The first piece of primary research that fed into my concept was our group research activity around Kendal at the beginning of the project, as one of my peers was looking at shop window displays and suggested the concept ‘objects of desire’. This interested me, however I wanted to narrow it down and my visit to the National Museum of Iceland helped to achieve this, as the interactive display immediately made me think about why we are so attached to our possessions.
After exploring a range of ideas surrounding human attachment to possessions, I found that I was most interested in the contrasting lifestyles of hoarders and minimalists. Watching the Minimalist documentary helped to form my project, as I decided to partake in the ‘Minimalist Challenge’ and this was very influential, as I could apply personal experience to my work. I also found that gallery visits were very influential, as I discovered more artists and techniques to take into workshops. Seeing the ‘Venus of the Rags’ at Liverpool Tate was especially influential, as it gave me the idea to use the contrast between colour and lack of colour to represent hoarding and minimalism. This practical technique was carried throughout most stages of my final piece development. On reflection, I realise that my most influential pieces of research were primary, as I discovered less obvious ideas which helped to make my final piece more meaningful.
After spending two years studying A Level art, starting the foundation course was quite a shock to me, as I wasn’t used to researching topics so thoroughly, especially when it came to primary research. I feel that I have come a long way since sixth form, as I have learnt that this research only forms the basis of a concept and it is the practical development that has really pushed my ideas forward. At the start of the year I wouldn’t have been able to synthesise ideas all my development together to form a conceptual final outcome, as I was so used to designing a final outcome and sticking with this idea throughout a whole project when studying art at A Level. I have also found that reflecting on my work throughout the foundation course has helped me to recognise my strengths and weaknesses, which I used to my advantage during the FMP, as I knew what to build on and improve.
After my previous projects, I have learnt that the most effective way for me to develop my initial ideas is to take a range of practical techniques into quick development workshops, as this stops me from becoming too focused on my theoretical research. I therefore based my early practical development around a range of primary photographs of individual’s possessions to cover all my initial, obvious ideas. After this, I began to look at artists and adopt a more abstract way of working. Working within my new specialism led to me developing my textile skills, as most of the textile techniques I experimented with were fairly new or completely unfamiliar to me. The dissolvable fabric was particularly interesting to use, as I hadn’t even heard of this medium before and the versatility of the fabric meant that I could quickly experiment to push my ideas forward.
Even though it was troublesome at times, I think the development of my final piece went well, as I went on a long journey by sketching out over ten ideas and combining these ideas to reach my final outcome. This idea of constantly developing a final outcome has taken me a long time to fully understand, however I have come to realise that a meaningful outcome can’t be produced from the first idea I think of, as the idea will always be too obvious and lack interest. I am pleased with the aesthetics of my final outcome, as I spent a lot of time choosing and stitching each possession to give a polished finish.
I have struggled with my concepts throughout the foundation course and unfortunately this was no different through the FMP. I feel that I have constantly been working with a concept, hitting a block and having to make a change. This has pushed my problem solving skills to the next level, as I have had to reflect on my work to think of solutions at several points throughout the FMP. Even though it is useful to improve my problem solving skills, I often felt that I was spending too much time worrying about work when I could have been pushing ideas though development. I think one of the reasons for this is that I always want my development pieces to be aesthetically pleasing and I therefore spend longer on them than I should. In the future, I aim to work in a looser way and be more experimental, as I realise I was often too precious about my work and I understand that the aim of a development piece is to push ideas forward rather than look perfect.
I have particularly enjoyed working on the sewing machines, as I had never used one before foundation and I feel this has worked to my advantage by enabling me to be more experimental. The sewing machines have also enabled me to combine my love for illustration with my specialism, which is something I hadn’t previously considered.
One of the most important things I learnt was that it is important to step away from an idea when I begin to struggle to visualise it, as I found that it was crucial to reflect on workshops to decide whether I should push an idea further or consider other ideas. When taking an idea on a journey, I learnt that speaking to peers and tutors about my process really helped to push the idea forward, as I was able to gather a range of opinions to inform my own. My peers were particularly helpful when I came to block with my final outcome, as a group discussion helped me to synthesise all my final outcome plans to form a new and more meaningful design.
In the future I will ensure that I continue to regular reflect on my work and ask others for their opinions, as I realise that it is very easy to become caught up in research and forget that the most important part of a project is to communicate a message. Even though I will be working with students within the same specialism next year, I will make sure that I discuss my ideas with people from outside my class, as I have found it useful to speak to peers from a range of specialisms throughout the FMP. Even though I prefer to work in textiles, I now understand the importance of working within a range of specialism during the development stages, as this unfamiliarity is what led to ‘happy accidents’ and the discovery of innovative ideas during FMP.
Reflect on the exhibition process, how did you find hanging and installing your work? What was the private view like? What comments did you get about your work?
I encountered multiple issues when installing my final piece, as I wanted the viewer to walk around my blind and it therefore needed to be installed in the centre of the room. My initial idea was to nail the blind rail into the ceiling, as this is what the rail was designed for and would keep my blind secure. However, this meant my blind was too high and viewers wouldn’t have been able to pull the cord. I therefore had to speak to tutors and peers to design a hanging installation which would be secure enough for people to pull on. This seemed impossible at first, however attaching transparent cords to a baton turned out to be a successful solution and I am really pleased with the overall finish.