Making, Drawing and Writing:
The task for this week was all about walking and drawing – we were given an area and had to draw while we walked round. The drawing could be done anyway we liked, I chose a fairly literal interpretation and drew things I saw. While others were more expressive and did lots of mark making.
After our 10-minute walk we had to describe our walk in 10 words, which we then passed on to our neighbor. They would then draw their interpretation of the words we had written, it was very interesting to see someone else’s point of view and how different the drawings were. The final part was a refection on our walk and a second drawing looking back on it. I did a more expressive style this time to convey emotions and feels rather than being descriptive.
We also had a talk from Cathy and Celia Johnson – a lot of Celia’s work involves drawing on walks. She says walking stimulates the senses and allows you to come up with new ideas and see things you had never noticed before. Celia mainly does continuous line drawings where she is constantly looking at the environment not what she is drawing. She finds that walking tends to trigger memories and makes you see things anew. She takes her sketches into a studio to develop them into a final piece.
This week proved very insightful, it made me look at different ways of sketching and gathering ideas. I also learnt about alternative ways of developing ideas in the studio such as using words. Celia gave me a good idea about the life and workings of an artist is like.
Here is my initial sketch whilst I was walking, followed by my words to describe my walk. The next is my neighbour Hannah’s drawing of my words, which involves more mark making and expresses emotions. The last is my reflective sketch looking back on my walk.
The first part of todays session is all about stories, a story can give your work meaning and keep the audience engaged. This is particularly important for exhibitions and publicity. Cathy came up with an exercise to practice our story telling using objects as inspiration. We had several objects which were all passed round the group, individually we had to think about what they were and what story they could have behind them. I chose this seedpod that had a design burnt into it. I had to give this object a meaning and purpose and created a piece of writing about it; This baby’s rattle comes from a small tribe in Western Africa, within their tribe it is traditional to give a new born baby a rattle made of a seed pod from the sacred tree. This tree is believed to be the bringer of life and a rattle is meant to be good luck. The markings on it are made by the women of the tribe wanting to wish the new arrival good luck, the designs are created using a hot poker. This object is actually a musical instrument however it had a very different meaning to me. This illustrated to us how objects can bring back memories and trigger very different emotions and meaning to each of us.
We also had an attempt at story telling using an old envelope as a starting point. The writing did not come easily to me and I found this exercise challenging – however after an initial brain block I had an idea and ran with it. We also had the opportunity to read them out, it was amazing how many different ideas there had been. It is clear to me that story telling can really enhance your work.
We had another lecture from Leah McLaughlin this time on her research work in Centre for Applied Research in Inclusive Arts & Design (CARIAD). She was using her skills of documenting work by using video to create short clips that show the work CARIAD do. I learnt how important it was to have a story behind the video, this gives it much more power as people can relate easier to it. Using video is a very good way of communicating – it is much more engaging and appeals to more people. A silent video or one involving no talking also had the advantage that it doesn’t matter what language you speak, everyone can understand the meaning.
Leah gave us several examples of her work on www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/cariad
We also had a talk from Richard Crandon from On-Par Productions – which are a small film company. The main aspect of their work is documentary film, however they also do commercial advertising as well. Richards’s talk gave me a clear insight into what starting up your own company is like and some advise on things he has learnt. Such as building up lots of connections at university that may come in useful later. I’m sure this will prove very useful in coming years. It was also a great insight into documentary film and using film to tell a story.
This week was all about writing about our work in not just a descriptive way but a reflection as well. We had to think about our emotions and what we felt while being creative and making. In order to do this exercise we had to make something; Cathy set us the theme of ‘Flight’ and we worked in groups to create a 3D object. After completed we then had to create a piece of reflective writing on this.
Reflecting on Making:
Reflections on our 3D mobile.
We started off with a brainstorm to share our ideas and come up with our initial deign idea in relation to the theme of ‘flight’. We came up with many ideas such as planes, butterflies, dandelions, bees and dragonflies. We decided on the theme of butterflies.
We thought of butterflies as it relates to the work we had been doing in the studio. Some of our materials, such as paper, notebook and drawings also had butterflies on them. Butterfly prints are also very on trend at the moment. This subconsciously prompted us towards butterflies during our brainstorm. We chose to combine our butterfly theme with a hanging mobile to fit in with the 3D aspect as well as the theme of ‘flight’.
As textiles students we decided to think about the textures and patterns of our materials. We used our materials as inspiration and thought of origami – the art of paper folding. We googled several tutorials on how to make an origami butterflies, we found a quick and simple method. The internet was a very useful resource for generating and refining our ideas. The initial folding for the origami butterfly was very therapeutic but as the design got more complex it got more stressful. We had to keep pausing the video to help each other. This worked to bond us as a group.
We experimented with different textures and patterns, we also tried paper cutting, which proved very effective. Each butterfly was different and reflected our individual interests and skills. This lead to a diverse mobile with everyone’s input. We attached the butterflies to the mobile using wire – this gave the effect that the butterflies were flying.
We felt great sense of achievement, relief and proudness as we hung the mobile from the ceiling. Overall we worked well as a group – everyone had their own ideas and we were able to put all of these in our final piece to create a beautiful 3D object.
I found this week hugely helpful – I have always found writing about my work difficult. Cathy was able to give advise on how to reflect on a creative process. I feel I have greatly improved as a writer and designer throughout this week. It was also very fun to do some group work – most of our studio work is individual so group work was a nice change and created a very diverse piece.
So week 2 of constellation was all about process and how to describe it and document it. We started off with something simple, an everyday process we all do. My group chose the process of making a sandwich. We had to discuss the process first before documenting it in the form of a diagram using pictures. Then convert these images to bullet points. This exercise made me think about how much we take for granted and assume people know – for example that you butter bread using a knife. We had to go back to the very basics to complete this exercise.
We then applied all we had learnt and described a process in our practice. I chose screen-printing – after our discussion we formed a word-based diagram explaining the process. I had to be very methodical and think about very step making sure we had given clear instructions. We made our diagram like a recipe with ingredients and a method. These exercises will prove very useful when writing about my work, or explaining it to someone.
The next activity was the marshmallow challenge; this evolves a handful of spaghetti, masking tape and a marshmallow. The challenge is to build the biggest tower the will support your marshmallow at the top. We worked in groups and started off with a brainstorm discussing how we could make a tower, we came up with using a cube structure. Each individual made sections of a cube that we then put together. It turns out spaghetti isn’t the easiest tool to work with, it kept snapping and wasn’t very strong. However we kept going and managed to make 3 stories of cubes, which were placed on top of each other. It turned out the cubes weren’t as strong as we hoped and our tower sadly fell over. This taught us we were too ambitious at the start and should have gone for something simple. But the challenge made us work as a team, which proved very effective; we also had to think outside the box to come up with ideas to strengthen out cubes. We used our discipline to help and weaved the spaghetti together. However this still wasn’t enough and didn’t support out tower.
In the afternoon we had a talk from Leah on documenting practice, her research is on film and she has filmed several artists at work. I learnt about how film can be used as documentation, you could film yourself in the studio to keep a record of your creative process. Alternatively audio recording, journals or sketchbooks will work. She showed us the importance of keeping a record of our work and how it can give it more meaning. This was a great help and has inspired me to start a journal.
Overall week 2 of constellation has proved very fun and immensely useful. It has also made me make a few improvements on my own studio practice.
I chose Cathy’s Describing Creative Practice as documenting and describing work is a key part to textiles; it is vital for exhibitions as well as advertising and promoting your work. These are all important aspects of being a successful designer. I also chose it as it has a practice side – I work and learn best through doing so this module was perfect for me.
The lectures started by trying to refine our senses, which is a very useful skill to have as a designer. Cathy started off by giving us lots of different objects that we had to either feel, look at and smell them. We than had to describe and record what our senses where discovering. This was on the whole not too difficult, however when it came to describing a smell it became much harder. I found this very difficult to do without it referring to something else. This exercise also expanded my vocabulary as it made me think for new words to describe these objects.
The second part of the session Cathy gave a lecture on creativity and how as creative practitioners we go from a starting point or idea and it develops into a final piece or idea. I found this every interesting as I could relate to each stage of creativity as it has happened to me.
The final part of our session was all about exploring our creativity, the brief was to create a sensory object out of the materials provided. We worked in groups and after an initial period of experimentation and playing we had decided on a sea theme, inspired by the blue colours of the foils we had. Ideas started going around and we finally decided on making a sensory jellyfish. After a while of making our piece we thought it didn’t look much like a jellyfish but actually worked well as a hat. Therefore we changed our course and carried on making a hat. This was very successful and when the hat was worn it gave an interactive sensory experience. We applied what we had learnt in the morning to make our piece so successful.