I was in on Wednesday for a tutorial with Maiko. Definitely feel like I am finally able to discuss sensibly what my project is trying to do. It’s nice to be less tongue tied when talking to Maiko at last! I was pleased that she seemed happy with progress and also found the weavings that I have been doing interesting. This was followed by a sneaky chance tutorial with Shane this afternoon, who I was keen to discuss my weaving with given his background and knowledge of basketry. Between the two of them there are a few things to consider:
(1) Have I finished experimenting directly with the road maps?
Well my first reaction was to say yes, I’m done, I have been trying to get the expression of my concept directly into raw materials, with the traditions and connotations within them broader and more accessible than the already provided representation of place through formal mapping. I did like the ‘woven fabric’ I made with the thin map yarn and wires during the interim show, but I would naturally treat this as a textile, so not really sure what I would do with it usefully for now.
(2) How much of the ritual associations of straw do I want embedded within the piece?
Both Shane and Maiko saw the local traditions (corn dollies, harvest rituals etc) that the material spoke of straight away and questioned how much I wanted – particularly since I had been generally keeping the ears on the pieces so far. Shane commented on the rural-ness of this as well, and asked how well this resonated with being displayed on the blank white of an art school wall. Maiko also suggested I look more into artists/craftspeople working with straw weaving.
(3) There is still time to experiment with new materials
I mentioned that I felt like I had been ‘anxious’ at trying out using willow to weave with (possibly as I felt that I wasn’t skilled enough as a basketmaker to do so). However, we are still in experimental phase, so why not try out a new material. This would remove the heavy ritual symbolism, but still keep the ancient (local) basketry traditions and rural aspects of the history inherent in the material. An order is now placed with a Somerset willow grower…..so we’ll see soon!
(4) How do you create form?
This was more of an unanswered question, as this is what I had been asking myself already. I don’t want to dictate the form from data, but neither do I just want to make an expression of how I’m currently feeling without planning some better intent. I am wondering if I should explore the idea of footsteps as form. A sculptural dérive perhaps?
(5) What about site-specificity?
This has been something on my list which I have been avoiding, as it seems quite difficult to get right. Shane brought this up (and rightly so) and it’s probably time to get to grips with testing it. He commented on how important displaying the piece is, and even wall v table v installation is critical. You will get a different response in different places (straw seen in an urban environment compared to a wheat field for instance). Shane suggested some Goldsworthy type temporary installations, which I have wanted to do this anyway, having started to get excited about my new (however foundational) photography skills.
(6) There is no box
A few thinking outside the box ideas from Shane (as always!) including the idea of locality and the body (wearable weaving) and performance – perhaps of making in action.
Overall, I was pleased in particular that I do finally understand some of the points Maiko has been making all year, and that I am getting much more focussed down on what I am doing. Shane commented on the simplicity/purity of materials I’m using – only one material in the weaving (even down to the string), and only one colour and line of ink in my drawings. I like this type of aesthetic in my work: elegance, emergence and authenticity. (I will need to define these some time!)