Archive for March, 2016

T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

The goals I set when starting Mixed Media for Textiles (20-Mar-2015) were:

  • Make the course my own.
  • Take risks and challenge myself.
  • Surprise myself.
  • Enjoy myself.

For me the course has been an outstanding success on all of these. I have taken sidetracks, for example into 3D printing and the 3D pen. I have interpreted various requirements to suit my own interests, such as exploring presentation as prototype/maquette-making in stage 6 of the final assignment. My attitude to risk and failure has changed dramatically, actively seeking to push boundaries and seeing failures, whether opportunities or not worth following up, as a normal part of the process. My confidence has soared. It’s been a very busy, enjoyable, engaging, revealing year.

The working process provided in the course seems a very good fit to my personal preferences. The cycle of Research – Sample making – Recording – Sorting, always experimenting and exploring, works well. Sometimes in practice rather than a well defined sequence the different stages seem to overlap, but I think that actually there are micro-cycles of making-recording-sorting happening in virtually every work session, while research is ongoing. A workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016) gave me a way of developing my own briefs, and the combination of process and self-generated briefs offers a way of working in the future that really excites me.

One of the most satisfying parts of the course has been taking new materials and techniques and developing them across assignments. For example:

  • Failed plastic bags producing a dribbly mess plus interesting samples – p3-33 (14-Sep-2015)
  • Plus a quick sample with the dregs of resin coating a leaf – p3-37 (also 14-Sep-2015)
  • Plus a mixing stick left in the resin pot which had developed a little “foot” of resin (not photographed)
  • Was combined with a heat-distorted organza sample from an earlier assignment – p1-75 (21-Apr-015)
  • To create a new sample, p3-46 (23-Sep-2015).
  • Building to a new technique that could be used in further samples, such as p5-4 (31-Jan-2016)

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That development merged with a different sequence:

  • Crumpling and shaping paper, for example p1-15 (30-Mar-2015)
  • Was used with mono-printing, p4-32 (27-Oct-2015), to create additional texture and pattern in the print.
  • That sample was later reformed in a vessel shape and dribbled with resin (see earlier sequence) to create sample p5-3, part of my final collection (31-Jan-2016)

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Sketchbook work has been integral through most areas of the course from initial research (for example 20-Mar-2015), recording samples (such as sample p2-2, 6-Jun-2015), an exploration of mark-making, media and scale (28-Sep-2015), developing ideas for sample development (included on page 047 15-Feb-2016). I struggled with maintaining a sketchbook during the printing of assignment 4 (one exception was developing the design for print p4-37, 3-Nov-2015), but refocused and came back strongly during assignment 5 (for example page 015, posted 10-Jan-2016). I extended my skills in additional workshops, for example mixed media with Graham Marchant (24-Jan-2016) and a mind-opening workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016, the results ongoing as seen page 054, 27-Feb-2016). Through these and more I have experimented with a wide range of media and substrates.

Print p4-36

Print p4-36

Research informs and underpins a lot of the work done in this course, together with large sections which have been more materials led experimentation. Research on Degas (22-Oct-2015), including an attempt to copy directly from his work (print p4-36, posted 27-Oct-2015) helped me work through initial problems and discouragment in the printing assignment.

p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

Encouragment from my tutor, Rebecca Fairley, to really pick apart my research material to learn from it, bore fruit in my work on Gillian Lowndes (26-Feb-2016). The watercolour sketch shown here (posted 31-Jan-2016) was one of many based on Lowndes work, and shows a piece that was pivotal in my presentation efforts in the final assignment.

Lorna Murray Making Space 2014 Detail, inset full view

Lorna Murray
Making Space
2014
Detail, inset full view

As well as focused research based on specific coursework I enjoy going to galleries, exhibitions, museums, lectures and so on, and as well as general enrichment these often provided insights relevant to my course. For example Lorna Murray’s work seen at the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial (22-May-2015) became relevant research for joining straight edges with a gap (14-Jun-2016), and in this Reflection I realise would also have been of interest to my development of a collection.

Interaction with other OCA students has been of growing importance to my experience of distance study. I read many blogs, maintaining a blog roll at http://fibresofbeing.blogspot.com.au/ and there are ongoing relationships via comments and in general discussion on the OCA textiles forum. More directly various students have assisted me during this course, for instance allowing me to include their work in research (7-Feb-2016), responding to a request on the Forum for research suggestions, and after another request giving thoughtful feedback on my video attempts (including 5-Feb-2016).

My time management has been strong throughout this course and I believe that is both a cause and an effect of relatively low stress levels and high enjoyment factor over the year. The course promotes experimentation and sampling, which really has no defined end. From the start I have had an overall timetable, which has become more detailed when working on a particular section, down to weekly and sometimes daily goals. I stop when I run out of time (making sure there’s sufficient time left to complete wrap-up, blog posts etc). I’ll be submitting this assignment two weeks after the original date set, a follow-on from an extra two weeks taken on printing and year end break. There will always be loose ends, more I wish I’d done, more ideas and enticing paths to explore. I could always do better – but at the cost of not doing something else. I think this is worth recording, because it’s something I want to hold on to.

Assessment criteria
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Throughout the course I have tried to give care and attention to my making. I have a range of textile skills built up over the years and working in mixed media gave me the opportunity to adapt those and develop more.

Sample p5-12 In progress

Sample p5-12 In progress

Not all experiments have been successful. An interim stage of sample p5-12 (23-Feb-2016) had a beautiful simplicity, an intriguing shape, and I was very tempted to stop at that point. However I had further development planned and felt impelled to take the risk. The final result is problematic. It was useful to give height in group presentation, it provides a link between plaster, resin and organza samples. However there are technical flaws and clumsy elements. It is much less satisfying as an object in itself.

Sample p2-3 a

Sample p2-3 a

Composition and attractive presentation of work, especially using photography in this blog, has been a goal from the beginning of the course (shown is joining sample p2-3, 6-Jun-2015).

Sample p5-43

Sample p5-43

This led to the decision to make photographic and video presentation of my collection of samples the final work in Assignment 5, including photo sample p5-43 (12-Mar-2016).

Quality of outcome
This blog has remained the mainstay of my presentation of work. Feedback on its organisation and ease of navigation has been positive, and it’s certainly a central part of my creative work, recording almost eight years of explorations.

Recently I have added video to my presentation methods and I see that as a valuable addition to writing and photographs. During the course I have also created a series of pinterest boards, which allow easy collation of inspiration and potential research subjects and also a quick method for me to trace back to specific samples.

Demonstration of creativity

p5-sketch with 3D pen - sample p5-7

p5-sketch with 3D pen – sample p5-7

Sample p2-6 Side view

Sample p2-6 Side view

Mixed media for textiles has provided a lot of opportunities to experiment with materials. My approach has been to work repeatedly with a relatively small set, finding new variations. For example drawing in plastic filament with a 3D pen allowed creation of new work, such as p2-6 (11-Jun-2015) and provided a means of sketching / recording / focusing on other samples, as seen in a sketch of sample p5-7 (6-Mar-2016). I believe this approach both stretches and deepens my skills and knowledge.

As well as exploring a particular material it has been rewarding to use multiple materials creating related visual effects. For example there are many samples using corrugations. There were holes cut and shadow lines in cardboard in assignment 1 (including p1-129, 7-May-2015), corners in assignment 2 (p2-25, 27-Jun-2015), a similarity of form in a more ambitious join in p2-5 (7-Jun-2015), molded, distorted, stitched corrugations in composimold in assignment 3 (p3-33, 6-Sep-2015), at a stretch one could include the accordion pleated printing of p4-32 in assignment 4 (27-Oct-2015) but actual printing on corrugated cardboard (28-Sep-2015) is a better fit with the theme, and finally, in my opinion most beautifully, in plaster in assignment 5 (p5-11, 23-Feb-2016).

Context
I find the process of reflection in this blog an important part of seeing, focusing, on work done. During the final Part of the course I used a physical sketchbook in a more consistent way, but also periodically uploaded and reflected on each page. I have found it very useful to look at the work after a short break, with fresh eyes.

Sample p2-79_Completed

Sample p2-79_Completed

As described above my research has included both in-depth analyses and more casual influences. One interesting exercise which was based on a combination of multiple fragments of research was wrapping an outdoor space, marking the changing boundary of light and shadow (sample p2-79, 31-Jul-2015). The link to the wrapping topic was perhaps tenuous, but it led to some intriguing ideas and outcome. With hindsight one can detect my ongoing interest in exploring space.

Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

Another ongoing thread is based in the work of Eva Hesse. I did initial research on this artist in the context of joining and wrapping (7-Jun-2015) and a response to her work can be seen in sample p2-4 (a separate post 7-Jun-2015). Hesse’s work was again relevant to my research in Part 5, looking at collections of vessels. As detailed in my reflection of that Part (27-Mar-2016) that research is ongoing.

“Ongoing”. Having reflected on the past year’s work it feels very appropriate to finish with that word, because that is what I want to do. Go on. It’s just not clear to me on what path. As described previously there are loose ends (20-Mar-2016), and as detailed above I feel this course has equipped me with a process to continue explorations. I know I am interested in objects and space. There’s another strand around art movements of the 20th century, both mainstream art history and the fibre arts movement. On the other hand I am not at all interested in working in fashion or furnishings, nor in colour forecasts which seem relevant primarily in those fields. I have learnt and grown so much studying with OCA, and in particular in this course. I enjoy structured learning, partly because I often discover more than I expect in things I thought I wasn’t interested in. But there is only so much time. I’m not sure which way ongoing lies.

T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 7: Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Part 5

Having reached the end of the coursework it’s now time to reflect on this Part and the course as a whole.

Conscious of loose ends (20-Mar-2016), having remained experimental and exploratory, this moment feels anti-climactic. I can’t point at something as the culmination of a year’s work.

What is my final piece?

I started with the idea of a collection of vessels, and there was a deliberate choice (10/1/2016) to take on the challenges of bringing more varied works together in an effective way. I have returned to that choice, questioned it, tested it, many times during the work. I anticipate that exploring the implications around this will be an ongoing strand of investigation and interest.

Reviewing work in previous parts of the course generated a huge number of ideas for potential development. My goals became more focused – using materials already identified, combine ideas from multiple parts of the course, a collection where the whole is more than the sum of the parts, to edit fiercely (18-Jan-2016). I wanted to make the spaces between just as important as the individual pieces.

I found the volume of ideas identified in the review stage almost overwhelming, a feeling that has resurfaced during this Reflection. There are so many leads unexplored, I can feel myself resisting the sweep of the course, the need to tidy up and move on. I want to move In.

Sketchbook work: The sketchbook has been a central element of my work during this Part. I’ve been much more consistent in adding to it and using it to record, to plan, to think. I’ve met my goal set at the beginning of the Part (10-Jan-2016) to step up effort in this area.

There are many examples of ideas captured and explored in the sketchbook which were later developed in samples. For example ideas on page 043, blogged 8-Feb-2016 were realised in sample p5-10 (blogged 14-Feb-2016) and based on earlier research of work by other OCA students. My sample is a woven rather than coiled basket, but materials and the use of heat distortion were as first envisaged.

I need to keep extending the range of media I use in sketching – for example I tend to avoid wet media due to extra time and mess involved. Building signatures of a book as I went will help in binding for submission but reinforces the use of the default white cartridge paper.

Research: In tutor feedback to the previous assignment Rebecca recommended I really pick apart my research material. My research on Gillian Lowndes (26-Feb-2016 and numerous appearances in sketchbook and blog) was pivotal in the approach to the final presentation stage. Her use of space, volume and dynamic line is thrilling. In her work it looks effortless, inevitable, but my inexperience and struggles were very apparent.

I haven’t been able to show the work done to date on Eva Hesse, objects and 20th century art history. Reading progresses on multiple texts – Eva Hesse: 1965; Part Object Part Sculpture; Eva Hesse: One More than One; On abstract art. From a coursework and assessing point of view that’s a problem – there’s been influence on my thinking and making, but I’m not at a stage to make a coherent summary and provide evidence of that. Tant pis. That workstream is ongoing, and the personal value remains.

As well as going more deeply in some areas I’ve continued to look and read widely, but a certain flavour is becoming apparent. Gillian Lowndes, Claire Falkenstein (11-Mar-2016), Eva Hesse, June Schwarcz – strong women, quirky sculptural work.

Taking risks:

Sample p5-4

Sample p5-4

Sample p5-4, inspired by research on June Schwartz, seemed risky, “out there” and unpromising at one point (28-Jan-2016). When recording the sample my attitude to it was ambivalent (31-Jan-2016). Having worked with it extensively later in the assignment I’m amazed now to read my earlier comments – I find it dynamic and exciting, very useful to create movement and links in compositions, and the materials and methods used seem a totally reasonable development of previous work. My appetite and perception of risk seem to have changed entirely.

Sample p5-7

Sample p5-7

Sample p5-7 (14-Feb-2016) is an example of risk layered on risk. It began as sample p3-50, rope encased in plaster. It was “developed” into p3-53 (1-Oct-2015), using repeated throws onto a cement floor. In the current Part the remains were further developed using layers of dribbled resin to create a bowl form (14-Feb-2016).

p5-sketch with 3D pen - sample p5-5

p5-sketch with 3D pen

It could be termed a failure, partly due to technical issues – grainy resin, large sections of plastic mold remain embedded, structurally unsound… but an interesting and different version of the basic vessel shape, full of voids and protrusions. It was later taken still further, “sketched” using the 3D plastic pen (6-Mar-2016).

My post presenting p5-7, 14-Feb-2016, provides a representative mix of risks, successes and failures. There are leaps of development from earlier samples, pushing the properties of my chosen materials.

Sample p5-9 with internal led

Sample p5-9 with internal led

A development of casting plaster in cable knitting led to an exciting sample. Using same fabric and the same glass vessel for a mold as used for the internal shaping in plaster earlier produced a clumsy, static sample in resin with molding materials permanently attached. Some internal lighting saves this sample from complete failure, but it was of no use in the later presentation stage.

Sorting - extended set

Sorting – extended set

Presentation of work: I chose to make presentation of my samples the focus of my “final piece”. This involved a series of photography sessions using compositional ideas developed based on research. In additional to Part 5 samples I felt free to include work from earlier Parts of the course (see Sorting, 28-Feb-2016).

The most influential research was of Gillian Lowndes (26-Feb-2016). A way to get deeper into the research, to pick it apart as recommended by my tutor, was given in a workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016). The insights gained provided a means of moving beyond the balanced centre-of-the-page compositions I had been stuck on – as noted by tutor Rebecca Fairley.


The transition from Lowndes’s work on the left above to mine on the right looks strongly derivative, but there was actually quite a journey in selecting my background and props, and this was one of many arrangements.

Sample p5-11 series

Sample p5-11 series


Sample p5-14

Sample p5-14

The journey actually started by questioning once again my choice of variety in objects (6-Mar-2016). It then moved on to a very static, centralised arranagement.

Sample p5-25

Sample p5-25

However some combinations of greater interest were achieved, and reflection in the sketchbook helped me move further.

Sample p5-41

Sample p5-41

Sample p5-38 b

Sample p5-38 b

Experimentation included black and white photographs and different viewing angles(12-Mar-2016).

Sample p5-54

Sample p5-54

Works seen in different exhibitions reminded me of the wrapping exercises earlier in the course, and led to another photo variation (18-Mar-2016).

I have printed a number of the photographs on A3 glossy paper for submission to assessors. They look much better in that medium than in blog-sized versions. Recent sketchbook work (not yet posted) has identified the appeal of photographs printed onto watercolour paper and I hope to produce some prints taking advantage of that texture before finalising my submission.

Experiments with video provided another means of experimentation with presentation. Early attempts were focused on recording individual samples – 2-Feb-2016 and 19-Feb-2016. A more ambitious video presented a number of samples arranged in space, 15-Mar-2016. I see significant improvements from each video to the next, the final presentation involving multiple splices of shorter segments of video and a separately recorded narration. There remains a lot of room for improvement, partly related to equipment, software and skills, but also a lighter more fun-filled style may have provided better results.

With that overview I now consider the assessment criteria.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Samples p5-4 p5-11 and p5-12

Samples p5-4 p5-11 and p5-12

In this Part I brought forward materials and techniques used throughout the course. This allowed me to use and extend skills already developed. I was particularly pleased with the plaster casting samples which echoed work with corrugated cardboard earlier in the course.

My compositional skills were put to the test in presenting a varied group of objects. Based on research my focus was on asymmetry, on creating a dynamic almost precarious sense. I believe the resulting work shows ongoing development of skill.

Quality of outcome
The use of video has been a valuable addition to my presentation of work. Especially given my interest in more sculptural work, video allows me to give a more complete presentation of the substance of pieces. I hope the narrations also give a better sense of my engagement with the work and the qualities I perceive in the pieces.

This blog remains the main means of presenting my work, and on a personal basis I refer back to it frequently. I post quite often, finding that recording and reflection an important part of my process. In this Part every page of the sketchbook has been shown and commented upon. Initially I wondered if this would be unprofitable double-work, but I have found it a beneficial addition. My hope is that this also improves communication of my ideas and development.

Demonstration of creativity
I have never seen anything quite like my quirky vessels, and I believe they demonstrate an inventive and playful approach to creativity. This course has encouraged experimentation, exploration, risk-taking, and I am personally convinced that I have flourished in this environment.

Rather than looking at particular samples, I believe my growing personal voice is evidenced in my discussion of Loose Ends (20-Mar-2016). There are strands of enquiry, a path of development, I want to pursue.

Context
While incomplete (see Reading below), I believe my research in this Part has been more focused, deeper and more relevant to the work I have been doing. There have been many small influences, an idea here and there (pinterest board at pinterest.com/fibresofbeing/vessels/), and a few major sources that I am sure will continue to inspire me. I feel that my internal artistic life / approach / understanding is becoming richer.

A number of times during this course, particularly when reflecting, I have felt vulnerable, in some way tempting fate by being too pleased with myself. I obviously still feel the need to acknowledge this. But I also have a growing confidence in my self, my work, my path. More on this when I reflect on the course as a whole.

Ongoing Reading

Fer, B. (1997) On abstract art New Haven and London: Yale University Press
Gaßner S., Kölle B., Roettig P. (Eds) (2013) Eva Hesse: One More than One Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag
Molesworth, H. (Ed.) (2005) Part Object Part Sculpture Colombus: Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University
Rosen, B. (Ed.) (2013) Eva Hesse 1965 New Haven and London: Yale University Press

T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Part 5
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 7: Reflection – Part 5

T1-MMT-P5-s6 Loose ends

I’ve reached the end of the time I’d allocated for Stage 6 – Prototype/maquette-making. In Stage 5, Sorting (28-Feb-2016) I set the goal of developing my collection and use groups of vessels in exploring space and presentation. This approach allowed me to keep sampling and exploring right to the end – which in effect makes “end” an inaccurate term.

Rather than “ending” with Stage 7 Reflection, I really want to do another round of Sorting, and then some more Sampling. That’s what this course has been training me to do in my future practice, and fits so well with Ruth Hadlow’s model of practice as a series of strands of investigation, like currents in a river (25-Feb-2016). With on-going exploration / experimentation / sampling in each strand, a particular exhibition represents the state of investigation at that point. Rather than an exhibition I will be presenting the current state of my investigations as part of assessment.

But I’m not finished! This post is to record some strands I want to return to, after all the business of writing up reflections, preparing my submission to tutor, then adjusting as advised for assessors.

Vessels and material exploration: having learnt with Lissa de Sailles to make paper yarn (19-Mar-2016) I am very interested in the possibilities it brings, and started a little basket-based object using some of the plastic horsehair.

Final sample

Final sample

Final sample version 2

Final sample version 2

There are connections to coursework in the plastic, the use of wrapping in the initial version (reminiscent of the wooden spoon shape! 16-Jul-2015), the use of basketmaking techniques seen in final samples (p5-5 31-Jan-2016 and p5-10 14-Feb-2016).

The newspaper yarn brings something quite new.

Final sample detail

Final sample detail

The look is so textile-like! I want to push the millimetre by millimetre deft wrist spinning technique with lots of different materials. So far it’s only been newspaper and copy paper (marketing from an insurance company). What about spinning a painting or drawing? Or… well not for this course. I’ve called it the final sample, but not allocated a number because really it’s the first sample of a whole new exploration.

I’ve already mentioned that research on Eva Hesse is ongoing. It’s not ready for a neat post, so will miss being presented within this course. Related at least in part to that is other reading – Part Object Part Sculpture, edited by Helen Molesworth. I’ve been writing of my work as vessels and objects. What is sculpture, and is that where I’m headed?

This week I saw a work that attempted sculpture using scent – I think. The artist, Dane Mitchell (http://www.danemitchell.co.nz/) participated in a panel discussion and described his work as showing “non-presence”. He explores the senses as a sculptural material, creating objects that take shape in the brain. He’s interested in making tangible, physical, aspects of the unseen. In a sense in the discussion Mitchell kept his scope contained, unlike the more grand responses to the theme Embassy of Spirits (this was all part of the Sydney Biennale). Is there something for me in this???

Other Biennale work was by Jumana Manna and involved film and sculpture (https://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/20bos/artists/jumana-manna/). I’m hoping to find time to post some brief research on that within this course. My note here is on the combination of multiple media. My photography / video / lighting skills have not given the results I wanted in this part of the course. This is definitely an ongoing strand of learning and exploration.

With that captured for the future, I now feel able to turn to the important business of reflecting on the recent past – Assignment 5, and Mixed Media for Textiles as a whole.

T1-MMT-P5-s6 Loose ends
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 6: Prototype/maquette-making
Loose ends

T1-MMT-P5 Sketchbook update 20-Mar-2016

It’s been a while since the last sketchbook update (27-Feb-2016), although quite a few part pages have been shown with associated sampling/recording work.

p5-sketchpage 061 20160227

p5-sketchpage 061; 20160227


The above page based on work by Eva Hesse appeared at the beginning of stage 6, when I reflected on the power of working with repetitive forms (6-Mar-2016).

p5-sketchpage 062 20160228

p5-sketchpage 062; 20160228

In the same post I showed this work planning some early composition ideas.

p5-sketchpage 063 20160228

p5-sketchpage 063; 20160228

Also in that post was the 3D pen sketch and the simulation of repeated forms. Not previously shown were some tablet-based sketches, done sitting beside a garden waiting for car repair.

p5-sketchpage 064 20160304

p5-sketchpage 064; 20160304

This and the next three pages were recording and thinking of potential developments to my collection photographs, and were shown when recording the original photos (6-Mar-2016).

p5-sketchpage 065 20160304

p5-sketchpage 065; 20160304

p5-sketchpage 066 20160305

p5-sketchpage 066; 20160305

p5-sketchpage 067 20160305

p5-sketchpage 067; 20160305

p5-sketchpage 068 20160306

p5-sketchpage 068; 20160306

I realised that a lot of my attention was being given to the slabs used to provide height and thus precarious situations. Looking for possibilities led to Ursula von Rydingsvard’s work (http://www.ursulavonrydingsvard.net/). Above is a very inaccurate sketch based on a detail of Can’t Eat Black (link).

This helped me to identify my desire for layering with more depth and texture, a need met with broken tiles in concrete (12-Mar-2016).

p5-sketchpage 069; 20160309

p5-sketchpage 069; 20160309

A page throwing around ideas.

Photographing pieces in moving water wasn’t attempted – the setup seemed too difficult and I was concerned about the risk to my equipment. However there was a brief experiment with black and white photography (12-Mar-2016) and considerably more with wrapping (18-Mar-2016).

p5-sketchpage 070; 20160310

p5-sketchpage 070; 20160310

Sketches of p5-39 and p5-42 (12-Mar-2016) helped identify and extract some elements that pleased me.

p5-sketchpage 071; 20160311

p5-sketchpage 071; 20160311

This and the next page were drawn after writing up the second photo shoot (12-Mar-2016) in preparation for the third (written up 15-Mar-2016). I actually took the pages out to the garage with me and referred to them as I was working.

p5-sketchpage 072; 20160312

p5-sketchpage 072; 20160312

p5-sketchpage 073; 20160313

p5-sketchpage 073; 20160313

I mentioned ongoing research of Eva Hesse 6-Mar-2016. A couple of scattered quotes are in the sketchbook as reading continues. This passage linked to my black and white photographs, wondering if the elements of strong colour in my collection were unbalancing or dominating it.

The lower part was working on a photograph – p5-52 – as a way of thinking about what was working and what could be developed. That helped me work on plain paper, trying to extract what I was seeing. A bit more movement, some diagonals, in the main elements could ramp up this image.

p5-sketchpage 074; 20160314

p5-sketchpage 074; 20160314

A step back, looking at the collection as a whole. This is based on a still from the video. In black conte crayon (see note on colour above), I enjoyed exploring the different shapes together.

p5-sketchpage 075; 20160316

p5-sketchpage 075; 20160316

At the top is a collage planning the wrapping of my collection (see 18-Mar-2015), at the bottom one of the wrapped samples drawn in colour pencil.

In the middle is another quote about Hesse, this time about her “thinking about what an object might be”. That question is really engaging me at the moment.

p5-sketchpage 076; 20160319

p5-sketchpage 076; 20160319

Playing around with biro and coloured pencil.

First I drew lines based on the threads wrapping some of the samples. Then I started colouring, with a vague recollection that only three colours are needed to colour a map with no colour the same on both sides of a border. I thought this simplification of the line drawing might reveal an unexpected pattern. It does create some order in what was a chaotic set of lines. This seems quite a good method for beginning an abstract design development, not unlike the design development for printing that I did with Claire Brach (31-Dec-2015).

T1-MMT-P5 Sketchbook update 20-Mar-2016
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Sketchbook update 20-Mar-2016

T1-MMT-P5 Lissa de Sailles basketry workshop

The subtitle for this workshop was Korean hanji paper coiled baskets and it was at a lovely venue in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Step one was making our cord from strips of hanji paper. Pinch at the right points, a deft twist of the wrist – and you have two ply cord! A tiny amount of cord, but repeat many times and you’ll eventually have a metre or two.

We used waxed linen thread and tried a couple of different stitches to make our baskets.

Class results:

Lissa de Sailles class group photo

Lissa de Sailles class group photo

Quite a variety of lovely small objects.

Lissa de Sailles class 1This is my finished piece – all of 3.4 cm high. The little bobbles on the side were my innovation (in the class – I’m sure I’ve seen such things in the past). This one used buttonhole stitch.

Lissa de Sailles class 2My second piece remains unfinished. This used a whip stitch to create a spiral effect, and I started used a second colour hoping to accentuate the spiral.

A very pleasant day, learning with companionable people in lovely surrounds (my vessel collection could look great photographed in the succulent garden).

spinning carrier bags

spinning carrier bags

For me the big takeaway is the paper cord making. Recently I’ve been paper spinning using drop spindles.

Carrier bags were do-able, if rather large and uneven.

spinning carrier bag and newspaperNewspaper I just couldn’t manage. I tried on its own and a kind of ply with carrier bag, hoping to gain a bit of strength, and it was just nasty. Unusable.

Results using the deft wrist method (I don’t know a formal name for the technique):
spun newspaperEasy. Strong and even (maybe even too even for some applications). I think you can still tell the yarn’s origins.

I have no immediate purpose for this. The original drop spindle work was more avoidance / brain recovery in the final push for the OCA course. Still, I am convinced this is going to Come In Handy.

Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Lissa de Sailles basketry workshop
T1-MMT-P5 Lissa de Sailles basketry workshop

T1-MMT-P5-s6 Wrapping

I’ve written about Mugugalurgarra (conceal) by Jonathan Jones, one of the most powerful and meaningful uses of wrapping that I have ever seen (17-Mar-2016).

A few days after the Canberra trip I was in the Art Gallery of NSW where installation of work by Sheila Hicks had begun in preparation for the Sydney Biennale.

Sheila Hicks Installation in progress

Sheila Hicks
Installation in progress


Sheila Hicks  Installation in progress

Sheila Hicks
Installation in progress

The work itself uses wrapping as a technique, but in these photographs the pieces have additional coverings of heavy plastic. Some appears to be related to transportation, but most was simply protecting the work overnight (I was in the gallery for an evening lecture).

The wrapping mutes the bright colours, makes the shapes more anonymous, more uniform.

Could I use that idea with my collection? I’ve written about the attraction / interest of repetition with slight variations, done a simulation (6-Mar-2016). Could wrapping give an additional level of uniformity, a different way of seeing my objects?

p5-sketchpage 074 20160316 partialI sketched out the idea with a small collage.

As well as providing a different perspective on the collection, I was really attracted to an idea that linked back so strongly to an earlier part of the course.

It was interesting to see my own difference in approach. In the wrapping assignment I simply tried things, experimented. This time I had a goal – present these particular objects differently. It meant I had a purpose in auditioning and selecting materials. I started with the base assumption of heavy plastic, thinking back to work by Christo. It didn’t meet my objective of greater uniformity of objects in different materials and was quickly discarded.

Given the material used in the earlier sketch / collage, I then turned to brown paper. Heavy paper lost a lot of detail of the forms, and I decided that I didn’t want the pieces to become too anonymous. A major point of the vessels was experimenting with space, the positive and negative spaces of the collection, and I didn’t want to lose that. Lighter weight paper could be crumpled (another nice echo from throughout the course), molded around the objects. For binding I chose a hairy linen thread, fairly fine. I liked the lines created in the wrapping – a good balance between distinct but not too intrusive and disrupting the semi-anonymity.

Sample p5-54

Sample p5-54
Click image for larger view

I took 98 photographs and the one above is the best of the bunch. I do not find it interesting or exciting.

Are the surrounds too busy? Is it lack of photography skills? Poor composition? The initial wrapping a bad idea? All these and more?

I like the process from inspirations through to making. I just don’t know how to make the result interesting.

Darn.

T1-MMT-P5-s6 Wrapping
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 6: Prototype/maquette-making
Wrapping

T1-MMT-P5 Canberra exhibitions

Recently I went to Canberra for the weekend, visiting a number of exhibitions.

Tom Roberts The Golden Fleece (1894)

Tom Roberts
The Golden Fleece (1894)

Tom Roberts at the National Gallery of Australia (link).

Roberts (1856 – 1931) is a widely known and loved painter in Australia. He painted country and city scenes, landscapes and portraits. He was versatile, a creative thinker, a leader and mentor among artists. Robert’s paintings are iconic, helping to form national identity, celebrating the country and the people working in it.

More correctly, Robert’s images show one aspect of Australia’s identity. The imagery and the story was very different at exhibitions at the National Museum of Australia.

Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum (link).

I was prepared to be angry about this exhibition. Objects acquired often in shady if not always violent circumstances, so deeply and personally important to people living in Australia but destined to return to their “owners”, stored out of sight or displayed for their anthropologic or exotic interest. (I’m a beneficiary of invasion, so yes, glass houses).

The exhibition was different. It was a collaborative project, including research and community engagement. Vibrant, rich, living cultures were celebrated. Individuals and communities were allowed a voice, and given the opportunity to learn about the objects, to reconnect with their heritage. Ongoing pain and sorrow were expressed, as well as celebration and pride.

There’s an associated conference on this week – “explor[ing] how Indigenous communities and museums are re-thinking relationships with colonial collections – questioning and confronting the legacies of colonialism in creative and unexpected ways.” (http://www.nma.gov.au/whats-on/events/new_encounters_conference).

As a textile lover and a maker the ancient and modern objects were fascinating, as were the videos showing recent workshops and teaching events.

So much more positive than I anticipated.

Except… in the end the objects will return to the UK. Maybe there is a will for change, but power remains unequal.

Unsettled: Stories within http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/unsettled

Sited next to Encounters in the Museum was an exhibition of works by leading Indigenous Australian artists responding to Encounters.

Mugugalurgarra (conceal) by Jonathan Jones blew me away (link). Objects from the National Museum’s collection, acquired from his homeland, were wrapped in pages of a 1878 text The Aborigines of Victoria: With Notes Relating to the Habits of the Natives of other Parts of Australia and Tasmania. Jones displayed the wrapped objects in large glass cabinets, historical cases from the Institute of Anatomy.

What an incredible, succinct statement of what was done to his culture. Objects taken, obscured by layers of foreign constructs that were all about western culture, carefully labelled and put behind glass as curiosities.

I would like to think that the National Museum exhibitions are small but positive steps, part of a larger process of grappling with intractable problems. It would be nice to think that precious objects could return to the people to whom they are most precious, who share the value system in which they were created. But those powerful, self-appointed guardians…

Slight change of topic, but I read an interesting article today. What hit home was the expression “unwitting racism”. The real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall by Amit Chaudhuri (link).

Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Canberra exhibitions
T1-MMT-P5 Canberra exhibitions


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