T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view

When busy exploring and producing samples I generally tend to think about possibilities in a very direct way. How can I incorporate this material in my future work? What does this effect suggest to me? Could I get this result in a textile? Lately I’ve noticed a few examples of less direct interpretations.

http://www.theguardian.com/hp-sprout/video/shaping-design-felix-conran is an upbeat ad for the HP sprout workstation featuring young designer Felix Conran. Conran brings paper back into what could be a paper-free design process.
He crumples the paper, scans it with the integrated hardware and software, refines with 3D-modelling software, prints out A and B side moulds on a 3D printer, then presses layers of laminate in it to create a desk tray. The paper crumpling is a direct match to course exercises, and the 3D-modelling and printing in my personal extension explorations.

Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka used an accidental discovery in 3D-modelling software to create a range of seating for Issey Miyake’s stores (see http://www.dezeen.com/2015/04/23/tokujin-yoshioka-3d-software-hexagonal-forms-stools-issey-miyake-stores-milan-2015/. The image on the right is my variant, following the general steps of hexagon surface extruded and top rotated, drawn using 123D Design (free software from Autodesk). I think this shows the possibility of the playful, exploratory approach to surface distortion in the OCA course, using modelling software.

tafe_01The street facade of the TAFE Institute in Railway Square Sydney may be a less successful child of paper folding or design software. It’s certainly currently less resolved. Peering through those faceted windows, the interior fitout seems pretty much complete.

tafe_02At this stage the windows themselves seem a problem needing a solution – something more longterm than the roll of paper towels visible inside on the windowsill to the right. When/if they figure this out, there is promise of some interesting reflections of the mixed architecture in the area.

tafe_03Wandering off topic, I can’t tell what is planned for the awning area. The old arch framing the entryway is still peeling paint and has nothing to do with the shiny new triangular geometry. Perhaps the whole area will be cladded, tucked neatly away.

The examples above show possible indirect use of surface distortion play. They are all design exercises, rather than the more artistic, conceptual and thoughtful responses that draw me and to which I aspire.

Ariana Boussard-Reifel’s work Between the Lines in one sense could be an extension of project 2, exercise 4, cutting holes. Instead it is a deeply meaningful and very relevant work. See art.arianaboussardreifel.com/Between-the-Lines and www.speakingvolumes.net/arianaboussardreifel.html. The work is a response to the racial segregation espoused by white seprematists, it is a plea for unification, for diversity, for the necessity of all to create a meaningful whole.

I’ve mentioned Austin Kleon before in the context of course reading and his book Steal like an artist (15-January-2015). Kleon is poet who makes works by using permanent markers to redact newspaper articles (austinkleon.com/newspaperblackout/ and newspaperblackout.com/). It’s the everyday transformed and given new meaning – both words and space.

I’ve tended to seen cutouts as revealing, showing what is underneath. They can also be concealing – not a window, but a void, meaning removed. Or transforming, creating new meaning. Some intriguing ideas. I hadn’t felt drawn to the cutting holes exercise, but now think I will make it my next exploration.

Moving to a different but related current chain of thought – mixed media and specific disciplines. In the past textile people have agonised over art and craft and feeling excluded or disrepected by fine arts and galleries. Now there’s mixed media and old boundaries are vanishing. I attended a textiles symposium at UTS a couple of weeks back (the post on that is in progress). One speaker, in the UK until recently, spoke of the hoardes of fine arts students trying to get into textiles classes, or practically stalking the textile technicians to get info on processes and techniques. Cecilia Heffer, the organiser of the symposium and curator of the second Tamworth Textile Triennial (art.uts.edu.au/index.php/exhibitions/group-exchange-2nd-tamworth-textile-triennial/), was particularly interested in cross-disciplinary approaches and whether there is a textile way of thinking that brings something fresh and special to other disciplines. Daniel Widrig has spoken about designers blurring boundaries, borrowing tools and technologies (http://www.dezeen.com/2014/03/18/daniel-widrig-3d-printing-design-software-advances/). Alison Carlier has written about a “Drawing Attitude” that goes beyond graphite to be an approach to anything – like the body movements making lines in the air with hot glass (alisoncarlier.com/artwork/3255569_The_Drawing_Attitude_transcriptions_part.html).

The old compartments have dissolved, anything goes. It’s increasingly rare to see longterm dedication, deep exploration of a particular sub-discipline. Artists watch a few videos on youtube, and with fresh eyes and a lack of expectations and traditional restrictions create new insights. Yet in this free-for-all there are still allegiances, adherences to a core. I like that idea. In the rush for the new, the exotic (so dependent on the individual’s background and experience), you can end up with a lot of noisy sameness, with fads and fashions.

Kath Inglis  Mineral Nation (2014) PVC, silver

Kath Inglis
Mineral Nation
(2014) PVC, silver

Language can end up with a lot of sameness and loss of meaning in this race too. Heffer deliberately challenges the boundaries of “textile”, including for example carved pvc by Kath Inglis. I guess I’m ready to learn, but I don’t understand this push. It reminds me of the New Weave exhibition at Object Gallery last year (
http://object.com.au/exhibitions-events/entry/new_weave/). I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was so disappointed. I wanted to see weave taken in new directions. I can see the link to say Jenni Kemarre Martiniello’s glass work that was shown, which referred to the shapes and lines of traditional woven fish baskets (see the video interview at the link given above). “Weave” is such a strong word, so many resonances and variations of meaning and metaphors in our language – yes, respond to that. But some works seemed included at random, and the titles and artists’ statements no help. Evolving, deepening, nuancing, responding … lots of ways to push boundaries. Broadening until nothing is differentiated, anything can be included – what’s the point? There’s no meaning left. Why don’t we just call everything “stuff”. A new exhibition: “Stuff, some but not all related to textiles by reason of material, process, technique, shape, intent, metaphor, artist background or way of thinking”.

I’m ranting. Time to get back to work.

T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion

7 Responses to “T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view”


  1. 1 Nola April 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I enjoyed your rant! It fits nicely into a conversation I’m having in my head and peripherally with other people. People (including some we know) talk about “making art” in textiles as if art is high standard and craft is low standard. I don’t find that a helpful distinction, even though it accepts attitudes from beyond the textile world. Maybe we need to be saying, “is this work artisanal?” (artisan is itself a word being steadily devalued). “Does it represent someone developing a mastery of a process with both technical skills and design?” The works I generally find most powerful combine technical mastery with really effective design, and that takes work and time.

    • 2 fibresofbeing April 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      I used to like the word “artisan”. It seemed to side-step all those debates. Sad if it’s being devalued.
      I’m beginning to think the old saying “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like” isn’t so silly after all.

  2. 3 Lottie May 2, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Thanks for popping over to my blog.

    I enjoyed your rant here. I think you were markedly reserved?!

    Eleanor Duse, who you will know of as the Italian actress, contemporary to Sarah Bernhardt and friends with Isadora Duncan, has been celebrated as an artistic innovator in her field with her creation of a then new technique called ‘elimination of self’ wherein an actress internally connected with the character in order for expression to occur rather than using the accepted set emotions of her time (I think something akin to ‘method acting’). She is quoted as saying, ‘To help, to continually help and share, that is the sum of all knowledge; that is the meaning of art.’

    So perhaps there is still meaning left in the future you worried would become merely ‘stuff’. In a world where people die because of their being seen as different by others shouldn’t we as artists clamour for boundlessness?

    Isn’t the final value indicative of the perceiver rather than the perceived?

    Should we only craft art because it is valued, because it is witnessed, because it can be held against standards?

    I don’t think so. I think we create because we must. Making art is soul stuff, differentiating is cranial stuff. Meaning is simply another word for expression or communication. If someone’s soul voice creates ‘stuff’ let’s celebrate it being out there. Let’s create not destroy.

    I’d love to go and see your “proposed exhibition” says I subversively.

    • 4 fibresofbeing May 2, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      I’ve responded at more length on Lottie’s blog https://thecuriosityoflottie.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/connections/.

      People die because of those who can’t accept difference – not because of the difference itself. They also die because of some who are the same as them, but want to hide it to be accepted themselves by others. Lack of toleration of difference, denial of the right to be different – there’s the problem.

      Value difference, value your own creative work and to hell with the rest, to hell with anyone else’s definitions. Yes!

      Change a definition so you feel you fit in, or to subsume something else – at best woolly thinking, but I think it’s more dangerous than that.

      • 5 Lottie May 3, 2015 at 5:15 am

        Yes yes! Now I can hear the passion.

        This is good. I’m enjoying this.

        Exactly with you now, people who move goal posts steal a lot more than someone’s success. They besmirch everything including themselves. Everything becomes somewhat tarnished.

        Are we now talking motivation? On its darker side: sabotage? This reminds me of a poem by Clarissa Pinkola Estes… back to mine…


  1. 1 Recusancy | The Curiosity of Lottie Trackback on May 2, 2015 at 6:18 am
  2. 2 T1-MMT-P1-p2-e4 Cutting holes | Fibres of Being Trackback on May 7, 2015 at 11:10 pm

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