Sunday, 23 November 2014

Reflection on Assignment 5

Can you see a clear line of progression from source material through to finished piece? Was there enough information in your source material to stimulate your imagination and sustain your enthusiam?

There is a clear line of progression from my source material of light in the darkness and my drawing of a slit in cork bark through to the finished piece. I did bring in some of my sketchbook work on roots and bark half-way through developing the finished piece, and while I was constructing the piece this aspect came more to the fore. This was not because there was no further interest in the source material, but more that the sources had less to say about what was surrounding the slits than what was within them.

I have some ideas about developing the light in the darkness idea further, for example a series of experiments with mixed yarns, and using light emitting wires, which shows that there was plenty of potential in the source material for me.

Do you feel you made the right choices and decisions when selecting at each stage of the project? If not, what would you change and how would it alter the outcome?

The main forks in the path were
1, Decision to go with the purple/yellow colour scheme, rather than the alternative. I think this was a good choice as it allowed me to pursue my interest in the dark light idea, and in fact I think it works well in my final piece
2. Using repeating pattern rather than single slit. This decision became more obviously the correct one once I had decided to make a glove, as it allowed an interesting rhythm to the outer layer, and variations in what 'shines through' the slits. My sketchbook drawings showed me that the size of the glove required smaller and repeating shapes to be in proportion with the size of the fingers. This led to my using the source images, and incidentally the roots images, on a smaller scale than I had initially anticipated. I think this worked well.
3. Choosing a fabric which was already in parallel folds. This supported the development of the roots/bark symbolism in the final piece, but also resulted in the fingers and thumb of the glove being less smooth-edged and elegant than I had initially intended. In context this is perhaps even an advantage, and it is not obvious to me how it could have been avoided, other than by not lining the fingers, with the consequential effect on the colours.
4. Choosing to make a glove rather than a mask or lampshade. I think that a glove does have the reference to identity of the person inside that I was aiming for, without the weight of contradictory symbolism that a mask might bring. The idea is not hiddenness but something interesting showing through. A lampshade might have been a good choice too, but I had some reservations about being restricted to non-flammable materials and other practical considerations. This would not necessarily stop me from making something of this sort in the future, but for this project it would not have been possible to address the identity issues that I thought were more important.

Which stage did you find the most exciting? Which stage was most arduous and difficult to get through?

For me the most exciting time is when I have decided what I am going to make. I love the adrenaline it gives me that means that everything else in my life has to go to the bottom of the to do list for a while. What my husband calls my 'sewing frenzy'. I have to slow myself down a bit at that point to stop myself from just diving in and making something from what I had in the house. Rather than being more thoughtful about using the best materials I can find for the purpose.

I found that the fixed structure of the stages in this last project was a little frustrating at times as my own natural way of working uses experimenting with textiles and then returning to the sketchbook in a more iterative way. I mean that I do some sketches, then go to textiles and other materials, then return to sketches, then feel the physicality of the materials again, several times, rather than the one or two cycles described in the stages. I was sometimes uncomfortable torn trying to stick to the 'rules', (and not always successful).

For me the most difficult period was after the feedback from my tutor about the last assignment. I found it difficult to disentangle my own motivation and creative direction from what I thought she would want me to be doing. And the result was that I did very little during the weeks afterwards. I am aware that this is because I only 'see' the things I could do better. I think that every time this happens I learn a bit better how to 'see' the positive bits of the feedback too.

Do you like your finished textile? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

I am pleased with the finished piece.

Initially the colour contrast and textures give it the light through the darkness feel I was looking for. The texture of the outer layer is pleasant, reflects the rhythm and organic regularity that appeals to me, but, perhaps because of the deep colour, it does not overwhelm the overall glove shape as I had feared it might.

It may be that the bark/roots aspect of this will lead some people looking at it to think of it as the 'arm' of a tree, rather than see the intended meaning. Making it life size was intended to refer to its representing a real person, but I could perhaps have tried out the effect of larger or smaller gloves. I'm not sure.

I am pleased with the texture and pattern of the underlying yellow parts. I think that if I made this again I would try to make the slits a little larger to allow more of the interesting complexity/regularity of this netting to show through to the surface.

Generally, I like the ideas/ symbolism that come with gloves, and I may well make more in future.

Experience of this course in general, referring to my initial hopes and expectations:

My initial hopes and expectations were as follows: 'When I was looking for a course I wanted one which would allow me to learn by experimenting...I have some themes at the back of a lot of things I make - femaleness, beauty and disgust, hidden secrets and transparency - I want to learn how to express these things in what I make'.

I have certainly done a lot of experimenting. Some of my experiments have been apparently dead ends but have turned out to influence what I do later (eg the roots). I like the way I have learned that this is more than tolerable, it's actually the process. This has been very freeing for me, as can be seen in my regular sketchbook practice during the research section of this course.  My experiments have led me to adapt techniques for my own purposes eg the knotted nets used in friendship bracelets, making visual illusions by printing computer images onto organza, and using PVA to mould coloured tissue paper, among many others.

Exploring ideas has brought me to expand my themes to include light and dark effects, and some gender issues, but also to find something of the common theme of all of these, which is about the way we can hide our own infinitely interesting light under a rather less flexible shell of our own making. I am certainly getting better at expressing this in objects, but of course there is still a way to go before my intention is clear to other people!

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