The trouble with blogging:
This is a second attempt to record what happened in Exercise 3, the trouble is my ideas didn’t form in a particularly linear way. I started off thinking about Karen Margolis and how to join circles at their boundaries but then redirected myself to consider how concentric circles fit together. As I shifted the physical shapes around my desk, I became increasingly distracted by overlapping them to create the pages of a book. This is a really natural way of working, it is perfectly usual to have several ideas and projects on the go at the same time. What it does mean is that explaining how my research and investigations informed my samples and then evaluating the outcomes has become messy. I’m still not sure I am blogging effectively. I prefer to blog at the end of each exercise so that I have a linear chronological record of what I have done. I should maybe blog as I go but even after 20 months with the OCA, I still find this an intrusion to my practise. Switching from physical ‘work’ to staring at a computer screen, disrupts my output. I very much admire my contemporaries who blog more frequently.
I wonder since I have had to adjust the way I use my sketchbook (on advice of tutor: less narrative, more drawing) if my use of the online blog also needs revamping?
Anyway, this is what I learned, not really in the order I wished to discuss it but hopefully it will still make sense.
Joining Curves: Bridget Riley
I spent some time looking at Bridget Riley’s work, thinking about how her curves fit, like they belong together. In particular I studied Reve, admiring the gentle rhythmic pattern that the interlocking shapes create. I could lose myself in this painting as my eyes follow the undulations, it reminds me of looking at a stream. The curves are like ripples in the water, as it negotiates its way past sticks and stones along the river bed the shapes twist and contort. The colour palette assists this restful suggestion, I can almost hear the tinkling of flowing water! It is almost a shame that Riley is so well known for her black and white OpArt compositions because her colour use is extraordinarily sensitive and gentle.
I wondered how I could join the smooth curving shapes without disrupting the flow. I felt slightly at odds with the purpose of the exercise and my desire to create traditional seams like in a patchwork quilt.
I felt that the course required me to do more than this, to make a feature of the join, to draw attention to it, to make it decorative – I understood how this would benefit the aesthetics of some pieces (Margolis being an obvious example-the wires that hold the circles together and the tails of loose thread are part of the energy) But I couldn’t see how I would make this work for Riley.
I thought about how concentric circles fit inside one another, which seemed to be a perfect way to make curved edges fit together neatly, without a gap.
Once I started leaving a slight gap between the rings, I felt the composition was more exciting. It also offered space for me to create some decorative joins. It seemed I would have to put my idea of Riley style curves to one side for now.
There are elements of the sample above that appeal to me but on the whole I feel it is rather formulaic and lacks excitement. I think it is best viewed as a technical experiment into what would be physically achievable. Some of the more complex joins that combine wire, sequins and beads are particularly suited the plain pearlescent card because their circular shape echoes the round composition. I am also interested in the piece of transparent plastic tube turned on its side as this feels a little more unexpected.
I used a combination of sketching and making to investigate possibilities that I felt were slightly less obvious ways to join curves. This meant not everything I made was successful and at times I wondered if I was actually fulfilling the brief but each piece seemed to spawn another idea that might be useful in the future. For example, the way this sample was constructed could probably be considered joining flush surfaces rather than a curved edge but I discovered it was a useful techniques since it made a lightweight, stretchy tube with interesting negative spaces.
I particularly enjoyed the exploration of physical materials which is a slightly different method to how I would usually investigate. I think I probably tend to plan in my head or with a pencil. I am really thrilled with the samples below, although they look probably look rather dull, I think I can see enormous potential for development into a book to display my free-motion embroideries. I have been searching for a vehicle to display these for a very long time and would never have found this solution without this lateral thinking/doing.
I could have happily stopped chasing this degree at this point. I had found something I desperately wanted to pursue but had to continue sampling. Now having actually moved on and completed this and the following exercise that seems rather dramatic! There are always going to be new ideas, I can’t follow them all. I am in this for the long haul so what seems like a ‘must-do’ now, will probably lose its fascination over time.
I comforted myself by doing a few more samples to explore ‘pages’ for my ‘book’. I have included some photographs because I think the earlier research into Bridget Riley now finally becomes apparent:
The pearlescent card definitely isn’t the material I would use if I developed this further, I would like to use rings of felt or possibly a close weave fabric like a batik. Maybe, one day?