OCA Textiles 3 Sustaining My Practice- Part 2-Making Connections

Assignment 2-Exercise 1 Personal Case Study

Gillian Morris Student No. 511388

Morris (2021) Damaged Repair-A4 White Recycled Paper Twisted, Torn and Ripped with Multiple Layers of Ink Jet Print and Vintage Red Linen Threads

What is your practice? What are the key drivers for your work and how do you keep your creative practice on track?

I am a textile artist whose practice is increasingly embedded within mixed media as well as being led by environmentally sound processes and what is right for each specific work or project and the related context and narrative. That said I enjoy all forms of larger scale print work on a range of different reclaimed and repurposed materials including paper, card, cardboard, MDF and a range of textiles especially natural vintage linens for screen printing. Mixed recycled materials are used for other forms of print including ink jet printing and heat transfer printing. I like to experiment with materials, tools and technique through hand printmaking methods including relief printmaking, woodcut, intaglio, engraving, dry point and collagraphs for preparatory work and sampling processes. I work intuitively in process, so I am ultimately led by my relating with the materials I use.  I am always thinking about and developing a range of ideas which I record with accompanying notes and sketches, so I always have lots of ideas to call upon for my creative practice which keeps me motivated to make. I am inevitably thinking about creating most of the time, so I am always receptive to the creation of ideas as I try to leave myself open to whatever presents itself. I continue to be informed by environmental sustainability and the reduction of waste. While I use different forms of tapestry weaving and weaving, I am now using stitch more.

When you are developing new work, are you mainly the catalyst or do you work in

connection or collaboration with others? Do you ever work in connection or collaboration with others?

I have a mixed range of experiencing as I often work alone at home and undertake larger scale screen printing work alongside other artists within a supportive community. In considering this I generally develop my work from a series of ideas which stem from several different sources. My thinking is constantly embedded within textiles, so I am continually reading about textiles and following other artists face to face or online through a range of social media sites including Facebook and Instagram. I have many friends who are creative which aids and fuels numerous related discussions about creative work. I use the Wasps artists’ studios in Glasgow, so I have many opportunities to see and talk to other artists when there undertaking larger scale screen printing. It can therefore be inspiring to see others’ studios and creative work. I like to share my ideas and processes to help generate constructive feedback which I can use to improve my creative work.

How has your BA Textiles grounding fed the work you do now? Are there still links back to the work you did then, or has your work altered since then for other reasons? How?

I am currently completing the last stage of my BA (hons) degree in textiles with the OCA which has helped to challenge my thinking and move my creative practice on. From the outset of the degree programme my textile work and creative practice has changed considerably. My understanding of what can constitute textiles has opened-up enormously affording me the opportunity to widen my creative practice, to be bolder, more courageous in what I do. Given this creative freedom I now work in larger scale with an increased range of materials and technique with enhanced relating to the materials I work with and their qualities. I continue to use print in its many forms but in a more freed up and less predetermined way alongside weave and/or stitch. I have learned so much from undertaking a university-based education in textiles which has helped me to commit to continuing development as a textile artist within my own practice, to undertake post graduate studies as appropriate to ensure ongoing commitment to this goal.

After you have graduated with your BA, what do you think your priorities will be concerning your textile practice at that time? What do you anticipate for the future?

As stated, I hope to continue to study at post graduate level to complete a masters in textiles from 2022 onwards, to further aid the development of my creative skills and professional practice. I aim to continue to develop an in-depth exploration of materials, techniques and processes involving experimentation with a range of textile art and design techniques and industry production methods and to undertake advanced textiles printing and dyeing workshops. I hope to engage in industry projects which increasingly offer me the opportunity to contextualise my practice within a wider arena. I wish to be increasingly challenged to create beyond what I already know, to explore constantly evolving materials, technologies, and processes. I hope to be sufficiently able to set up my own creative practice to generate successful business outcomes through capitalising upon different ways to exhibit my work to be known, to join professional textile artist groups, galleries and organisations, to disseminate information concerning my practice through exhibition, website and competition work, to showcase my work within a range of markets, disciplines and applications, to optimise all possible opportunities to present, reflect, refine and progress my work. I aim to develop my studio space beyond the home environment as and when able to do so to be part of an artist’s community within a shared complex of artists’ studios like Wasps to take advantage of what is on offer in terms of access to opportunities, networking options, sourcing materials, and engagement within shared events.

What have been the biggest successes achieved through your own self-promotion of your work and your own proactive approach?

I have regularly managed to sell my work through exhibition within the British Tapestry Group timetable of exhibitions and artists pages online through their website. I have also sold work to friends and family as there is continuing interest in my creative practice. Many of my print work samples have elicited interest but I have kept many of my prints for future reference until I can further develop my creative practice. My priority is to develop my own website and to improve access to my Facebook page and Instagram account to increasingly self-promote my work. I increasingly recognise the importance of social media in promoting my work and getting it seen and responded to especially as more people have seen my online blog and left positive comments and queries as well as sharing my work with others and recommending me and the blog to others.   

What have been the biggest challenges of self-promotion?

While I am pleased that I have an online presence given its overall relevance to getting me and my work including context and narrative known I have yet to fully develop this part of my creative practice and to capitalise upon the opportunities that this can afford me. As I am still working full-time within the NHS, I am time poor, so I am still finding ways to amalgamate and integrate this into my everyday life to fully self-promote my own work.  I have needed to focus more upon my creative process up until now, so such an assignment focus has helped me to increasingly address self-promotion. It is hoped that I can find an increased work-life balance soon whereupon I can assign more time to the development of my creative practice as a business. I continue to recognise the work, effort and motivation required to be out there, of the ongoing need to engage and network.

What platforms or ways have been most helpful to promote your work?

The development of positive creative networks has been designated as a priority for my creative practice going forward. For me, the professional art groups like the 62 Group of Textile Artists, Edge, with organisations and galleries like the Crafts Council, Contemporary Applied Arts, Design Nation, and related local galleries and shows like the Fotheringham and Green Galleries will be focused upon to enable engagement within regular exhibitions alongside the use of online platforms like Facebook and Instagram with the development of a website.

What are the most unexpected things to have occurred in your work or practice and why were they unexpected?

I have been surprised at the scale of positive comments that I have received from my online blog and the scale of sharing that has been achieved regarding this blog. Initially I had not anticipated such a following given the scale of textile art that is already out there as it is an increasingly well established and exceptionally large arena within art, there is much to see and admire online and face to face. I was unsure whether my own work met the same standards however after such feedback including feedback from my OCA tutor, I am increasingly confident that my work is gallery ready.  

What would your main recommendations be to others studying textiles with aspirations to set up their own creative practice?

I think engagement and building networks are priorities and should start as soon as possible to aid continuing development as a textile artist. Every opportunity to engage should be embraced as I understand and recognise the benefits which are realised from doing so. From within the Wasps artists’ studios in Glasgow I have been supported, encouraged, and offered feedback on my work from other practising artists who have already set up and successfully run their own studios. So much learning has already been gleaned from such interaction, connection, and continuing engagement which helps to inform my ongoing creative practice.

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