Tag Archives: making

Working Process show

Our pop-up work in progress show is now up in Camberwell Space Projects after a week or so of last minute prep. It looks really good, I’ve been quite impressed by the range of stuff on display – particularly since this is the first real show of work by the first years. No photos of the work yet, must get some next week.

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So in the end I put up two pieces, the mountain map and the sea weaving, alongside the two inspiration weaves/words. After testing I decided the pieces looked good on the wall – I think better than showing flat on a plinth or shelf. I got some useful minions to help me out too!

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Using the wall gave me a lot of options to play with angles and the view of both sides:

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Overall thoughts. The small pieces are nice, but I definitely want to do at least one big piece. I may not do three all the same size, but at least one work can be underway while I finalise the next two. Do I want to keep the threads loose at the back? This emphasises the two-sided nature of the map, and the excess of information which is lost in the view at the front (echoing the map versus the map legend). Does this become obvious though or does it just look untidy?

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A conversation between maker and object

I have had a few days away from the studio visiting family, giving me a chance to catch up on some reading while travelling. A couple of very interesting things sparked my attention, both on the topic of the meaning of objects and materials.

First, the book Designing Things (1). This is one off our MADM recommended reading list (which I have not yet had a chance to really look at in depth).

The general gist of what I highlighted was a discussion on meanings, and how they are not “an inherent property of the things themselves, nor are they total fabrications of the human mind; they are suspended in the spaces between us and all that is around us”. I was very intrigued by the description of a reciprocity of agency between things and the makers of things. Although I am not sure I really understand properly what agency means. Another key point was on objects as signs, and how the form and meaning of an object are interrelated and how is is a fundamental concern of what an object says. Something must have a form in order to be seen, but it must also make sense in order for it to be understood and used.

“…designers do not create meanings – they create form; it is users who create meanings. The network within which things exist serves as a location where designers in the process of design and users in the process of use construct meanings. Each actor – designer, user, thing, meaning – in the context of the network and in interaction plays its agentic role in making.”

Meanings do not exist within people’s minds, and neither are they embedded within things. Meanings exist in a non-physical, non-psychical network that includes people and all things. Meanings should not be thought of as entities, but rather as structure in motion constantly evolving, heavily context-dependent and generated by individuals, social groups and things themselves.”

So, I can but simply suggest meaning in my making by choosing certain forms, materials, colours and textures – so to nudge users into constructing certain meanings. This brings us back to my Challenge of the moment – better understanding the materials I am using. I need to look at the suggestive meaning of materials beyond just its obvious touchable qualities. On the train home, with a surprisingly good 3G signal, I found an article by textile artist N. Nimkulrat (2). She talked about the material and its role as an active participant in the creative process. (This is what I think agency is essentially about – is that right?). Anyway, the core of the article was about giving consideration to the expressivity of a material in a given context.

Materials are not passive, nor are they instruments, but interact with the maker’s artistic intelligence when his or her hands, mind and eyes are engaged in a creative process….through the act of [making]…meaning was embedded in the physical material, gradually transformed into an artefact, which in turn articulated this meaning through its physicality back to the maker.

So again, the message to me is that I need to explore the expressive qualities of a material – knowing that materials with different tactile and visual qualities will express different things. On top of that many fibres have a long history and complex social context around their usage. This may be a help or hindrance to what I am trying to say.

Current thoughts are definitely focussed on fibres. I have started working with paper, predominantly for its ordinariness, and looking at using silk for its extra-ordinariness. My intention is to try to stay limited to allow me to explore more making processes, and not get too distracted by shiny new things again. I’m missing stitching though. Possibly I should also look at how I can utilise stitching with these two different types fibres.

(1) Designing Things, Prasad Boradkar, Bloomsbury 2010
(2) Nimkulrat, N (2012). Hands-on intellect: integrating craft practice into design research. International Journal of Design 6(3), 1-14

Making as Ritual: MA Project proposal 1.5

So then. The biggest piece of progress I have made over the last 10 weeks study break is without doubt on getting some focus for my proposal. I am finally happy that I have a defined area which brings together all of the strands I have been grasping at. Clearly there is still much work to do to explore it, but that starts this week as term 2 begins.

Making as ritual

Research question: How do we find sacred space in the never-sleeping city?

Background:

Above all else, what fascinates me is the fundamental nature of our reality. Reality has many facets which intertwine together to make a unique set of experiences for each person’s life; we can never truly know if two people ever experience the same reality as they observe the world. The most interesting places are the boundaries between layers of reality: the threshold between the physical and the imagined, or the observed and the impression. “Edges are the fertile places”. Occasionally we inhabit these boundaries – in a moment of stillness or contemplation, or the dream just before waking. These are our sacred spaces.

Throughout human history, ritual has been used to create sacred space and access knowledge beyond conscious realities. From formal religious rituals to communicate with Gods & Goddesses, ceremonies to mark the turning of the year, to the rites of passage which mark our lives, or to the everyday, unseen rituals which get us through our days. Objects, and their making are often central to these rituals. The making itself being core to magic of the actions being undertaken.

For my MA project I will focus on Making as Ritual.

— What commonalities can we see in the processes and products of ritual making?
— What makes a profane object sacred, and how does the creation of a sacred object change how it is used?
— How many makers form their own rituals – in their own sacred space – in which to create their works? What does this mean for the user?
— What effects can making as part of a ritual activity have upon the maker, and subsequently on the user?

And a final, personal objective:
— How can I find balance between the silence and spirituality of the natural world around and within us, with the unrelenting disquiet and drive for progress which pervades our modern city lives?

Methodology:

I plan to look at a number of different ritual cycles concurrently to explore my proposal at different levels. My current thoughts are:

1. Making through the Ritual Year. Focussing on my own heritage, the folklore of the British Isles, bringing in comparisons with traditions from other parts of the world based on primary research wherever possible.

2. Daily rituals: since the 1 Jan 2015, I have begun a daily making activity to create a daily 5″ quilt square to express the way I am feeling each day. Over time, this act will become a ritual in itself which can be examined. The squares will be brought together at the end of each month, then over the course of the year as a record.

3. How makers make: looking at how others use their own rituals in making, whether conscious or subconscious. I need to explore this idea further, but am considering photography, video and interviews with other makers.

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

Trees and tesseracts

Well.  Week 2 is almost done, and the pace is speeding up! I have had time for yesterday’s mindmapping session to seep in now. Although I did feel a bit overwhelmed with the chaos of my map (having only just scrapped my previous proposal 6 hours earlier), it was a really great session.  As someone who has been a creative facilitator for 8 odd years, it was pleasantly freeing to be on the other side of the process for a change, and let someone else guide you.

I have re-translated yesterday’s map onto a bigger big of paper on my wall and added more ideas to it, so I can continue to expand as time goes on.  We need to make more connections between our ideas and expand links to the work of other artists – relevant to our ideas or techniques we like or processes etc.  I still don’t have a research question yet (I think I need a few more days to leave this to settle) but the links between all of my components are starting to become clearer.

Current project working title: “Soul Mirror”Photo 12-09-2014 19 17 04

 

One of things Bridget said which I felt I really ought to take to heart, was the advice to just keep  making, and strengthen the connection between your head and your hands.  I have been having doubts that I am good enough to do the course – but I know I am being irrational.  I know I have potential to make good stuff, I just need practice – for which we have plenty of time.  So…. serendipity struck, and on my way back from my morning swim I came across a small bush (more like half a tree), just lying all decoratively by the path. How could I resist!

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After an afternoon spent playing with my tree (followed by playing with the hoover to clean up the bits of tree from most of the house), this was the creation which resulted:

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This is “Tomorrow-land”. The box is an organic representation of a hypercube (tesseract) using tree bits and linen twine – the hypercube being the only way we can represent 4D space using our 3 spatial dimensions. The small man sits alone within the older inner cube, fearful of a journey into the expanding space time of tomorrow.

It may be rough and ready, but it’s nice to be making!

ANT xx

Art practice-based research and the scientist’s mind

My mum told me that with all of this learning that we’re doing, that I should give my busy brain a chance not to think occasionally and let it stew over ideas quietly. Well since coming out of yesterday’s lecture my brain has been stewing more than I would like. Something has bothered me.

The lecture yesterday was the first of a series of shared lectures for all of the different Camberwell MA students. Our own subject leader, Maiko Tsutsumi had the pleasure of opening with a talk on ‘practice based research’ with an intent to set us down the right path as we all get started. It was an interesting lecture, although it felt very much like the tip of a rather large academic iceberg. But something she said really bothered me. A the time I thought it was simply my worry that I don’t yet have much of an art practice (I feel like I fell into quilting somewhat by accident not passion).

I thought about it on the way home. I thought about it while making dinner. I tried not to think about it while watching this weeks rather splendid episode of Great British Bake-off (does anyone else now desperately want to make a Swedish Princess cake??). It wasn’t until the witching hour that I realised what it was she had said that perturbed me:

“theory and your art practice should feed each other, you shouldn’t make a theory and then create art to illustrate it”

Ah. Isn’t that exactly the premise scientific research works on?

During my PhD I set out a hypothesis based upon a gap in the physics ‘body of knowledge’. My research looked at other people’s theories about this gap, analysed them, developed new theories and examined a range of data sources to test and validate if the hypothesis was right or wrong. Essentially the data merely illustrates the rightness or wrongness of your theory. Perhaps it is not really surprising then, that I would be taking the same approach to my MA? “So!”, my brain said this morning just as the first planes to Heathrow started waking up London. “You are being theory-led not practice-led”.

Looking again at my project proposal, I see that is indeed exactly what I have done. I had an idea about ritual and liminal space, and it’s impact on the human condition – and had set myself up to nicely illustrate my idea by making some nice things. It is no wonder that I can’t connect my proposal with the type of art and artists that inspire me, nor can I answer the rather reasonable questions – what do you want to make and from what materials? That’s not really putting art as the centre of my research…

So what now?

In an unusually quick decision which feels both logically and instinctively like the right thing to do, MA Proposal v1.2 is now officially binned. Kaput. Nada. I am going to attempt to turn my head upside down and start from my craft and work outwards. Although the list of artists that I really like (and can actually name, without googling!) is eclectic, there is a distinct strand of thought connecting them – and connecting them not just with my intent in making my own stuff but also with my own personal philosophy and goals in life. Why on earth did I not start here?

I intend to use this connection to be the starting point for framing a research question which will help me develop a unique, personal artistic practice. I am sure there will be aspects of the liminal space idea and of art invoking raw human emotions which will come back, but hopefully reframed in a different context – one which I can drive by the creative process itself.

I’ll describe my new idea in a later post once my brain has had a bit more time stewing on it. I’m going to not think about it for now (thanks mum). Oddly though, even though I intend to completely rewrite my proposal, I feel like the first part of the jigsaw has just slotted into place.

Angelique xx