Assignment 5: Building A Collection: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing yarns and textiles?

  • drawing from primary sources is a necessary starting point to gather original material for making future developmental work unique
  • researching other artists’ and designers’ work provides ideas for new directions to take your work in
  • similarly to yarns, textiles can be infinitely varied by playing with colour palette, pattern, motif, scale, fabric weight and opacity and the treatments applied (eg printing, batik, embroidery etc)
  • revisiting earlier coursework refreshed my memory about ideas, techniques and processes that I could use and also aided evaluation of what had gone before, and how it could inform current work
  • one design could be adapted to suit many end uses, from textiles for the craft market, to fashion, to interiors. Techniques applied and materials used can be varied to suit a luxury, mid or mass market
  • considering the context of the textiles is helpful in determining the scale of the design and type of pattern that is suitable to the end use
  • experimenting with a single type of fabric provides knowledge of what is possible with that material

Strong points of my work

Experimental approach; varied research; a variety of techniques used to create a related set of ‘mix and match’ textiles inspired by plants. Simple presentation of my developmental process in a book format. A workbook keeps research, inspirations and unused ideas ready for future reference.

Weaker aspects of my work

I felt that I was rushing through the textile creation phase due to time constraints, and would have liked to spend longer exploring possible variations and developments for the textiles. I think that I should have concentrated on just the final six textiles in the presentation book, but I had already mounted the earlier samples before beginning Assignment 5, so I just had photographic references to show that part of the development process.

New skills

I re-acquainted myself with batik and paint-on dye techniques. I aimed to work in a productive and logical way in creating these textiles, using sampling and drawing to achieve this. Thinking about the context of the capsule collection was helpful in determining suitable materials to work with, and the scale of the patterns required.

Potential work in future based on this project

The potential for printed and batik fabrics is exciting, and I can imagine combining these with stitch and rug making techniques to produce interesting wall art. I enjoyed the bold, flat colour and non-fraying aspect of felt and will use that fabric again. The whole development process has illustrated the importance of gathering original source material; carrying out related research; making samples, exploring materials and combinations thereof; drawing, evaluating and reflecting on the work at every stage; revisiting earlier work; pushing the sample-making and ideas further than my first thoughts, and these are all techniques that I will incorporate into my practice.

Outside In Radical Craft Exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle

This exhibition is made up of selected works by ‘outsider’ artists. Some of the participating artists have no verbal means of communication, their artwork has become a way of expressing themselves. Many of the artworks in this exhibition have been selected and funded by arts organisations. Other included artists have no formal artistic training or see themselves as “facing barriers to the art world” (for reasons of health, disability, isolation, etc).

Textile specialist, Helen Walsh, gave a small group of us a guided tour of the exhibition. We had an overview of the work and themes, with more in-depth discussion of certain pieces.

Various themes emerged from the artwork on display: exuberant use of the chosen media; use of whatever materials were to hand; articulating feelings, interests and obsessions non-verbally; not ‘over-thinking’ the work, just purely making what the individual felt compelled to make. It was interesting to note that many of the artists had absolutely no interest in selling their work: it was the making process that was important to them. Numerous techniques had been employed, but I noticed a number of artists using ‘wrapping’ techniques, or assembling/transforming found objects. Other techniques included metalwork, wire work, soft sculpture, carving, model making and weaving.

This was the one artist whose work was, I knew, included in the exhibition, having heard an excerpt from an interview with her on Woman’s Hour. Pinkie Maclure is an artist and singer who was put off from pursuing her early drawn artwork, because of negative comments made by an art teacher. She only returned to art in her forties, and is self-taught. She is influenced by medieval ecclesiastical stained glass, in particular the story-telling elements, rather than the purely decorative aspect of modern architectural stained glass.

Pinkie Maclure, Landfill Tantrum, stained glass

Source: http://craftspace.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pinkie-Maclure_Landfill-Tantrum_Pinkie-Maclure-1024×768.jpg

This piece  ‘points the finger’ at humans and the waste they create and send to landfill, and highlights the damage it causes to wildlife. I found this to have a powerful narrative as well as being beautifully made and full of arresting images. I like the fact that she has taken an issue that she feels strongly about and has integrated it with her chosen medium and has updated the imagery while retaining something of the work that inspired her.

Lasmin Salmon works with yarn, textiles and other materials. Her work is highly textured and often consists of smaller elements combined into a larger artwork.

Lasmin Salmon, Rug, textile collage, and detail of Rug

This large, wall-hung piece included many types of textile, some hand knitted by the artist, each decorated with rings cut from pipe insulation and attached with yarn. Each ‘patch’ was carefully arranged and stitched to a blanket. The same elements were repeated with many variations. It reminded me of a hardware store or plants in flower beds. A very lively and texture-filled composition. It was hard to adhere to the ‘no touching’ rule with this piece.

Pascal Tassini is a Belgian artist who initially worked with clay, drawing and painting, before choosing to make his own ‘studio within a studio’ from acquired furniture and clothing. He greets visitors in his alter ego of ‘Doctor Tassini’ and allows them to visit within, after they undergo a ‘check-up’! Pascal now works exclusively with textiles and makes numerous iterations of wrapped objects, and bridal wear.

Pascal Tassini, Untitled Chair, mixed media (left) Bridal Headress II, mixed media (right)

This artist’s work reminded me a little of Anton Alvarezs machine-wrapped works, yet Tassini’s pieces seem more knotted in construction. They seem to arise from the need to create something that the artist is fascinated by, using whatever materials are to hand and in whatever way produces the desired outcome.

Michael Smith is a British artist. He is a non-verbalising individual, and therefore little is known about his reasons for making his artwork.

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Michael Smith, Jeans I and Jeans II, denim jeans, masking tape, PVA

These pieces seem to hint at constraint, feelings of suffocation and enclosure. I found them rather disturbing and eerie hanging in the gallery, throwing strange and distorted human-like shadows.

Ian Sherman is a UK artist who makes paintings and assemblages. Better images of his artwork can be found on this website. He does not sell many of the assemblages (now numbering over 80), as he likes to work on them for many years at a time. (The piece below has been evolving for twenty years, as new and appropriate additions are found and incorporated).

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Ian Sherman, A Comedian, assemblage, mixed media

This piece has the feeling of a grotto or a shrine. It made me think of the sea creatures’ unworldly jewellery in The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H P Lovecraft. The title of the artwork draws your attention to the shell, used here as a mouth, with red line accentuating the feature and a small bow tie beneath. Other items suggest the ‘bling’ of showbiz. I found it interesting that the artist keeps adding to the works, begging the question, ‘When is a piece of art finished?’ I guess that only the artist themselves can decide that one!

Marie-Rose Lortet is a French artist. She was inspired by the knitting and textile crafts of her female relatives. She initially made textile pictures but eventually moved to making three-dimensional pieces with loosely-worked lace, stiffened with sugar water (later, resin). These small sculptures take the form of houses, rooms, windows etc, or can be more abstract in nature.

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Marie-Rose Lortet (no title given)

Source: http://www.outsiderartnow.com/marie-rose-lortet/

The pieces that I saw at the exhibition by Marie-Rose (we were not allowed to photograph them) included unexpected elements such as the figure of a lady, and were in the forms of houses. They were a complex, irregular network of threads with small motifs or fragments of more traditional lace worked in. The voids took on the shapes of fields and houses as seen from the air, or on a map (to me, anyway!), and cast intricate shadows. Her work also includes mask-like faces and very colourful works, as well as the white pieces shown here. She seems to have an interest in many topics: people, the domestic scene, clothing and traditional techniques. The pieces I saw suggested that the viewer was getting a secret view into a (semi-transparent) house and the events taking place in it.

Summary

I was not quite sure what to expect at this exhibition, and was surprised by the variety of media and techniques on display. It opens up debate about what art is and who is ‘qualified’ to make it. Our speaker mentioned that many of the artists make work only for their own fulfillment, indicating that it has a therapeutic context. However, I feel that if a viewer can also gain something from seeing and contemplating the work, it should certainly be classed as art. There were some works that I might class more as ‘craft’, as the title of the show suggests. For example:

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Erkki Pekkarinen, Tiny Shoes, birch bark, thread.

These skillfully woven pieces use a traditional Finnish technique. They varied in size from smaller than a match head, to life-size figures.

There were many more pieces of interest to see and digest, and I thought that the exhibition was well curated.

What can I learn from these artists and craft makers?

  • use whatever materials you can find, and that appeal to you
  • use whatever technique or method of construction feels right
  • don’t feel constrained by tradition or what is expected and accepted in the art world
  • express feelings and tell stories through your art
  • build on tradition, but give the work contemporary relevance
  • feel free to indulge your ‘obsessions’, and make multiple versions of the same subject

 

References:-

Websites:- 

http://actionspace.org/artists/lasmin-salmon/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.antonalvarez.com/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://craftspace.co.uk/radicalcraft/ Accessed 12/03/17

https://www.delicatestitches.co.uk/gallery Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.et-alors.org/dossier-les-Artistes/M-R-Lortet-2008.html (text in French) Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsidein.org.uk/ian-sherman+%5Bcopy%5D Accessed 12/03/17

http://outsidein.org.uk/outsider-craft Accessed 12/03/17

https://outsideinpallant.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/artists-interiors-ian-sherman/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsiderartnow.com/pascal-tassini/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsiderartnow.com/marie-rose-lortet/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.pinkiemaclure.net/ Accessed 12/03/17

Assignment 4: Yarn and Linear Exploration: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing materials and textiles?

  • yarns can be inspired by numerous source materials
  • drawing and mind maps are useful in generating ideas
  • sampling illuminates successful combinations of media, colour palettes, construction methods, possible developments, etc
  • imposing constraints has again been highlighted as a successful strategy
  • the selected colour palette, scale, and type of ‘line’ all help to define the look and feel of a yarn
  • the importance of ways of joining media
  • colour palette and proportions of colours, media, texture, scale and pattern can all be varied to create numerous ideas for yarns

Strong points of my work

Exploration of varied and unusual media, interesting techniques, and scale in yarn creation. Coherent presentation of yarn samples and inspirations in a yarns book.

Weaker aspects of my work

Although I have done more sampling and drawing for this section, I am sure that I could do even more in future. I had ideas that I did not have time to explore, therefore I must aim to work faster.

New skills

I had an introduction to knotting, basketry techniques and net making. Working with plastic (packaging and tubing), toy snakes, ice, hair and 3-D objects were new experiences for me.

Potential work in future based on this project

I am sure that I will return to a number of these techniques in the future: basketry techniques; combining and joining assorted media; French knitting; knotting and binding; making repeating patterns, to name but a few.

Assignment 3: Colour Communication: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing materials and textiles?

  • The importance of tone, value and saturation in conveying a likeness, or an altered version of a subject.
  • The importance of lighting on colour perception.
    increased confidence in selecting colours from subjects
  • The value of imposing constraints when selecting a palette to work from, lending a particular mood/feeling/cohesive look to a piece.
  • Adding proportion and texture to a colour palette with linear media, and how choice and placement of colour can enliven a palette.
  • The usefulness (and limitations) of using software to alter, or select a palette, from an image.
  • How to analyse and reproduce perceived colours in an image/composition using various media.

Strong points of my work

Accuracy of selected gouache palettes derived from textiles; the extended stripy textile in gouache; and some of the collage and yarn wrap work (as selected for the book). See also Summary of this article.

Weaker aspects of my work

General sloppiness, eg, with labelling, smudges on white card etc. Painted gouache was too stripy and not opaque. Numerous attempts to mix correct colours in gouache samples. Tendency to exaggerate colour saturation. Watercolour studies of glass composition showed a lot of mixing between the stripes of colour.

New skills

Working in gouache for the first time, producing opaque, flat colour was a challenge. The yarn wraps were a new exercise for me. I found them useful in representing colour, proportion and texture.

Potential work in future based on this project

I have started to analyse some of my ‘images for inspiration’ to generate colour palettes for translation into paint and textiles. I am working on an image of fishing crates on a harbour wall to be turned into an abstracted image.

Assignment 2: Written Reflection

First ideas in response to the brief

Excitement at the thought of paper manipulations, and adding stitch to paper – both new techniques for me.

First impression of the Assignment

Cari had suggested more cutting into textured surfaces, so I picked the grass drawing as an inspiration for the Assignment. This led to a theme of ‘Re-wilding’.

Techniques explored

This Assignment has been about exploring the translation of marks made in drawings into paper surfaces, stitch and textured base fabrics. New techniques included, burning, laminating, embossing, dipping, and wax coating. The process of research, thinking, drawing, experimenting, selecting and refining is beginning to become ingrained in the way that I work.

Strong points of my work

The paper (and stitch) manipulations explored a variety of techniques and media. Concentration on the grass drawing resulted in three quite different textiles: monotone (Piece 1), multiple textures (Piece 2), and constraints (rectangles/ knotted white stitches) (Piece 3). I liked aspects of 1 and 2, but thought that Piece 3 was the strongest.

Weaker aspects of my work

I still want to ‘jump in’ without doing the preparatory work of sampling, but I am starting to appreciate the benefits (eg, sampling helped me with techniques for tied stitches; and using paint instead of burning the base fabric in Piece 2). More sketching needed.

New skills

The main skill that I have learned is the usefulness of having a process when making an art work, and being open to play and exploration in the ‘discovery’ stage.

Potential work in future based on this Assignment

I will return to the theme of ‘re-wilding’ in the future, perhaps using more realistic colours. I enjoyed working in an abstract way, branching out into three-dimensions, and using unusual shapes for the artworks.