I had a bit of a disappointing tutorial on Thursday that left me feeling a bit baffled and confused. I thought my work was progressing well and that I was beginning to explore some interesting ideas but I didn't really get any feedback. At the time I was a bit fed-up but with hindsight I realise I probably wasn't that well prepared for my tutorial. Perhaps I needed to be clearer about what I am doing, all the background research I have explored and where all my ideas came from. So I was going to grumble but in fact it has made me realise that I need to take stock and try to clarify my research question; if I can explain what I am doing, other people will be able to respond better to my work.
I'm going to ask John to ask me about my work so I have to come up with some answers.
J: What's it about?
H: It's about place, my relationship to certain places that I feel a connection with.
J: How can you produce a piece of work based on a place? I understand how you can go to a place and take a photo or draw a picture, but how can you create a textile from this?
H: I think what I want to do is research the places; find out about the history, spend time there; finding out what it it feels like to be there. From doing this I want to create lots of responses, a bit like sketching but using lots of different methods like collecting colours, making pinhole photographs, moving in the landscape and making marks. I also want to add background research to this. How this is all combined together I'm not sure yet, but I suppose it might all be curated rather like the different elements within a museum exhibition - articles of evidence.
J: Will your work reflect the place or your feeling about the place?
H: I suppose it will be a bit of both. All places are seen through the context of personal and cultural references, places cannot be independent of our responses to them.
J: Why are you using the textiles that you are? Is this influenced by the dye-stuffs you have started to use or something else?
H: I have begun to use quite a lot of textile lately, and using plant stuffs to create stains and marks. Some fabrics do seem to respond particularly well to these colours and the silk Habotai has a beautiful luminosity which corresponds to the light qualities I love in woodlands. However I have recently become interested in the local textiles industries around my chosen places, so worsted wool is something I have just started exploring because of it's connection to the Bradford area.
J: Your work seems to have changed direction recently, would you say it is your method or subject which has altered? Why have you taken this new approach?
H: I don't really think my subject has changed that much although I have definitely refined it. I started out looking at my emotional responses to 'quietude' and 'busyness' and relating these to urban and rural environments, but now I have defined some specific environments that I feel an emotional connection to and I am exploring in greater depth how I feel towards those places. I did some thinking about why I liked being in the beech woods around Bingley and realised it was because they reminded me of where I grew up. So I decided to investigate two woodlands; one near Bingley and one at 'home' in Bucks, not necessarily as a direct comparison. I suppose I really see this work as another starting point, something to research and investigate without worrying about what the result might be.
There are a variety of different processes I am using, some involving cloth and others that aren't, I don't think that is important at the moment. What I want to do is collect information and explore the process of research from a creative perspective. My work is crossing boundaries between industrial archeology, meditation, alchemy and play. It's fun and I think it's probably okay to do lots of different things for a while and then after a while see what you have. I think scientists collect information and then look for the patterns within their findings. I think I have always enjoyed research so these ways of working are intuitive and really exciting for me. I think by understanding more about the places I feel in tune with perhaps I will find out more about myself too.
J: Although scientists do use empirical evidence to look for patterns and answers they are usually attempting to answer a well defined question or hypothesis with a view to either proving or disproving that hypothesis. To me it seems that you are using research methodology, but what question are you trying to answer?
H: Thanks John, I think that's what I need to do next; devise a well-defined question upon which to base my research.