Thursday, 28 November 2013

Assignment 3 - Tutor Report

Overall Comments
The project work you have completed shows the extent to which you are beginning to recognize that you have a personal style and a particular way of working. There is a clear link between work in your sketchbook and the identification and development of possible starting points for your design ideas. Your visual awareness as well as an increasing fluency with design based work is becoming increasingly evident as shown in stage two and this is backed up by the connections you make with wider artistic and intellectual concerns. Your technical skills continue to develop and the work you have completed shows a concern for the presentation of outcomes in an accessible way. In your next assignment, try to maintain the documentation of your working practices and to continue to reflect on more specific aspects of your progress.

Feedback on Assignment
Project 6 Manipulating Fabric: Creating Shapes and 3D Forms 
  • To explore how work from your sketchbook can be used a starting point for the development and realization of your ideas
  • To explore different ways in which stitch can be used to assemble fabrics and hold structures together
  • To experiment with a range of 2D and 3D fabric manipulation techniques and processes
  • To gain an understanding of the diversity of style and design in textiles
  • To consider why craft produced textiles maintain a place in our society

Stage 2: Exploring Ideas
I liked the way in which you focused your experimentation on just two images here. You took a focused approach with each in that the horseshoe photo led you to work directly with materials to hand and to use their qualities to explore the surfaces seen in the photo. By contrast, the barnacle image led you to explore further possibilities by digitally manipulating imagery. Did you have a preference here in terms of preferred ways of working? A further extension of this preliminary work could have been some smaller focused drawings or collages in your sketchbook. This would have been a good reference point for further experimentation with applied fabric techniques. There are close links here in terms of how you work with shape and line in compositional terms. There was also some interesting sampling based on word and colour association and the results showed a good understanding of the extent to which your choice of fabric and colour can create a particular mood or feeling.

Stage 3: Applied Fabric Techniques
The first two samples based on your horseshoe photo were lively and well considered. There was a robustness and crustiness about them which you achieved by carefully building up the layers of fabric. It was a good example of where the addition of braids etc. is fully justified in achieving your intentions. You might like to have a look at Lez Brotherstone’s costumes for Sleeping Beauty. Look at how he uses layering and combining different fabrics. See link below and click on View the Gallery to see the gothic fairy costumes

It was also interesting to see what happened when you began to manipulate the barnacle photo further. The structure became very lace like and delicate. Could this lead you to further research? You might like to look at Michael Brennand Wood’s Material Evidence, Improvisations on a historical theme based on the Whitworth Art Gallery’s collection of lace. It might lead you to further experimentation with materials and techniques. There is also a good link here between this and the crochet work you undertook for Alice Kettle.

You are becoming increasingly aware of how subtle changes in your images can be used to create very different outcomes. I’m thinking here of the contrast you achieved when selecting hard contrast imagery as opposed to a softer focus. In all your samples, you relied very much on fabric quality to achieve the overall effect. It was interesting see that by contrast, you used only very basic utility stitches to assemble fabrics and hold structures together. Was this a conscious decision on your part?

The diversion into stained glass allowed you to capitalize on the use of semi-transparent fabrics and the sample in which you combined the printed background with overlaid shapes worked very well indeed. The reference to Klimt’s work was very self-evident but you might also like to look at Frederich Hundertwasser for his use of rich pattern and simplified, distorted shapes.

Final Sample
This piece was technically very well executed, showing pleasing evidence of your ability to apply what you had learned through developing your design ideas and subsequent sampling. However, I thought it had a heavy solidness about it which didn’t really reflect the qualities of your starting point. It seemed a little overworked and this was exaggerated by the very solid circled shapes, firmly enclosed and held down with the blanket stitch. Compare this with some of your freer more delicate sample where you used a lighter machined stitch to secure your shapes. The background by contrast was rather more sensitively handled with some good layering and the use of running stitch which served to secure the layers as well as create additional surface texture. You might like to re consider this piece in terms of alternative approaches. Could you for example, insert some of the shapes underneath the top background layer? Would further consideration of varying the scale of the shapes in terms of larger and smaller circles help you to re consider the overall composition and the relationship between positive and negative shape?

Stage 4: Surface Manipulation
You produced some very interesting samples for this stage. I particularly liked the slashing and the way in which you varied the distance between the rows of stitching. This allowed a denser buildup of frayed, coloured threads to emerge on the surface. You could take this experimentation further by trying the same techniques but with different fabrics. You might also like to look at Elizabeth Brimelow’s work. She used slashing very effectively in her quilts but cuts on the bias of the fabric within an enclosed stitch area. This effectively prevents the fabric from fraying at all but reveals slashes of pure colour reminiscent of Elizabethan costume.

The moulded samples were highly successful too. I felt as though the beige hairy sample was actually growing whilst I was looking at it!

Final Sample
This was a really good choice of technique to re-create your barnacle photo. I liked the way in which you create different surface heights by using French knots as an intermediary level. My only reservation was again in relation to the overall composition. You could maybe re consider more carefully the spaces created in-between the barnacles. Would less be more? You can exaggerate elements within the original photo to suit your purpose rather than trying to achieve a direct copy. Could you introduce some darker tones with your French knots in order to create an illusion of greater depth and tonal contrast?

Preparation for Project 7: Theme Book 
Your theme of ‘Gardens’ is a good one with lots of potential but you need to focus in more closely on a particular aspect otherwise, it will become unmanageable. Also, think very carefully about everything you have learned so far in terms of materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness design and compositional skills and try to demonstrate how you intend to build on this. Don’t be overambitious. Often a simple design well executed can work much better than something which is overcomplicated and maybe beyond your current level of expertise. Remember, it’s a level 1 module. Again, reference to Elizabeth Brimelow’s work in terms of subject matter might help you here.

Learning Logs/Critical Essays 
References to artists’ work and exhibitions are thoughtfully considered. Try to link this more loosely to the development of your own ideas e.g. you clearly loved Gillian Bates’ work. What elements might you consider developing in your own work?

Research Point 
This was a very interesting choice and one which resonated with your own personal interest. You mad some pertinent references to the ways in which the craft of crochet has been incorporated into the work of current designers and the general revival of the craft through retro and vintage revivals.

More work is need here but I think you know that from your comments in your learning log. The work you have undertaken for your art class has clearly had a beneficial effect on your OCA work but remember that you cannot submit it as part of your assessed course work. It might be better to keep it in another sketchbook unless the techniques you have acquired feed specifically into the development of new ideas for your OCA course.

Suggested reading/viewing 
See above in report

Pointers for the next assignment 
The next assignment is concerned with the construction of textiles. Some of the weaving techniques can be quite time consuming and the intention is to familiarize you with the techniques and processes. My advice would be to keep your samples quite small and when asked to identify possible starting points, don’t be tempted to go down a very literal or representational route. It is very challenging to do this because of the structure of the weave which favours a geometric or linear approach. Also, consider what other non-traditional textile materials you could weave with and in what ways you might combine their use.

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