In my research for this Part I have identified a number of OCA students who have worked with similar forms – a small group of vessels. I carefully don’t write “similar ideas”. My starting point has been my materials, individually and in combination, and how the resulting objects/vessels interact in space. This is quite different to the artists discussed below, who have all worked from a theme or concept. I’m finding it useful to identify differences as well as similarities. It leads to all sorts of questions to myself about what, why, and what if in my making.
In her work for A Textiles Vocabulary Julie continually returns to her underlying interest in concepts of wear and tear, of loss and fragmentation. She feels an urge to engage emotionally, conceptually, to discover or tell a story.
Left to right: A place the leftover love must go; A place the leftover fear must go; A place the leftover loss must go
The bowls were inspired by words in a poem by Alice Walker, and seem to have been created quite quickly, almost intuitively, letting go and holding on. In textiles Julie may be finding her “form of expression and communication that is less specific, more fluid than words.”
Every element of the bowls has significance. The shapes gently cup, holding and protecting while still open, but vary in detail to suggest rawness of emotion or the round completeness of harmony and growth. Colours express emotion, the stifling, endless darkness of loss, the red of fear and suffering, the yellow and green of renewal and growth. Textures appear more similar, given largely similar materials, but still in the detail there are jagged pain and tendrils of tentative growth.
Julie regards these works as unresolved, as a starting point of exploration. To me they are very satisfying as they are. It will be interesting to see if she returns to this, either these particular bowls or the general theme and techniques. Will elaboration add greater depth or lose that clear, direct communication of emotion?
The presentation of the bowls is a simple rather flat line. It’s a default mode, chosen by Julie to avoid loss of momentum in an ongoing exploration.
This lovely work is the antithesis of my current experimentation. In the past I’ve tended to search for narrative and my final piece for A Creative Approach
was full of emotions – primarily horror and rage (16-Feb-2013
). In contrast this current course module has been extended serious play. It feels right for my final piece to be a continuation of that curiosity and sense of discovery.
Specific posts by Julie:
11-December-2015: On words The poem by Alice Walker and its meaning for Julie.
17-December-2015: When two ideas collideThe three bowls.
4-February-2016: When art and life collideJulie’s insights and bravery deepen.
Anne’s final work for A Creative Approach
began with an idea – the drystone wall as a metaphor for our lives: “we start with bare walls that are embedded with the fossils of our ancestors, and finish with those walls almost obliterated, but in their place is a profusion of wildlife and microhabitats which depend on the underlying structure.” These ideas and subsequent extensive sketching gave a framework to Anne’s development, but in her reflection she concludes that although she would present it as a series, perhaps “Lifelines”, she would probably leave the interpretation of the work to the viewer.
Although connected by theme and a general technique of wrapping and coiling, each vessel in the series takes a different form and uses a range of materials and techniques. There is a progression, from the white, well-shaped vessel of youth to the crumbled mossy stones of age. Underpinned by her research Anne felt free to experiment, opening her mind to new ideas.
Anne put considerable thought into her photographic presentation. I believe the version above was based on a suggestion from her tutor, emphasizing the timeline aspect of her series. Personally I prefer an earlier presentation shown below, taken before the vessels were finalised. The external environment seems a better fit with the theme of drystone walls. The tighter arrangement of the pots means they connect more as a group, and mossy old age wraps around and completes the set. I also like being able to look down into the pots, being able to appreciate their three dimensions and construction.
Anne’s exploratory approach using a range of materials and techniques is closer to my own experiments. Although her theme may be downplayed if exhibited the proposed title of the work would naturally lead the viewer to consider theme possibilities. My plans don’t include such a framework. I need to be careful to ensure a cohesive group – a collection, not a jumble sale. I’ve been imagining my work displayed in a “white box” gallery simulation, perhaps each in its own space separated on plinths of different heights and lighting to produce exciting shadows and sparks of resin. When Sorting and again when displaying my chosen objects I want to remain open-minded on the balance of individual and group presentation.
Specific posts by Anne:
30-November-2015: Drystone Wall Project. Reflections.
Many others describing the progression of work, including 29-November-2015 and 29-November-2015, which shows Anne’s experimental approach and use of sketching in developing ideas and responding to samples.
Katie Taylor is working through Level 3 of the OCA course, and her work is clearly at a different level. She works conceptually, creating sculptural forms using combining materials not usually seen as textiles. This is done in support of her theme, her over-arching interest being in our precarious existence, the fragility of life and death. “I am not interested in making pretty art, I want my work to move the viewer into asking questions, of the work, of themselves, of their own place in the world”, she states.
Katie planned her entire Textiles 3: Your Own Portfolio module as a series of explorations of ideas around women’s social history, death, remnants of what is left and what is after death (5-October-2014). She considered bowls – empty vessels, or coiled and spinning out of control (21-October-2014). Clay impressions brought the focus back to fragility and what is left behind. Presentation was an early consideration (27-November-2014, 25-April-2015). Bowls, spirals and funnels were recurring metaphors. I won’t go step by step through all Katie’s research and development through multiple projects – I recommend her own voice on her blog for that. As a student I’ve found it fascinating to see a body of work being developed using the approach I’m currently learning – for example Sorting, repeatedly (2-July-2015, 16-October-2015).
During the course Katie presented her work in a number of ways:
A simulation of an exhibition, 16-October-2015
Here of note to my own current work is the repetition and connection of very similar but different vessels. I see this presentation as an effective way to give prominence, interest and visibility to the piece, although I think Katie was dissatisfied.
Exhibiting in a group show, with the additional benefit of feedback from other participating artists, 17-November-2015:
Installation view 1
Installation view 2
Vessels comprise the major proportion in number items, but they are combined with other elements that bring variety of form and an expansive use of space. The display follows the walls of the gallery, and individual items are angled to take advantage of the relatively limited viewpoints of the visitor. Most of the vessels allow easy access to their hollow centres – a method that I preferred when looking at Anne Dyke’s work.
A video – not displaying a piece of work, but the work itself. Katie filmed herself spinning paper yarn by the grave of her parents. 6-December-2015.
There is so much in Katie’s work and it is so close and yet so far away from what I am doing. Perhaps my one reservation is the variety. In the exhibition the pieces seem fellow travelers rather than a resolved, coherent collection.
I feel the need to nibble at this in small, digestible chunks, taking on what I can without feeling overwhelmed.
All images reproduced with kind permission of the artists.
T1-MMT-P5-s2 OCA students – Collections of vessels
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 2: Research
OCA students – Collections of vessels