Exercise 1 Body or Space
Gillian Morris Student No. 511388
From the completion of Textiles 3 Personal Specialism and Research I have managed to progress my creative practice to continue to increase the scale of my work, to utilise material preferences linked to relating and the environment and to obtain a visual aesthetic and reference point which relates to contextual relevance. The creative process was and continues to be seen as vital to my developing personal and professional knowledge and understanding of who I am as a textile artist and what I am trying to communicate through this process. How I think and reflect upon my work has continued to shift and change…to evolve as I have encapsulated new and varying influences through research and making. I am aware of the continuing need to push myself to take ever greater risks to be increasingly imaginative, experimental, and inventive through ongoing engagement and connection in research processes, creative practice, and to increasingly communicate how my work addresses related environmental themes. Through such research I have become increasingly aware of and use a wider range of materials and I am increasingly aware of their related value through their lived experience, so it feels important to reuse and repurpose to tell their stories through the making processes for ongoing environmental gain. I am particularly interested in creating and making for interiors including residential and public spaces, to communicate my environmental context through the creative processes and materials used.
While I have always been interested in the environment, I see this as something increasingly related to my own human encounter, of reviewing the therapeutic space and therapeutic relating within this space. As a psychologist working with crisis, I have become more interested in utilising and capitalising upon my professional clinical identity with that of my identity as a textile artist and me as a person, to communicate my own experiencing. From prior learning, experiencing, and understanding throughout the personal specialism and research processes I have come to realise a wider focus upon the environment and how it can transcend across nature whereby threat encompasses humans’ own struggles with self and our own survival within ourselves…from intrapersonal to and from interpersonal. Self to self-relating is so often hidden from sight given the prevalence of self to other and related experiencing but within the therapy space this unique environment and relating enables the self to be more clearly seen, heard, and responded to…to enable new pathways, connections, and journeys to be made, of new insights and realisations. As evidenced throughout the creative process within personal specialism I am consciously aware of the external environments in which I inhabit, however I plan to increasingly convey something of my own internal environments which invariably informs and defines much of my thinking. In doing so I plan to promote more of an intimate connection with process and materiality, of intuitively being in relationship with vintage materials I use, of reacting and responding to how the material reacts and responds within my creative processes. This need to remain present and responsive with an understanding of the materials own provenance is mirrored throughout my therapy work, of relating and responding with the material within the therapeutic relationship and therapy space…of a reciprocal process, of communicating understanding through relating and responding. I aim to be more analytical when sourcing vintage material to critically evaluate the material used with my practice and context.
The position within space relates to the body, of the mind-body connection, of exploring my identity alongside others through the mind, of breaking down the meaning of identity, of using the brain with its neuro-connections as an analogy, whereby journeys and pathways are made, and connections are realised. Of significance are the developmental, existential, and situational crises, of communicating this sense of identity and crisis and my own relationship to it alongside those of others. Of the differences between stressed and unstressed minds-bodies and the consequences, of the use of my artwork and imagery to symbolise this sense of crisis and recovery, of neuro-imagery or neuro-mapping as neuropathways to explore and communicate such human experiencing including my own ongoing struggles. Of working experientially to illustrate the unspoken, difficult to formulate to seek expression in one’s experience. To illustrate a visual roadmap out of crisis based upon growth and repair through connectedness, restructuring, and alternative relating.
Through such reflections I have been drawn to the work of Cos Ahmet and his use of the human body as a constant reference in his work. While Ahmet chooses to explore themes of self, sexuality, memory, identity, and the human form I wish to follow suit focusing upon human-to-human encounter, of the forging of new and revised identities, sense of self, relating to crisis and disrupted, disconnected, and disjointed journeys, pathways, and mapping, to highlight the experience of challenge and change to foster meaning, discovery and knowing.
Like my own textile art practice Cos Ahmet’s art combines woven tapestry, collage, printmaking, and stitch but he increasingly uses sculpture to foster three-dimensional formats. I wish to develop and expand my textile practice to encapsulate lager scale work as installations focused upon my print work for interiors, to create a range of scale within fully integrated layering processes. I find his tapestry collages to be inspiring, dynamic, and challenging which provokes and evokes… I aim to increasingly integrate print, weave and stitch from collage, drawing, painting, and sketching to create a series of textile pieces which reflect the environment of the therapy space, from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal space between the therapist and the client as well as the process of change from crisis to recovery. In Ahmet’s words ‘The constant thread in the works becomes my words, thoughts, a path of ideas’ as he always has something relevant to say through his work around the human body, of continuing related themes running through his work. The core of his work is therefore centred upon his use of metaphor and symbolism. For Cos Ahmet recurring themes of self, identity, sexuality, and memory, are emotive features in much of his work, displayed as a complex set of body dialogues. Shaped by his use of metaphors, the body becomes symbolised through various interlinks – points of juncture, where body and material respond or react with each other. These come to light in the diverse processes and characteristics of his practice, that range from woven tapestry, works on paper (collage, printmaking, drawing), to sculpture (installation and object making), as he makes loose connections with their attributes to represent parts of the human form. https://www.textilecurator.com/
Cos Ahmet noted “I use metaphor with my woven works to represent the human form, how it looks and feels through the weaving process: ‘thread’ becomes the thought. ‘warp’ is the skeleton’, ‘weft’ is the flesh or skin, and the ‘weave’ stands for the body or the soul.” He makes comparisons with this narrative and connects it to not only the process of weaving, but with the other processes within his practice. ‘These ‘gestures’ take on their own symbolism and appearance, but are implicit presences, traces or imprints of identity and self.’ http://www.feelingstitchy.com/
Another contemporary artist whose use of space has deeply influenced this new creative process is Sheila Hicks, textile artist & anthropologist who captures environments through the medium of textiles. She works primarily in fibre, weaving vibrant and dynamic sculptures and wall hangings and creates objects and installations, which are about living a life centred around meaning and making. I was and continue to be inspired by how the artist inhabits a space through her creative work, of her use of materials, colour, and process, of developing stories within her innovative and contemporary use of tapestry weaving, of changing the relationship with tapestry weaving as she developed intriguing environmental narratives about people, places, things. This artist continually uses her interactions with the environment, the spaces she inhabits to fuel and feed her creative process and her use of materials. Her innovative use of weaving within large scale installations have been influential in my own relationship with my work and of progressively increasing the scale in which I work, of being more expressive and experimental with my use of self, the environment including print and the materials used for weaving, to create new forms of weave, of warp and weft within the print or as part of the print to create increasingly different interpretations of integrated weave, stitch and print with shared contextual meaning.
More recently much of Hicks’s work is large scale and inhabiting space in defined ways. May I Have This Dance from 2002 was commissioned by Target Corporation for its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. When the space was reconfigured in 2010, it was dismantled and reinstalled at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. As Hicks stated, “It is what I call “transcendent sculpture,” which means it can be adjusted for spaces of different sizes and completely rearranged. It is strongly structured, but it is anti-structure in that it has infinite shapes and sizes. Textile is one of the few materials in art that is consumed by the object’s form or narrative. It is materiality and manufacture — threads, warp, weft — are always there.” I am influenced by this artist’s use of space, narrative, and context, of her use of self and her own experiencing within and throughout all her textile work and creative processes.
Therefore, a central tenet to Hicks’ work is memory, self, and space. “Memory is a powerful tool that helps internalize the sense of an artwork; the profundity, meaning, idea, significance; that which we think is the essence, or aura, of a piece of art. And of course, memory is linked intimately with the self. Hicks works not only with material that she gathers from her travels, but also from what she can gather from people close to her — her friends and family. All of her works are therefore ‘pockets of memory’: the use of fabric and textile, wrapped and twisted to form shapes, things, and ideas, turns tangible things into a pocket for an abstraction like memory.”
In “Scattered Memories”, a more recent piece (2017-18), a wall is covered with balls of cloth, fabric, and things that Hicks has gathered. Although it looks like a wallpaper in 3D, on closer examination each form reveals itself as motifs of memories, which represent moments in time, of the unveiling of the artists identity as a series of memories-visually and emotionally complex objects in themselves, created by Hicks in a moment of synthesis. The raw facts of synthesis — the threads uniting different pieces of memory, the objects that represent memory themselves. Underneath “Scattered Memories”, a glass vitrine displays various diaries, notebooks, and other memorabilia that have belonged to Hicks over the years to best illustrate her use of self within a lifetime of memories within a designated space. Through such research processes I have become increasingly mindful and aware of the use of space within my own environmental context. I can relate with how my own experiencing can connect with space and body on both an interpersonal and intrapersonal way. I am increasingly seeing my creative process and textile work from different perspectives to help me to start to evaluate new options and possibilities using installation through mixed media approaches including weave, stitch, and print.
Within print I continue to be influenced by Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, textile artist given her more abstracted print work which examines the concepts of intersections, junctions, and boundaries, all of which are relevant to my own context and therapeutic environment. The melding, overlapping, and mapping of thoughts relate to connections realised in therapy with the development of new scripts for understanding self and other. This textile artist focuses on the figurative and abstract within a site-specific series of screen printing. I am influenced by this idea of interweaving, of building up layers of print through relating and time, of the overlapping of meaning and understanding through the layering processes.
Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor acknowledged the use of natural fabrics including linen and wool within her screen-printing processes to illustrate how she sees and experiences the space immediately around her (2019). This sense of constant interaction within a designated space and how this influences her creative process, narrative, and relating with self has helped me to analyse and reflect upon my own work and through such a context to develop my own perspectives involving print, stitch, and weave.
More recently I have got to know Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, Textile Artist through my use of the WASPS’ artists’ studio complex in Glasgow. After a series of discussions through Zoom and face to face contact at the WASPS’ factory Joanna has agreed to help mentor me through this creative process, to enable greater collaboration and networking within the artist community, to connect with others and to become more known. I have been able to discuss Joanna’s screen-printing processes with her and she has shared invaluable knowledge, understanding, and experiencing of her creative processes with me. She has been extremely kind with her time, encouragement and support especially concerning exhibition space and planning within WASPS’ and ongoing conversations are planned at frequent intervals to aid my depth of reflection going forward given my increased exposure to new ideas and new ways of looking at my own work in response to a range of new influences. I have also noted an increased interest in my online blog and learning log alongside my Instagram feed and Artist Facebook page. I continue to follow up with a range of research processes including OCA Textile Artist Presentations and online Textile Talks through my Surface Design Association membership whereby direct communication is possible with the textile artists during each presentation.