Part 5; Self Assessment


Throughout Part Five I sought a less refined aesthetic, inspired both by my recent research into Sloppy Craft and my continued pursuit of irregularity and imperfection. My Final Piece represents what I have learned about the importance of incorporating experimentation and play into my process. The implications of this are that I had less control over the outcome. I used to think this was a weakness: a failure to dictate exactly what would happen meant a lack of skill but MMT has changed my mind.


It was easier to put aside my preconceptions about finished work being time consuming and constructed ‘properly’ in theory. In practise it was more difficult, I found making the series of canvases that could act as a final piece if things went wrong acted as an emotional buffer between me and the real task ahead. I did this extra step because I still find it difficult to commit to spontaneity; to trust one’s intuition requires courage. I fear someone will look over my shoulder and ask “I wonder why she’s not doing it properly?” Now I realise the person asking is me! When I am in less control of the materials and processes there is also a greater chance I will reveal something more raw and primal. I think being willing to expose something deeper has led to a more powerful and dynamic result.


The printed colour appears quite wild and aggressive but I have tried to use my knowledge of design and composition to provide overall coherence. Repetition and pattern have been used to provide rhythms that seek to hold attention; their presence is what I believe makes the work uniquely my own.


I sent my sketchbooks and a small selection of samples to my tutor, unfortunately the Final Piece is still hanging in my kitchen. I had hoped it would fold in the manner of a concertina sketchbook but construction difficulties led to a change of plan. I was able to conceptually justify this by proposing the comfort offered by the ‘blanket’ be replaced by the protection of a ‘shield’, however, I am still disappointed that Cari won’t see the work in person. The main reason for my disappointment is that I know I took a risk returning to a familiar format. It is really important that this final piece is seen as more than a quilt. The choice of materials and the method of construction are not typical of a well made quilt specimen, the format was used only as a vehicle for the communication of an idea.



In some ways the final piece seems a huge leap from what I proposed in the beginning, hopefully my sketchbooks and blog explain how I reached my conclusion. To begin with I was concerned about the relationship between 2-D and 3-D in printmaking, wondering how I could use folding to manipulate printed pattern. I did a range of samples using pleating, origami and nets but I was really only considering the Formalist properties of the work, thinking about pattern in design terms.


I think the real turning point was when I considered my plaster cubes, I started to question why I made them: the answer “because I could” not longer felt satisfactory. I thought what Rachel Whiteread’s sculpture means beyond it’s physical presence. A thread on the OCA Forum provided clarity: I learned Personal Voice goes beyond formal qualities, it is about what you want to make and why.

I had been experimenting with folding techniques using pages torn from a book. I began to rekindle my love of literature through Virginia Woolf. I thought about my day job, where I teach language and communication skills to young children. -All of these ideas amalgamated and became the concept for a final piece than held meaning beyond formalist principles. Given that the work had meaning I felt my use of a less refined aesthetic was justified.


Really, the entire project was driven by ‘Sloppy Craft’. Having been a perfectionist and a control freak for most of my life, I really struggled to understand why a maker would chose to make something ‘badly’, particularly when their prior work shows they are capable of doing things ‘properly’. I spent quite a lot of time re-evaluating what I believe gives art value; I came to the conclusion that often much of the work is done before the final piece is even started. If the idea is solid and the materials and processes are understood, the final piece need not look like it took forever to make. For Example: Thomas Trum’s paintings look like they were knocked up in an afternoon, however they require much thought and preparation, on top of a lifetime spent as a house decorator.

An unkempt appearance can be dynamically visual, I found myself looking at painters who inspire me, particularly the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists. I could apply the principles of Sloppy to these without any problem, it is only when the word is associated with Craft things become more slippery. I tend to think of Craft as being masterful and refined, I worry that it’s traditions (which are often closely related to culture and heritage) will be weakened by this trend. Art has always pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable so perhaps this is an attempt to close the divide between Craft and Art?

I hope that a combination of my research (both in sketchbook and on my blog), my sampling and the final piece reflects my exploration of Sloppy. Although I chose to work with an ancient craft, I think the result is contemporary. I am happy that I upheld my Formalist values while at the same time tried to introduce a Conceptual twist. Do I consider it Sloppy Craft or is it Art? Is this distinction important? What is important now, moving forward, is my acceptance of imperfection and willingness to play.


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