Did you find this more theoretical approach helpful, interesting, inspiring, restrictive or boring?
It certainly hasn't been boring, although for a few weeks I was missing the practical textile work that was part of the other modules. Then my sketchbook work became more tactile and it was in fact liberating to be able to work on what I wanted without being restricted to the coursework.
Researching artists was helpful to the extent that it made it clearer to me what the range of artists work in textiles encompasses, and helped me to much better understand the craft/art and feminist contexts of textile art. It unexpectedly helped me to place myself in cultural context, and to understand that many (if not all) of my attitudes to art and crafts are derived from this without me knowing it.
Of course it was inspiring too and I am sure that I will be using some of the things I have learned in my sketchbook, either intentionally or otherwise, in future. I was particularly moved by the powerful size and organic textures of Magdelena Abakanowicz's sculpures, and this has revealed to me that I was holding back on this part of my vision because of the idea that it was too rough and emotional. I expect to explore her work more thoroughly, and that having learned about her will allow me to express this part of my vision more freely now.
Were you already familiar with some of the designers and artists in the set list? Whose work was completely new to you?/ How did you respond to it?
I didn't know of Leon Bakst, Ethel Mairet, or Magdalena Abakanowicz before this, and had not really explored any of the others except Tracey Emin.
Leon Bakst's designs appealed because of the strong colours, and the physicality of the female bodies he drew wearing his costumes. There was a feeling of freedom and joy in them, and playfulness. It is easy to see why he influenced others, although it seems as though his ideas were taken and stylised so much that they were no longer comfortable!
I had great difficulty finding images of Ethel Mairet's work on the internet, and was unable to get to see the collection in Surrey, or to find a copy of her book. Given this lack of reference information, it seems to me that her influence is due to her teaching others to use vegetable dyes and traditional weaving in 20th Century England.The images I have seen have been of samplers of weaving in subdued colours wtih limited interest to me. On the other hand, I do enjoy weaving and subtle colours, so I don't really know why these did not inspire me to do more of this, or to find out more about her. However, I did get interested when exploring artists who were taught by her including Peter Collingwood and Tadek Beutlich, both of whom took her basic weaving into the third dimension.
Did you find the questions we gave helpful as a basis for your analysis?
Yes, the list of questions was a good way of making me think about pieces and the way they work. In particular the question 'how does it work?', which made me focus on the details of the way they had been designed and produced to have a particular effect.
Do you think that an awareness of the context in which work is produced will influence the way in which you approach your own work in the future?
I think we are lucky to be working in a time when the boundaries of fine art and craft are breaking down as this allows freer experimentation and innovation is encouraged. Each module so far has released me to be freer in my exploration and this has been enjoyable and enlightening. I have learned that the context is changing all the time and that it can be inspiring and delightful to learn about what other people are doing.
Do you feel stimulated to do more research work of this nature in your own time?
Yes, I understand much better the value of this kind of work, and I am keen to learn more about Magdalena Abakanowicz, and about current artists in all modalities.