Returning to the start of Part 3, to begin the Selection Process, illustrated to me how far I have come in just ten weeks! As soon as I received my Part Two Feedback, I realised that I was on the wrong path, making the same mistakes of over planning outcomes and allowing my research to distract me:
Researching Botanical Illustration and making prints was interesting to me but was not focus of Part 3. Nor were Paolozzi’s collage and prints particularly relevant.
I also found myself planning outcomes before trialling materials. Luckily my feedback arrived and I was able to address this by incorporating Investigative Play into my process, in place of this controlling predetermination. I also tried to remind myself of the objectives of my research in order to stay focussed.
I actually feel almost embarrassed by the first samples that I made but it is important to show them to highlight how much progress I have made:
The tiles do celebrate my love of repetition and pattern but I have come to realise that there are other ways to do this in less contrived and more unexpected ways:
Working with a host of unfamiliar materials was exciting and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I think my methodical and logical (controlling) side was engaged by the process of measuring and mixing, which allowed my freer side to be more creative! I was able to try plaster, latex, silicone, thermoplastic, resin and expanding foam. I don’t regret leaving out papermache and concreate as I have worked extensively with these in the past.
As always, I appreciated finding a way to incorporate knitting although I felt some of the samples were too closely related to Rebecca Fairley’s work. This observation led me away from this investigation into the pursuit of super smooth surfaces more like Victoria Ferrand Scott.
I had to be especially careful at this point that my controlling side didn’t take over and try to make things too neat, finding Maarten de Ceulaer and introducing colour helped combat this.
Cari’s ‘Pointer for the next assignment’ to: continue to explore imperfection and irregularity, was also instrumental in this consideration. It made me more aware of how flaws can be used to the best advantage. As well as seeing this in my own work I tried to apply it when looking at the work of others, it really helped me to understand how Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures connect to their history.
I hadn’t forgotten the plaster/knit samples and still wanted to find a way to make the investigation more personal, which did not happen until my final sample; even though it is crochet rather than knit. What is different about this sample compared with my previous work is that it sort of evolved quite naturally and I had no idea what it was going to look like in advance. It progressed from a test to see if the expanding foam in the crochet sphere could be replaced with plaster. It builds on so many things I have learned: the choice of yarn, how to colour the plaster, not entirely unwrapping it, adding yarns and threads. Each one of these findings has been discovered through previous experimentation during MMT.
As I became more familiar with the materials I found I was able to play more freely. I had several sessions where curiosity drove the investigation and I made decisions intuitively. This was a big breakthrough for me but even more important has been the effect that working in Mixed Media has had on my drawing.
I love to draw… but I always forget how much, discovering it like something new and exciting every time. I am deeply grateful to Cari for encouraging me to draw more. It feels like the key to my enjoyment of MMT. I began to think about how my samples could influence my drawing rather than how I could use drawing to plan an outcome. As soon as I stopped regarding the samples as finished or refined but merely a stepping stone to the next drawing they ceased to be so important. I began to shake of the precious notions I had: breaking, painting over and sanding back. As soon as I stopped worrying about creating beautiful things, I found they just started to happen.
I am concluding Part 3 feeling a lot happier than I have throughout the whole of MMT!