Commuting for the first time in 15 years: I realise how fortunate I have been to avoid the discomfort and all that wasted time! As the train pulls into Bradford Interchange there’s the surprise at how at extensive the city is. Bradford College is just a ten-minute walk, past St George’s Hall, the Town Hall and the Alhambra Theatre, up the hill towards the university, destination The Yorkshire Craft Centre where the Department of Arts and Media have their base. There’s a class of 15 or so, mainly weavers; a few knitters, but not enough embroiderers to run their part of the course. At the course briefing I find myself next to Marina (a lawyer) and Bee (a mum of two). It’s a very mixed group experience-wise: some long-time weavers, some virtual beginners, some with a fine art background, some without. What is impressive and fortuitous is that the course seems to be designed for such a mix. The technical side of things (that I so need) will be absorbed into a the flow of course units that embrace the historical and contemporary context, studies in drawing, handling colour, materials, the use of CAD, scanning and digital photograpahy, the practice of research and development and an understanding of the commercial world of textile design. The course director Andrea Wilde describes Level 1 and Project 1 ‘Organics’. It’s a read-through the course document, but it’s necessary and fills in many gaps from the outline we all received through the post.
Enrolement is painless and very well organised. The class visit Daley’s, the local art shop across the road from the college; take in the craft centre gallery, the shop-floor size workshop full of looms, knitting and sewing machines, with a friendly technician who says quietly ‘you’re going to have fun!’.
The afternoon is spent drawing. We have been asked to bring in ‘organic material. Plants, sea-shells, fruit, a veritable garden centre of plants cover the tables . . .
I have a collection of photographs of ferns taken in a Cumbrian lane. Andrea says ‘you need the real thing’ so I aim to collect some examples from Thornes Park early tomorrow morning.
The drawing exercise using a variety of media (charcoal, graphite pencil, ink wash) is invaluable. It’s undertaken in a spirit of researching your ‘organic’ focus. But we start with a kind of ice-breaker exercise: draw these words energetic, noisy, smooth and calm
The next step is work on different approach to drawing our chosen organic object. I produce a variety of experiments with charcoal, graphite pencil and ink. I collect these images together on a single sheet of A3. I sense that this ‘practice’ as part of the initial and necessary research is as fundamental to the weaver as it might be to a painter. I’m intrigued and heartened that the process has been laid out so clearly and imaginatively. This is reinforced by a short visual presentation of past student work at Level 1. Some of it is most impressive and stimulating, particularly the example of a sequence of work looking at the red pepper! But here’s an example of one of my studies of a fern.
Perhaps my highpoint of the day was visiting the BA Year 2/3 studio to look at student sketch books and ‘mood boards’. Some of this work was impressive and most imaginative. Here’s a selection:
Tomorrow we spend the day in the Drawing Studio – getting to grips with COLOUR!