OCA Textiles 3: Sustaining My Practice- Response to Formative Tutor Feedback

Making Connections with my Informed Creative Development- Assignment 1

Morris (2021) Screenprinting Experimentation Series using Vintage Linen with Embroidery including Ladder Stitching

Action Points

PDF documents or uploads to your online learning log/website to give tutors, assessors, and potential professional bodies; direct access to information, your work and video presentations.

Given the ongoing difficulties with OCA Learn and access to my uploaded assignment exercises via OCA Learn I have uploaded everything on to my online learning log/blog from assignment one. Going forward I will continue to upload all my assignment work and related to https://weaveprint.com/  I will also continue to upload my same assignment work to OCA Learn to enable access for all. As noted my OCA learning log/blog has already been showcased on OCA Learn for all to access. In considering the range of digital formats required including video presentations and powerpoint presentations only my learning log/blog affords me the opportunity to perfectly replicate the content of my assignment work which has also been formally submitted through OCA Learn. I have also uploaded a representative sample of my sketchbook work for this new creative process onto https://weaveprint.com/ for tutors, assessors and professional bodies to directly access as required see https://weaveprint.com/2021/06/13/oca-textiles-3-sustaining-my-practice-experimental-artwork-for-a-new-creative-process/

Lizzy Levy stated previously that it was great to see the mark-making, continuous flow and expressive painting from my artwork to encapsulate the original sourcing ideas from neuro mapping. Now increased scale has been encompassed to expand upon these compositions to A1 and A0 sizes to extend the effects of a range of mark making including marking, flicks, splatters, and pouring paints.

Careful reasoning is required for using historical linen, ‘why’ is this important? What is your work saying? Lizzy Levy acknowledged that she liked the concept of longevity, strength and survival against the tests of time.

Initially I was unsure whether a full explanation was required within assignment one concerning the use of vintage linen. Anyway historically linen represented a sigificant part of my family history and cultural identity. Through extensive research I have traced back my family tree which includes generations of  home and mill workers from both the maternal and paternal sides of my family which specialised in linen manufacture throughout Fife including Newburgh and Dundee which was the the great centre of the linen trade. It was in 1787 that a patent was sought to spin flax, hemp, tow and wool whereupon mills were erected in Scotland for flax which included Kinghorn.  Laing (1872) spoke articulately “of primeval inhabitants manufacturing fabrics of hemp/linen”. During 1872 there were 550 hand-loom weavers in Newburgh of which most girls and women were weaving linen. Huge advances in linen  manufacture was seen as the quality increased. Through the eighteenth century and beyond with a shift from the spinning-wheel to the power looms the scale of production was increasingly centralised. It was recognised then that linen was an altogether superior fibre, as a nobel fabric with an enhanced quality as compared to other cloth.

The properties of linen include increased absorbency as linen can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture and dries quicker than cotton. Linen is renowned as an exceptionally hard wearing, strong, robust and resilient woven textile which sustains extended wear so has remarkable longevity which lends itself to mending and repair. Linen is the second strongest fabric after silk with related qualities of thermoregulation, comfort,  capacity to resist abrasion and of being antiallergic. As a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant linen is not only very strong but such qualities and properties suit what I am saying through my creative process…of its strength and its capacity to sustain crisis-rips and tears and to be repaired. Of using bedding, to exempfy and communicate warmth, comfort and protection within the narrative of mental distress, repair and recovery.

Moving forward, think about the elements you are striving to emulate or express via this body of work. How does imbedded history enrich your own story/narrative as an artist? For example Kira Dominguez Hultgren is able to articulate her motivation – in a similar way find your own voice identifying the factors that feed into your own practice.

Like Dominguez Hultgren stated  the material used represents some histories which have gone unheard, unseen, while other histories seemingly become the mainstream story to the detriment of others’ stories or experiencing. Within my own creative process there is a preference to piece together those histories which need to be heard but have yet to be make known. Through the imagery of print, the material meaning and stitch stories about living with mental distress, of transitioning towards recovery and repair… spaces, cracks, tears, all signify the possibility of what more there might be, of new bodies and minds with new architecture and scaffolding in place through stitch. So it is vital for me to carry my families history as  home and mill workers in the manufacture of linen with me within the cloth respectfully and mindfully through how I relate with the material through the creative processes. Every choice made and interaction realised through my relationship with the vintage linen cloth will be considered and reflected upon, to relate with the cloth in ways which best represent my own imbedded history including that of emotional distress, toil and hardship.

The artist explained the theoretical underpinnings which holds her textile work together. I could relate with this sense of re-storying narratives from my own families history from my use of vintage linen and from within the fields of adult mental health and the realms of psychiatry and psychology with past generations involvement. Of the need to highlight the therapeutic space…of individuals using the space to reconstruct their own narratives, who they are, to unlearn knowledge systems and to make known their own stories which have been unseen and unheard for many years. This space represents the embodied experience of the individual in therapy, of the capacity to express to give a tangible or visible form to feelings and thinking, of representing my own experiencing visually within this space. I liked this understanding of mis-storied and misaligned identities which are wrapped up within the warp and the weft, of the balance and tension between the materials to hold the narrative in place within the space, of reconstituting and altering the narrative through the therapy process which can then be visually represented through the layering of weave and print with the layering of experiencing and meaning. This idea of disruption, challenge, change, and re-imagining narratives sits well with therapy and what happens within such bodies within these spaces. This idea of completion is the antithesis of therapy as we are so often unfinished in process, of disrupting the warp and weft, of deliberately leaving weaving split, torn, and ripped with spaces unfilled to challenge the continuity of unhealthy narratives, assigned identities which continue to harm, label, abuse, dismiss, avoid, and discriminate.

Histories reveal the ways in which stitch has been used throughout the ages as part of the healing process, communication, protest and expression. As emphasised by my OCA tutor “From banners to quilts stitch & cloth have been used in often the most powerful ways using the thrown away such as grain sacking, etc. How do we genuinely/authentically adopt or carry the torch with our own narratives as artists?

Lizzy Levy noted that I expanded upon my relationship with my materials as Kira Dominguez-Hultgren’s relationship with her materials resonated personally: “As I heard this artist communicate her relationship with her materials and weaving, of the materials telling her what they need and where they need to go”… as I am led by and relate and respond intuitively with the material, the used, reused, repurposed, and found materials tell me what they need. I replicate this creative process, of a maker interacting with her materials, of the interactivity of the context which can be read through the textiles surface imagery, structure, and materials as mediums for communication. I therefore mediate meaning through the relationship with materials in creative process, of expressing embodied knowledge of context through the original weave, then print and stitch to give a tangible or visible form to an idea, quality, or feeling through and within the materials in use.

Moving forward I aim to increasingly use the creative process to make known my own emotional effects and responses to helping to heal others and of not always managing to do so, of the need to express myself to heal, to communicate the realities of mental distress and suicide, to challenge societal constructs including stigma and discrimination concerning mental health, of the harmful socio-economic and political arena that can cause illness and to showcase the natural need to access a range of services which offer the right kind of support for each individual to be enabled to heal.

Lizzy Levy noted the good start realised commencing this process through discussing: “I now wish to increasingly integrate hand stitching to the surface of dyed cloth however not to embellish for its own sake for decorative purposes in isolation but rather to illustrate different types of experiencing and different emotional states of distress and repair, from splitting and rupturing to mending, strengthening and recovery, to consolidate and increase resilience”. Now there is a greater need to increasingly make known where these experiences are drawn from.  As stated I continue to explore the story or narrative beneath the work and beneath my creative responses.

Similarly investigate the nature of stitch, purpose of stitch, as we have seen many textile artists have examined darning, as a method of mending both physically, metaphorically and emotion tears.

Lizzy Levy stated that my writing evidenced the fact that I am acknowledging the weight and power of using traditional techniques to imbrue historical/archival materials that potentially are loaded with memory: “I relate to the use of pulled and stretched threads to stress the cloth and to cause tension as well as to repair and to make more robust. On reflecting upon the textile work of Claire Wellesley Smith I increasingly think about the use of stitch as part of the narrative, of part of the story telling of another’s experiencing, of my own experiencing. The use of vintage cloth used every day has a story to be told, of a wealth of experiencing held within every fibre. I like the idea of using vintage linen bedsheets from the 1900’s, of something of everyday value and worth, of its survival based upon strength, of the layers of meaning built up through years of use, of the natural imperfections based upon use. Using traditional techniques, I can increasingly understand the relationships between craft, social history, and the natural environment and share the value in slow stories of making through repair and reuse. I can relate with the inter-relationships which are naturally created through the intuitive making processes using vintage cloth like linen to make stories more known”.

With natural uncertainty especially through the experience of a pandemic coupled with mental distress stitch can repair physically and emotionally with such a capacity to calm, soothe and be present, to heal and strengthen mental health and wellbeing…that creative practice within itself can be therapy. Through slowing down experiencing, being less introspective, more externalised, and only focusing on the immediate moment with stitch… sewing offers the perfect mindful pursuit to emotionally regulate. When there is such a focus on making, there is self-care and self-compassion given the respite from negative and critical thoughts in that moment. With increased moment to moment noticing through stitching there is increased acceptance and letting go. This concept of repair through mending continues to be investigated through a series of research processes. https://www.textileartist.org/the-healing-power-of-stitch/

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