This is an evaluation and reflection of my research for my dissertation so far.
I started off my research by reading books on rug making, I looked at the history of rag rugs and the methods of making pile rugs. This provided me with a starting point for the rest of my research. There were several recurring themes I picked up on, the first was the impact of the Industrial Revolution on rug making. This lead me to research the Arts and Crafts Movement and its point of view on the Industrial Revolution. I discovered some of William Morris’ writings on the subject as well as on socialism which proved very useful. Further research brought me to also look at the Bauhaus, which was influenced by Morris and continued to keep the traditional techniques alive. As well as looking at the Bauhaus’ main aims and objectives I also focused some my research to the weaving workshop as this was most relevant.
The second aspect I gained from my initial research was the effect that war had on rug making in Britain. The Second World War slogan ‘make do and mend’ provided a boost to rag rugs. This lead me too look else where to see if war has effected any other countries rug making, I discovered the weavers in Afghanistan and their ‘war rugs’. I was intrigued to learn more about how war had affected their culture and how this had impacted on their rug making.
I wanted to do a comparison between countries and cultures so the other side of my research has been on Moroccan rugs, this has been harder to find information on as many of the weaver can’t write and most information is passed on through word of mouth. However a research trip to Marrakech, where I was taught how to make a knotted rug, proved very useful in gathering information. I discovered connections between Moroccan beliefs and other cultures. For example only women in Morocco can weave, this was similar the Bauhaus were the weavers workshop was known as the ‘women’s department’.
I would like to continue my research on Moroccan rugs and look into the imagery on them. A lot of the designs have a symbolic meaning and I would like to learn more about this. This contrasts from this British rag rugs where the design was just there to make it look nicer rather than any symbolic meaning.
I also brought in research I had done previously, the concept of taking old scraps of fabric and giving them a new meaning by making them into rugs reminded my of a concept I learnt in Constellation last year – that of ‘bricolage’. Hebdige mentions it in relation to subcultures in his book Subcultures; The Meaning of Style. This brought me on to research other theories of ‘bricolage’ and I discovered Claude Levi-Strauss and his book The Savage Mind.
I feel that my research has helped my develop my ideas and shaped my dissertation into an interesting and relevant study. I think I am continually improving my research skills and am able to pick out the best on most relevant info and quotes from a text much more quickly and easily. I am starting to analyse my findings and link together several key aspects. I have found it really useful to keep a journal for my ideas, this means I have all my ideas recorded so I can refer back to them. It has shown my the development my dissertation has already taken since my first idea and I shall continue to record my findings.
I found the dissertation seminars immensely useful, I really benefitted from talking to other students doing a similar theme. We were able to share ideas and books, we also produced a mind map where we were able to link theories together. I found I was able to develop my theme and expand my pool of resources with the help of other students.
The tutorials with my dissertation and subject tutors has provided me with good discussions on my topic and enabled me to refine my ideas and formulate a cohesive argument. These tutorials have led me to think outside the box and expand my research to other areas, this will give my study more variety and more relevance in the wider art world.
The dissertation proposal form has made me record my ideas and plans for my dissertation, this has enabled me to see where I need to do more work and develop my ideas further. It has provided me with a good starting point and a basic structure for my dissertation.
Overall I feel I have improved my research skills as well as my ability to communicate my ideas and record them on paper. I am really excited to continue my research and begin my dissertation.