A2; Response to Tutor Feedback

My recent Tutor Feedback can be viewed here.


Cari has identified lots of positives from my response to Part 2, I was particularly pleased that she felt the work was ‘investigative and questioning’ and could see that I generated ‘some more really interesting ideas’.


She has acknowledged my efforts to include more drawing and reduce the number of diary-like entries in my sketchbook. This now forces my attention to my blog, which:

‘At times, the learning log can be diary-like, focussing more on what you did rather than why or whether it was successful’


I really struggle with the blog, I find it the hardest part of the course. I need to change the way that I use it and find a way to make it work for me. At the moment, I still view it as a loathsome necessity, merely a hoop to jump through. I often leave the entries until the practical work is completed, this contributes to the ‘diary-like’ feel because I am recounting what I did, instead of puzzling what I should do next.

Having concentrated on improving my sketchbook in Part 2, I intend to now turn my attention to my blog. I want to fully incorporate it in my practise so that it becomes a useful tool, that works for me.


It seems some of my samples were well met, particularly the more experimental, less well refined ones. I predicted that ‘Washing Machine Spoon’ would be deemed successful, having taken less that five minutes to create. My ‘patchwork and quilting’ samples that took far longer were not so well received ‘a little too easy, perhaps too practised or comfortable’.

I am coming to terms with this. It is difficult, it feels like it is challenging me at my core. I need to lose my ‘neat’.  ‘Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity’ –suggests I am beginning to do this. I want to do it but I feel a resistance- like I am going to lose who I am, in a bid to be what tutors/assessors want.

One of Cari’s pointers for the next assignment is: ‘Emphasise experimentation over refinement’. I may have to make this my mantra!


I completely agree with Cari about the relevance (or rather irrelevance) of the Contemporary practitioners I used in my study. Looking back, my response to Ptolemy Mann was hugely inappropriate to the brief. My focus shifted from Joining to Colour and Pattern. I think there is probably quite a fine line between a lateral personal response and going off at a tangent!

The comment…

‘Critically consider how your research informs the work in a relevant way. Focus on artists who use appropriate materials and processes to help inform your investigation’.

…really hit home. I began working on Part 3, pending this feedback and I can now see I have made exactly the same mistake again!

I set off with really good intentions of allowing the materials to guide me. Yet in my sketchbook I can already see my attention wandering: focussing on Rachel Dein’s use of composition rather than the material qualities of plaster and clay.

Just before I received  the feedback I caught myself planning an intricate Paolozzi style cast of objects. I’m really glad the hot weather intervened and broke the clay tile because I was about to pursue a considered outcome with a material I knew very little about (latex).

‘Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials’.

I need to go back and look at the Envisions Group again. I found their approach of exhibiting ‘everything but the end product’ helped me to understand this way of working.

Right now, I am at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed. I almost want to destroy what I have done so far and start again (not the OCA way). At least my mistakes should serve to demonstrate that I am willing to take on board tutor advice and to learn from it.

A2; Tutor Feedback

Once again, I feel that my tutor has ‘hit the nail on the head’ with my feedback. I wasn’t surprised by what I read, I sort of had a sense of what was working and what wasn’t, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Cari has been able to identify exactly what the issue is and steer me back on the right track.

Tutor name: Cari Morton 
Date:  30th May 2017

Overall Comments:

Another well-developed submission, Nicki. Overall, the work felt investigative and questioning. Some more really interesting ideas have emerged through this projects. The ‘wrap/unwrap’ idea, in particular, could be really interesting to explore in part 5.

Assignment Feedback:  Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis, Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity: 

You’ve developed a good body of samples in response to the exercises. It’s great to see you react to your ATV feedback by exploring scale to a greater degree. The washing machine pipe completely envelops the spoon, changing its role within the structure and creating a form completely different to your other samples. It was good to see you trying to work more quickly to develop less refined, more experimental samples like this. Keep working in this way in future projects, putting the emphasis on playful investigation over refinement. Well done, too, for leaving unresolved ideas within the blog and sketchbook, ignoring the urge to resolve everything prior to presenting it to tutors/assessors.

You question in your reflective writing whether your samples are ‘mixed media’ enough. You’ve used a range of unusual materials (e.g. washing machine tube, strimmer cord, etc) but there are times when more traditional approaches have resulted in less experimental samples. Your use of patchwork and quilting felt a little too easy,
perhaps too practised or comfortable, at times. You return to it a lot, perhaps at the expense of more experimental methods.

You’ve made good use of found materials to create interesting forms and patterns. Rather than “is this mixed media enough?”, perhaps the question could be “have I transformed the materials?”. The hooks and keyrings were unified by a lively repeat pattern; the slices of plastic tube knotted together with loose red and green threads, again became part of a new cohesive structure.  These samples transformed the materials into something new and novel. Your use of hot glue, which can be very hard to use in a sophisticated manner, was also interesting. The foiling completely changed its visual impact: it highlighted the irregular form of the glue in a way that made it a relevant part of the design (rather than a bodged joining method, as it so often looks).

Whilst the contextual research clearly informed your work, sometimes it seemed to draw you away from the key focus of the exercises. I loved your passionate response to Ptolemy Mann, resulting in the development of the striped organza piece but this focussed more on the coloured pattern than the nature of the join, which took time away from experimenting with other methods. You discuss in your log a desire to “stop diversifying and ‘go deep’“. Remember to balance this desire against the focus of the L1 courses on exploring new materials and processes, and challenging yourself in new ways. You highlight this urge to resolve and refine yourself, and it was great that you found Rebecca Fairley’s ‘A Question of Development’ post helpful in exploring when to stop and move onto the next idea.

Sketchbooks:  Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity: 

You’ve developed a good body of drawing and used it well to both plan for and document your samples.

Far fewer ‘diary-like’ entries than before. Keep working on this to minimise the number of paragraphs, so you rely more on succinct notes and visuals to communicate and evaluate your ideas.

It’s great that you regularly evaluate your approach to your sketchbook in your reflective writing. It was good to read you considering the role of space in the sketchbook and how it allows more ‘silence’ within which the drawings can be heard. Not all drawings need this kind of space, for example quick developmental drawings make sense as part of a cluster, jostling for space with notes, as your ideas unfurl. More refined drawings do perhaps need more room to breathe. Consider the role of the drawing and whether it needs space to communicate clearly.

Learning Logs or Blogs:  Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis: 

At times the learning log is can be diary-like, focussing more on what you did rather than why or whether it was successful. Try to emphasise the evaluative over the discursive. Also consider the quantity that assessors will have to read through at assessment.

You’ve posited on the blog that your learning log might need revising. Consider the question I asked in part 1 feedback: what is the role of the learning log in vs. the sketchbook? Now you’ve refined the sketchbook, how does this change the role of the learning log?

In terms of context, you’ve looked at quite a lot of practitioners, Scott and Gomes particularly relevant to the focus of this part of the MMT course. Some others may have prompted you to stray away from that focus, e.g. Delauney and Mann took you towards pattern, shape and colour. They seemed to inspire ideas somewhat tangential to the exercises. You realised this issue with your Mann-inspired organza quilting, so you incorporated the sponge underneath. Mann’s use of colour within structures could have been used to inform more targeted use of colour within your wrapped samples, for example, rather than a flat pattern. Critically consider how your research informs the work in a relevant way. Focus on artists who use appropriate materials and processes to help inform your investigation. Discuss their work more formally on the log, considering how they use materials and techniques, as well as the ideas that underpin the work. These entries can be more academic in tone and will prepare you for the essay in the next level 1 course.

Suggested reading/viewing:  Context: 

I recommend Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth as a way of encouraging you to think laterally, to approach an idea from an alternative direction.
Pointers for the next assignment:

  • Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.
  • Explore the broadest potential of the materials and processes you’re exploring – be experimental with structure, scale, shape and volume, as well as pattern, texture, colour and decorative elements.
  • Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity.
  • Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials.
  • Emphasise experimentation over refinement.


I will reflect on this feedback in my next post here.

A1; Response to Tutor Feedback

In my last post I shared my tutor feedback from Part One. As I explained I am really happy that Cari was able to identify one of the main causes of my frustration: sketchbook versus learning log/blog.

I had already identified that things were not working, I knew something didn’t feel right. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it… I had narrowed the problem to my ‘sketchbook’ and was glad of the opportunity to discuss this with fellow course-mate Inger (thank you!). We decided together that working on loose pages is difficult for those who like to organise. I felt size was an issue, having gone from A3 to A4. As Inger rightly says working at A4 gives her a double page spread of A3, this means I am used to working at A2 (albeit cut in half by the spiral binding). You just don’t get that amount of space in a loose leaf binder.

Cari and I also discussed the temptation of treating the A4 binder “more like a documentation report than a sketchbook.”  Her comment that: “It also provides the temptation to re-work, re-do and re-organise the document, which means it could be over-controlled and over-thought rather than an organic exploration of your ideas”, was so succinct and accurate that I could have wept with joy! That is exactly what had happened!

As far as content of the ‘sketchbook’, I hadn’t noticed how many ‘diary’ type entries I was writing. The tone of my writing also seems to have changed, it reads as if I am talking to an external reader rather than making notes to myself. These  things will be easy to rectify now that I am aware of it.

As Cari rightly pointed out: “By reducing the duplication of information between the sketchbook and blog and writing less in the sketchbook, you should end up with more time to draw and develop new samples”. I look forward to using this ‘extra’ time to revive my sketchbook process and concentrate on my drawing- the things I actually enjoy doing.

Regarding sampling, I was pleased to see Cari recognised the variety and experimental nature of the work I produced. I am concerned that she says: “The three dimensional, spatial samples were the ones which excited me most” since these are the ones I find hardest to create. I am becoming increasingly aware of how flat and two-dimensional my work is. This will be an area in which I can really challenge myself and push the boundaries of my comfort zone a little further.

A1; Tutor Feedback

I am thrilled with my first formative feedback from my tutor, Cari Morton, mostly as she has clearly identified what seemed to have caused much of my despondency and disappointment at the end of Part One. I seem to have been duplicating a lot of the analysis of my work, addressing it in my ‘sketchbook’ and then again on my blog. This has been both time consuming and frustrating. I will discuss this further in my next post: Responses to Tutor Feedback.

Here it is:

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis, Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity 

“You’ve developed a really thorough, logical and interesting body of work, which demonstrates both your visual and practical abilities but also your critical thinking and strong writing skills. I really enjoyed your responses to each exercise, both visually and your evaluative analysis of the success and future potential of the samples.

Your sampling is varied and experimental, and you’ve documented the samples really well through photography. The three-dimensional, spatial samples were the ones which excited me most. The samples are really well analysed and evaluated: you critique the aesthetic and process, as well as posing interesting questions. You use drawing effectively to map out new ideas as well as documenting your samples. It would be great to see more drawing, possibly multiple responses to some samples to capture different aspects of one piece. For example, in your discussion of your drawing of the pleated tracing paper trimmings (sample 1.4.5), you state that you’re disappointed by the loss of the three-dimensional quality of the sample but that there was a pleasing simplicity to the resulting drawing, which holds potential for development using print processes. I agree with both of these points but I also wanted you to have tried to capture the three-dimensionality of that sample in a new drawing.

You’ve extracted some really interesting themes and ideas from the journey of the project, which could be explored further in future projects. For example, the gradations of shade ideas- how to unfold a shadow- could result is a really exciting body of work. Your discussion of this idea in relation to the ‘regularity and stillness’ of Agnes Martin’s work made your ideas much more tangible –  continue to discuss your work and that of others using such evocative language.

Similarly, the pleated text sample (1.4.11) could lead into a really interesting project using pleating and similar methods to distort, deform, contort visual information, just as the pleating has rendered the text nearly illegible. The pleated colour idea (1.4.12) holds similar potential – have a look at Ptolemy Mann’s architectural and spatial works in relation to this.

Your contextual research is consistently well integrated with your sampling, with a critical discussion of the nature of that work and its relationship to your work. It was also great to see you applying your colour theory knowledge and technical terminology in your discussion of samples 2.4.1 a & b.

This is a really solid start to the course. I’d love to see more drawing emerging during Part 2 and I would also like you to consider the different roles of the sketchbook and online learning log/blog, which I discuss in more detail below”.

Sketchbooks vs. Learning Logs

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity / Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis


“Your sketchbook in the lever arch file is a really thorough journey of the project but it is predominantly written rather than visual, more like a log in some respects. Your log is similarly thorough and detailed but there were times that I felt the two documents were playing the same role, with some log entries being very similar to what I’d read in the sketchbook. How do you feel the two documents differ? What different roles do they play in the development of your work? Consider this in Part 2 and try to differentiate their roles to a greater extent.

It would be good to see the visuals (your drawings, samples and photos) predominating over writing in the sketchbook, supported by written annotations. Perhaps the fuller, long-form discussion could continue on the blog, with more succinct, possibly note-form annotations in the sketchbook. There is a lot of really valuable questioning and analysis in the sketchbook writing, which I don’t want you to lose, but it would be good for the visuals to be the dominant element of the sketchbook.

Part of the answer may lie in developing more drawing -rather than one or two responses to a sample, consider drawing it in a few different ways, focusing on a different characteristic/angle/element in each visualisation”.


Cari went on to discuss what worked in my sketchbooks, providing photographic evidence to explain what she meant. I very much appreciate this input. She concluded:

“By reducing the duplication of information between the sketchbook and blog and writing less in the sketchbook, you should end up with more time to draw and develop new samples”.

I certainly hope this is true!