Tag Archives: beauty

First Seminar – designing and making

First context seminar with our tutor Maiko this morning, with a very interesting introduction and an overview of our tutor’s works so we know her background and thought process in what she is trying to get us to achieve through the course.

We had an extract of ‘The Sense of Sight’ by John Berger to consider, which was a discussion piece around the handmade object of a white bird.  My observations from the piece brought up the following questions for me:

  • How much more impact does an object have when the material is sympathetic to the purpose of the object?  Particularly if this poses some symbolic purpose to the user?
  • Is beauty more poignant when it is found from within bleakness (the flower among the ruins) than beauty lost among many other lovely things?
  • How much of what a given community finds beautiful is dependent on our culture, or are there any universal aethetics?

Maiko is trying to get us to consider both our making and our context for making at the same time – hands and mind working together as one perhaps.  There are however a thousand different contexts we could be contributing to and I think it will be our first challenge to try to fit our random unshapen proposal ideas into a true contextual framework.  Some BIG QUESTIONS are on the table for us to consider…..

  1. What is your context?
  2. What debate can your work contribute to or be part of?
  3. Where do you ideas belong?
  4. What is your question???

Hmm!  Can I answer any of these yet?

I am hovering around the question of mind/body duality v universality (the “ghost in the machine”) question; am I touching also on the questions of what is art and what is craft (am I making something which is useful and functional or artistic and beautiful? or both?  Is there something about what is really the purpose of making – how much is catharsis for the maker and  how much is for the user?  How much of this purpose comes out with the experience of using the object at the end?  Can you get the user to experience something of what you imbibed into the object as part of the making?

This reminds me of something a chef said to me once that he never makes food when angry, as the anger will come across in the food and you will taste it.  Eat food made with love.  This is true of food – as a part-time chocolatier I can attest to this being true – so is it true of making more generally?

ANT xx

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End of week 2 – feet finding

It’s only 2 weeks since I finished work, I’m still feeling quite shellshocked about how fast things are moving. I am however starting to feel a little more settled though, and excitement is currently winning the fight with terror.

HB took a look at my mind map yesterday and called my project working title (soul mirror) a “bit A-level”. Meow. I don’t disagree that it is a cheesy snap of a title which covers most of human endeavour for the last 13,000 years, but to be honest that’s all it is for. I just wanted something which starts me off while I work out my specific research question. Having had time to think about my change of tactics this week, I think that starting my research from the few making and materials ideas I do have, and weaving the context around it will work much better for me than making up a nice topic and planning half the theory already before I’ve even started sketching.

At the moment, I’m hovering like a small cloud around the seeds of topics of reflection, contemplation and revelation:

> What role can art and objects play in providing a lever for us to contemplate meaning in our lives and existence?
> How can we reconcile mankind’s use of art and craft for spiritual reflection over the millennia with an increasingly secular modern context?
> Is it possible to use contemporary art and craft to connect our inner selves with the wider universe around us?

A starter for 10. Will keep working on it – for the moment, I am looking to pick out the connections across the mind map, focussing on the areas which have the most materials/processes and practical ideas. I’m using the first connection I have picked out, “revealing” to start investigating from.

Other progress to note:

Have read Six names of beauty by Crispin Sartwell. Nice book although his manner is grating in places. Some interesting points about the interpretation of beauty in different cultures and contexts. Highlight:

“all of these art forms are designed for contemplation, for a total immersion in the beauty of the world that moves beyond or underneath the opposition of beauty and ugliness…they heighten the sense of the beauty of the world to a point of utmost poignancy, until one sees everything as art and art as not-art, but spontaneous nature”

Abstract art season continues on BBC4 and I’d really recommend their programme The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings. Very good overview of what abstract art is, and I was fascinated about the history of where the trend originated in ‘Theosophical’ interpretation. Note to self to look up Hilna af Klint (Sweden 1907) and Kandinsky’s early abstract work.

Have also started listening to the history of the world in 100 objects. I recall hearing most of the the show when it first aired on Radio 4 in 2010, just listening out of causal interest. I am finding it very different when listening specifically with a maker’s anthropological ear – such is the manner of critique perhaps, that you normally pick up on what it is you are looking for at the time. A learning experience, as well as a good way to not get bored while ironing.

Here’s to week three!

ANT xx