpretation by the viewer. The way in which the image is framed top and bottom, suggests that the figure is perhaps lurking in a recess, window or balcony. Who they are and why they are waiting is the question which is presented. Their identity is almost hidden; we know the figure is female and have an idea what clothing she is wearing, however there is little else to give us a clue as to her purpose. I hope that this adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to my prints. 

 

I have also produced a second series of mono prints, based on the techniques in project 1, exercise 3, samples 3 (back drawing), in which I used first prints and the ghost prints for background texture before adding detail by drawing into the prints with charcoal.

These three prints (above) were made by drawing into mono prints which were initially very similar to sample 3a from Project 1, exercise 3.

I also took ghost prints from the plates (similar to sample 3b of project 1, exercise 3), and once again draw into these with charcoal to add detail (see below):

I have entitled the series “Blue” (being the name of the model). Although I feel taht there are is some suggestion of domesticity and female vulnerability in the prints, I wanted to keep the title neutral so that the viewer could make their own interpretations of the possible identity and roles of the subject.

In contrast with the “Covert figure” series (A4), these prints are A3 size and are more dramatic and imposing. By incorporating the charcoal over drawing, they have become very distinctive of my artistic style, whilst still retaining some of the subtlety of line from the original printing stage. The printing helps to soften the images, add texture and a feeling of depth and shadow.

The Print and Stitch Group’s exhibition runs 14-20 September 2017 at Aldeburgh Gallery, Suffolk IP15 5AN.

 

Assignment 4 – Reflective commentary

11 May 2017

 

Measurement against assessment criteria

I used the assessment criteria as the benchmark against which to make my critique. I also referred to the course aims and outcomes on page 5 of the notes.

 

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Before starting the assignment, I had only limited experience of mono printing and no experience of collatype. Consequently, I found project 2 more technically challenging than project 1. 

I was careful to limit the number of samples I made for this assignment, so as not to overstretch myself. This made time management easier, and when it came to writing up and analysing my results, I feel that I had achieved a good balance between practical work and analysis.

Initially, I had to overcome technical challenges of finding the right thickness of printing plate to run properly through the press and to understand how to prevent smudging with Akua liquid pigment. Through trial and error, I learnt how much ink to apply, how tacky the ink needs to be, and the correct pressure. These skills can only be acquired empirically, and as result of the exercises, I feel that I have a firm grounding on which to build knowledge and experience.

As well as techniques, the assessment criteria mentions observational skills, visual awareness, design and composition (course notes, page 11). I was pleased that I was able to begin the process of resolving quite a few of my samples, in particular, in the latter states of project 1 and in exercise 3 of project 2. I was sufficiently confident to start combining techniques and to develop multi-stage/layer prints. This proved especially fruitful, and I feel that I have a secure understanding of how to take the methods forward and use them in future in new and different ways. In the collagraph portrait and seascape prints of project 2, exercise 3, I was able to use design and compositional skills to produce balanced and visually interesting prints. 

  

Outcome

In addition to quality of visual output, outcome is also concerned with the application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, the conceptualisation of thoughts and the communication of ideas (course notes, page 11). 

More so than in any of the assignments so far, I feel that my sampling produced pieces which were either more fully resolved, or I could see the direction that they needed to be taken/developed. Sometimes I feel that my sampling produces lots of distinct, disjoint elements without obvious connection or application, but in this assignment, the read across between techniques was clear and straightforward.

My tutor raised a question about a dissonance between my use of colour to represent the samples in my Part 3 sketchbook. I am now confident that I understand the problems and the reasons why certain combinations did not work. I have explained this in a blog post and I do not believe it to be an issue, either in Part 4 or going forward.

 

Demonstration of creativity

This criterion looks for experimentation, invention and development of a personal voice (course notes, page 11).

I found it very easy to generate ideas for this assignment. Perhaps it’s because I have a natural affinity with printmaking? I feel that the loose and expressive style of mark-making fits my creative style, whilst allowing me to exploit my drawing skills.

I have been experimental, but not as much as I would have liked. I had to spend a lot of time understanding ink behaviour, so limited most of my printing to plain paper. More experimental backgrounds I tried included envelope paper, brown paper, paper bag, Japanese paper and cotton muslin. I feel that I had only scraped the tip of the iceberg in this respect and I would desperately like to expand and experiment further.

The ‘sorting’ stage was much more straightforward this time round because the direction in which I need to take/develop samples was clearer. It was also easier to pick out samples with the most potential, because techniques like back drawing, reductive mark making and stencilling are very much in tune with my creative voice/style, so I was naturally drawn to these samples. I am beginning to make mental links between the assignments of this module, especially between printmaking, and surface distortion, joining and wrapping. There are lots of exciting avenues which could be explored in my final project.
 

Context

I have continued with the format of my previous two assignments; completing a detailed piece of research into several artists relevant to the assignment in a dedicated blog post. I have taken on board my tutor’s comment from part 3 and tried to more closely relate each artist’s work to my own practice. I have particularly considered techniques, style and composition, and the emotional response prompted by the use of colour and tone. Although my style of contextual research is quite formal, it is a process which allows me to mentally rationalise and sift the information, and to present it is a format which I can easily a quickly return to and refresh my memory.

The difficulty with presenting research in a separate post (with a password, so as not to breach copyright), is that it is not presented next to the project work/samples to which it relates. I have tried to redress this by mentioning relevant work/practitioners in my write up for stages 2 (sample-making) and 3 (recording outcomes). 

When commenting on the merits of my sampling, I have been especially careful to explain exactly why I find a piece appealing (or otherwise). I have also taken on board my tutor’s comment about recording the emotional response to each piece as well as the technical merits.