Assessment Part 5- Reflective Commentary
Technical and visual skills
This part of the course provided the opportunity to bring together many of the technical and visual skills that had been learned and developed in the first 4 parts of the course. I also had to learn some new skills to be able to realise my chosen project. In particular I drew on skills related to: matching colour; understanding proportion; drawing and painting; understanding materials; printing; weaving and using stitch to create colour and texture. I also had to learn how to disassemble a simple chair and make a pattern for the new pieces to cover the chair so that it fitted well and looked coherent. I enjoyed the experimentation that went with developing these skills further but also found it very useful to refer back to work I had done earlier in the course to reference these skills. For example, in thinking about the texture and colour I wanted to create in the poppy heads on the seat back I returned to the samples which I had prepared in part 2 of the course using threads to blend colour an create surface texture.
Ensuring that I had the right skills, or learning new skills, which were equal to the task I had set myself in technical terms, was important to me. I wanted to realise my final design in a way that was technically competent.
Quality of outcome
Throughout the earlier part of the course I was conscious of the size of pieces I was working on. To some extent dictated by the tasks set in the course but also by the practicalities of working on samples. My tutor had encouraged me to take more risks and to think about working in different sizes. That led me to think beyond the suggestions in the course notes e.g. a waistcoat, or cushion or wall panel. Whilst in the end I did include cushions I wanted to develop a concept and create a piece that addressed the concept. For this reason I wanted to include a design for the chair. I do feel the finished piece looks better on the chair frame where the intention of the components can be seen in the way I intended but for the purposes of the review I assembled it with temporary pins to show the idea. I was quite pleased with the quality of the outcome. If I were doing the work again I might include more stitch or texture at the base of the poppy stems but overall I think the design was realised and the different element of the idea came together effectively.
As noted above I was keen to develop a concept as well as a design. The starting point of seeds included the idea of end of cycle and start of new cycle. The seemingly dead seed heads holding the secret to the regeneration and renewal of the plant appealed to me. I extended that concept to looking for text from a poem that would capture that idea. I also wanted to use a chair which had twice been thrown away and recovered. That led me to want to use textiles which were not only already used and recycled but some marks of previous use. Of itself, working within these constraints helped shaped the development work but also provided springboards that led me on to the choices I made in deciding on the final project. When I started my theme book I had the idea in mind that I would make a wall hanging. I still might. I have an idea for one that emerged towards the end of the project and has potential to incorporate some of the elements I have used and introduce more. However, I changed my direction as I began to really get immersed in the concept and the idea of recycling and recovery.
Context and critical thinking
I needed to do a bit of research on basic upholstery techniques as well as review the skills and techniques I had developed in the course. I thought about the exhibitions I had seen in the last year and revisited the work of several textile artists including Alice Kettle, Polly Binns and Hannah Lamb. My work has developed more in terms of mixed media: combining printing, painting on fabric and stitch in way that I have not done before. What interested me about the work of these artists and the work I was drawn to the exhibitions I visited was the effect of layers of materials or mark making and the message that could convey in itself. I am keen to continue to develop this idea of history and time with mark making and application of colour and texture. I now appreciate this is a shared theme across many textile artists and in looking in to the exhibition ‘Cloth and Memory 2’ I now realise the range and variety of work that this can lead to. I have tried to attend as many exhibitions as possible. It’s a lifelong habit and I believe I am now applying, to good effect, what I am learning on this course to my critical thinking when attending an exhibition or reading and researching artists. My final self-set task for the course unit was to revisit the earliest part of the course to see how my work had developed. I looked again at mark making and carried out some experiments to see if my approach and style had changed. I believe there is a significant difference in my approach to mark making both in term of boldness but also in the degree of experimentation. I think this is a helpful indicator of distance travelled.