Today each member of the class gives a presentation of their project work: ‘organics’. We each have about 15-20 minutes to explain to our colleagues and tutors the story of our project work. The sketchbook is the medium here for tracing progress from initial subject idea to the visual research and design development that informs each of the eight swatches most of us have chosen for our final presentation. Many of the class began their preparation well before the Autumn School began. Mark, for example, had focused on walled gardens prior to choosing a corn on the cob from Jane’s shopping basket when it was suggested that it would be difficult in the confines of the drawing studio to draw and paint a walled garden – from life! That said his restrained, almost minimalist collection of swatches was impressive.
Known as the Group Crit, this exercise was most inspiring and highlighted the very different ways many of us had approached the project. Once the presentation was given each of the two tutors (for weaving and knitting) questioned the student, and then we were allowed our questions too. It was quite clear that some of us were already producing work that, in the right quarter, might hold commercial promise. The care and imagination present in many of the samples, and sketchbook recording of design development, made many of us think hard about what we had achieved. I know I came away thinking: I could have done a whole lot better than I did. There were so many gaps and shortcomings.
As a weaver I have to admit to being fascinated by the presentations of the knitters. Their integration of colour and design I found most inspiring. Much of their work was worlds away from what my mother used to do in front of the television! I am resolved to have a go with the needles this Christmas break. If my 12 year old daughter Meg can knit I reckon I must stand a chance.
One of the hardest things for me to do was decide a single image of each presentation for the inclusion in the gallery of yesterday’s blog. I did take photos of every piece and some example pages from sketchbooks. Class members reading this can find all this photos on my on-line gallery. If you feel my choice doesn’t do you justice please say so and I’ll change the image.
Overall there seemed to be two styles of presentation: one that was clearly a ‘collection’; the other a record of a journey of discovery, the process of development was evident. Those who produced the ‘collections’ had, by and large woven many, many samples and had gradually identified a common theme or style of execution. For myself the presentation as a record of a journey in steps of technical achievement and design thinking is where I am right now. I think it will be some time before I can view such presentations as collections.
Having taken up the whole morning with the Group Crit. the rest of the day is devoted to the visual research element required by Project 2 and an introduction to ‘hand-manipulation in weaving’ in the workshop. Project 2 is quite a step further on than ‘organics’. It has no global theme as such, more an observation that ‘as a textile designer it is necessary to develop the ability to translate visual research and design development into original, exciting and innovative fabrics’. This notion of aspiring to be a textile designer is gradually beginning to sink in for me. In truth, before I started this course, I had not understood just how remarkable textile design can be in summoning up place, period, season (and that’s just for starters). Textiles can reflect and amplify aspects of architecture, the human body, the urban and the rural, tradition and innovation.
There are two components in the initial visual research that are new to us, the Mood Board and Market Research Board. Well, the first isn’t an entirely new concept because during the class visit to the full-time students’ studio on Day 1 of the course we encountered several good examples. Here’s one Mood Board created by a 2nd year BA student. As to Market Research, this component asks the student, for the first time, to begin to develop knowledge of end use and particular types of textile products produced across the industry. We are asked to focus on either a brand or a designer/maker and produce a board, which visually represents the images from the retailer or designer best suited to the type of fabrics we are intending to create.
The last hour and half or so is spent in the workshop gaining an introduction to three techniques that requires hand-manipulation in the weaving process: Inlay, Rya and Leno. But more on these in the next blog!