I remember very clearly the Symposium held this time last year, watching the then second years floundering under the pressure of presenting and responding to difficult questions. How quickly the world turns and it was our turn!
I went in the first group, a mix of people doing more functional, art based work with personal and poetic based content. It was a good grouping and I think all of the presentations in the group went well. I was pleased with how mine went, I did what I set out to do, although it is hard to tell how it went down with the tutors. I didn’t get any direct questions either – there was only one question about communicating emotions to the audience asked to all four of us. Perhaps no-one had anything to say to me, or couldn’t engage with my topic? Not sure.
The rest of the day was very intense but ok, most of the presentations weren’t too bad – most people had been a little more interesting than just a straightforward chronological catalogue of what they had done. As with last year, those who clearly do not understand their project nor their context stand out a mile. Also painfully standing out were those who are doing the course ‘just because’ and have no intention of building on it later. Perhaps people should just be more honest: saying that their MA project is just a one-off to build skills and they are going straight into an ordinary job afterwords. It would be much easier than experiencing a mauling under questioning. Overall, my main takeaway was about use of language, and how easy it is for someone to make sweeping statements and assumptions about people using their choice of words. You must be aware of how people will interpret the messages you put across. Also, there is no such thing as “Eastern” or “Western”!
First assessment box ticked!
Show: T-6 weeks
27 days until show build
So, the final few weeks approach for our second year colleagues. As part of their assessment for Unit 2, they had to give an 8min presentation on their resolved work and the context which sits behind it. With 19 students due to graduate it was quite a full day of presentation, and with much to be learned for us first years who will be in this position in a year’s time.
Overall, I was impressed with some of the completed works which were being presented. To be honest though, I was very surprised by the number of gaps in people’s knowledge of their own projects and their intent so close to the end of the course. A few too many unanswered why’s. Rather than reflect on the individual’s concerned, I want instead to look at the key questions which the tutors asked of everyone – particularly those which we really should be able to address by the time of the final show next July.
1. CONTEXT IS KEY
- Why are you inspired by this particular craft culture / time period?
- Ever process you use has its own cultural and historical significance, do you understand fully the significance of the processes you have chosen to use?
Mixing and matching processes brings with it a mix and match of influences and histories – I need to be aware of this and consciously manage the additional narratives they bring. Be careful also not to get too abstract, all work should be contextualised. I find it very easy to fall down theoretical rabbit holes, so need to watch out here!
2. CRAFT / ART / DESIGN
- How did you manage your design process? Why did you make X…why were you inspired by X…?
- Does your design methodology match the order of the actual processes you have used to construct your pieces?
- What is the value of the technique in your work?
Interesting debate – am I coming into my work from the angle of craft art or fine art – does it matter?
- Why use this material and not another?
- Where does each of the elements you are using come from, who made them?
I need to fully understand and be able to articulate why I use fabric and paper in my work. Why plant dyes also – and be careful of assumptions on shared understanding, particularly when using ill-defined works like “natural”. I should also look into the full associations between cloth and memory.
4. THE AUDIENCE
- Who are your audience?
- Have you considered whether your audience / viewer will understand what you are trying to get across with your work?
Be wary of making assumptions with the connections you make in your work, everything should be fully backed up by research, hypothesis or testing. Unless of course you want to make it “about you” but this may limit your work’s ability to engage with others.
Much still to learn, much still to do!