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

Part 2- Making Connections- Assignment 2

The GENERATION exhibitions featured artists whose careers have grown from Scotland during that period, a time that saw dramatic changes in our cultural lives and unprecedented interest in and acclaim for our artists. Whether they were Scottish by birth, education or one of the many artists who came to study and chosen to remain, they helped to create the vibrant, buoyant and internationally recognised contemporary art scene that exists in Scotland today. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/features/generation-25-years-contemporary-art-scotland

Action Points

Certainly, using the print studio space has strengthened relationships with other creatives and those within the profession. I encourage you to continue strengthening these links, building a strong place for yourself within this field. Embrace working alongside others, embarking on symposiums, workshops, or exhibition sites, continuing to build upon the solid foundations already in place.

I am continuing to strengthen relationships with other artists through my engagement with Wasps as an artist undertaking larger-scale screen printing processes within their studio space and through my involvement with several of their events including the summer markets, open studios, and exhibitions. I continue to enjoy using the studio space at Hanson Street as it is purpose built for screen printing. Through regularly using the exhibition space at Hanson Street on an informal basis I have got to know the other artists within the complex. My print work has been regularly laid out on the floor space and hung up on the walls to help me to review the creative work in process and to glean feedback from others.

Great to see intuitive working highlighted – however, I would challenge you to include this earlier within the artist’s statements. I feel that this research via making is definitely where your work is strongest, becoming more and more in-tune with gestural forces as well as the materiality and links, etc.

I continue to review and refine my artists statement to fully encapsulate what I have achieved to date and what I am continuing to achieve, to increasingly focus upon my intuitive relating with materials, of the importance of materiality to my creative process and work.

Artist Statement-Gillian Morris

Making textiles through print, weave and stitch represents much of my creative practice and creative life. I work intuitively with the materials in use to ensure respect for the cloth and the environment, to establish a form of reciprocal relating in action as I create. Given my studio practice is embedded within environmentally supportive ways of making and creating I intuitively react and respond to how the material relates to and with me through the print, weave, and stitch processes to ensure their qualities are best promoted. I prefer to use reclaimed, repurposed, reused, recycled, and found materials, to promote environmental sustainability with no waste including natural fibres, fabrics, and threads which includes wool, paper, cardboard, MDF, rope, string, cord, cable, and wire. Vintage linen represents one of my favourite materials and threads given its proven sustainability, strength, resilience and capacity for repair and recovery. My family have long had a strong affinity with linen as home and mill workers, so provenance is important to me, of knowing the place of origin or earliest known history of something that I am working with.

As a psychologist and a textile artist I am interested in relating and relationships within material use and throughout my professional work. Given the complexity of human relating I continue to investigate and reflect upon my own emotional reactions in creative process to evoke emotional responses in others when viewing my work.  I like to explore the many effects of layering through print using a range of printmaking techniques and strategies especially screen printing but also ink jet printing, heat transfer printing and relief printmaking, woodcut, linocut, and collagraphs. I visually represent relationships within an abstracted contemporary format involving emotional resonance. I work in a larger scale which stems from my own original mixed media artwork including sketching, drawing, and painting with hand printmaking alongside extensive sampling processes to create unique mark making for screen printing and/or stitch/weave. From the initial inspiration through researching my thoughts, findings, and ideas alongside my artwork I continue to be open to how I relate with materials as this can affect creative outcomes.

Yes! Definitely very important to consider how your work will be maintained, cared for – weathering or handling could for example be part of the work – allowing the textile to morph, change and develop – using this as an opportunity to explore the impact of outside elements? Or you control all the outcomes which has equal validity! Good examples shown of works installed of hung, Esther Bornemisza uses excellent: space, lighting and hanging techniques.

I have undertaken considerable research regarding exhibiting textiles including how to present, display, and hang my work as a textile artist which admittedly can be challenging given the larger scale of my vintage linen bedsheets and their overall weight. See weaveprint.com While I have recognised the variety of formats for different scales of work and media, of the need to deliberate and decide which one works best for me and my print and stitched pieces I have increasingly focused upon an indoors exhibition space with open ceilings to aid lighting and hanging techniques. One of my research guides included Connected Cloth: Creating Collaborative Textile Projects by Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly as they explored and documented a range of options within the section ‘Connections and Collaborations’ which has aided my reflections concerning hanging cloth for the exhibition. I plan to allow the printed and stitched material pieces which visually represents recovery and repair to hang centrally from the ceiling, to morph, change and develop as it is planned that the audience will be able to touch, walk around and through the cloth during the exhibition to experience the installation fully emotionally.

If I didn’t know your work – I would want more depth relating to stitch (feeling this perhaps connects to intuitive working), drawing with stitch, or spontaneous mark-making, piercing, etc. to extend a personal connectivity with the process?

In line with OCA Textile 3 Sustaining My Practice Part 3 Informed Creative Development-Defining and Revealing My Making I have just completed my sampling processes on vintage linen including the screen printing at the Wasps Studio Complex at Hanson Street and the stitching at home so more recent write ups, online blog entries and reflections included a greater focus upon the in-depth relating to stitch and my ongoing intuitive relating with the related materials in process. 

Could you expand upon “why” Scotland not only has the home-grown talent has but also attracts artists in perhaps a similar vein as Cornwall, Wales and Ireland for instant. Does your environment deepen creative engagement, inspire, and inform artistic endeavour? Would it be helpful to connect place with practitioners? Can you see similar patterns of working, colour palette, form, or environmental and ethical practices?

The current Culture Strategy for Scotland shows how important culture is to Scotland’s prosperity and sets the future direction for supporting culture in Scotland through the distribution of additional funding streams involving Create Scotland, Craft Scotland, and Wasps to name a few of the government supported agencies. In doing so many Scottish artists have continued to be based in Scotland to capitalise upon the available financial support, to be encouraged to creatively express their Scottish identity through their creative process and work. There is considerable support for the cultural workforce including through a new Arts Alive programme and advocating for fair work practices and a living wage for the cultural and creative workforce. Visual Arts Scotland and the Scottish Contemporary Art Network have proven that the creative programme is the largest budget commitment for organisations towards artistic and creative programmes which includes a plethora of artists using a range of artistic styles, approaches, materials, and ways of working across Scotland. Specific themes stand out within the contemporary art field, which is based upon political, economic, social, cultural, ethical, ecological, and sustainable themes with undercurrents of communication and activism. The contemporary art which has emerged from Scotland during the last twenty-five years is characterised by diversity, rather than by a particular style or dominant trend towards what it means to be Scottish and to be in Scotland. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

Exhibition Proposal: My advice moving forward would be to write a concise abstract (After constructing an abstract also consider drilling down into the very nature and composition of the proposed materials, applications, and mixed media). What do these potentially hold or project? 

Draft Exhibition Abstract- “Help me as I am struggling to want to be here”

A Series of Material Statements-Visual Representations of Mental Distress and Recovery (2021) is a group of large-scale mixed media works using screen printing and hand stitching on vintage linen bedsheets. The material qualities of the vintage linen bedsheets and threads are indicative of and help to reinforce the narrative, to tell the story of mental crisis through therapy to mental recovery through their strength, resilience, robustness, and enhanced capacity for repair. The work is autobiographical in nature and depicts real-life circumstances emotionally through the textile artists experiences as a psychologist. The scale of intuitive relating with the materials in process communicate the scale of emotional resonance felt within the therapeutic therapy process itself as a psychologist.  Throughout the creative process the textile artist sought to convey her own emotional experiencing, so others can feel to understand something of such experiencing.

The vintage linen bedsheets are imbedded with meaning for the textile artist, of her family’s history based in linen, of a lineage, weighted with provenance, of generations of home and mill workers making linen, of layers of experiencing enmeshed within the material, of personal identity and belonging. The vintage linen bedsheets lent themselves to communicating the narrative, of previous wear and tear, of communicating a range of experiencing through a lifetime and the repetitive need for repair. Of the capacity of the vintage linen bedsheets to encompass domestic life, pleasant dreams to traumatic nightmares, of bringing comfort, restorative sleep, and relaxation to unravelling despair and spiralling low mood. The aim then is to promote increased insight and understanding of the experiencing of mental distress and of the need for support, compassion, and time, to listen to understand free from labelling, judgement, and recrimination. To help counter the adage of man’s inhumanity to man, to afford those struggling with mental ill-health the therapeutic environment to mend and recover. The visual representations from each series of screen-printed imagery with printing inks builds up layers of emotional relating and responding with the vintage linen using colour combinations to best suit the emotional state of either distress or repair. The imagery stemmed from original artwork based upon neural mapping as the basis of all communication and understanding. Ultimately the textile artist sought to express the increased propensity for change, growth, and repair, for positive transformation from mental distress. That said the series invites the viewer to reflect upon mental distress and recovery, of their own emotional response to the sequence and to consider how they can help themselves and others to be more tolerate, understanding, compassionate and kind both self to self and self with other.

Will it be actual family linens – as this would add another layer of depth, meaning as the work would be weighted with responsibility?

Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate actual family linens which was my preferred first choice for material use. I have sourced the vintage linen bedsheets from a range of reputable suppliers to ensure sustainability credentials and appropriate age-wear and tear in keeping with the time of my own family’s involvement with linen. Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor supported me to locate the vintage linen as she primarily uses linen within her own screen-printing processes.

I plan to continue to connect emotional states with actions to communicate the core of my creative work as stated… 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 through traditional sewing stitches. With such experiencing drawn from the emotional engagement within therapy processes such a felt sense has been used to create and relate using hand screen printing and sewing processes.

A major new survey celebrates the creative reclamation and nurturing spirit of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (wallpaper.com)


I am continuing to keep abreast of the suggested resources especially El Anatsui as I have already researched this Ghanaian artist, I continue to follow his work and I included his work in my research process last year as he was and continues to be an influence regarding my approach to textile art.  https://weaveprint.com/2020/12/28/research-essay-critical-review/ https://weaveprint.com/2020/12/28/critical-review-proposal/

A major new survey celebrates the creative reclamation and nurturing spirit of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (wallpaper.com)


As stated, a major new survey celebrates the creative reclamation and nurturing spirit of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. He developed his artistic philosophy – of using what the environment throws up as medium as he emphasised ‘You should look for things around you, and not look for anything else, because if you find materials from around you, you will do work that relates to your location and circumstances.’ He has held on to these foundational principles and experimented with wooden mortars, broken ceramics, cassava graters, printing plates and milk tins; creating work with fluid forms, reminiscent of textiles, upsetting categories of sculpture, exploring the reuse and transformation of materials, proving how these materials are at once local and specific and yet transcend place. ‘My work has freedom as its watchword, the idea of freedom being able to shape itself or get shaped in different ways.’

Anatsui with assistants and a work in progress at his studio, designed by the Lagos-based practice James Cubitt Architects in 2015. Photography: Uche James Iroha

Like El Anatsui I try to locate used materials from local sources whenever it is possible to do so including a range of charity shops and to reclaim waste from numerous outlets which feels more in keeping with the way I work, my creative process, my narrative and what I wish to communicate through my making processes with repurposed materials. I have been particularly struck by this artists work for some time now including his more recent 2019 exhibition whereupon he created a walkway through hanging structures which I hope to replicate using printed and stitched vintage linen to visualise emotional recovery and repair.

El Anatsui (2019) “Logoligi Logarithm” comprises 66 individual units. The diaphanous structure is made using ultra-thin stitching made with bottle cap seals. Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/
El Anatsui (2019) Installation view of “In the World But Don’t Know the World.” The artist often refers to a traditional African graphical system used to form patterns on textiles, where each symbol has a particular meaning. Credit Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/

I have already purchased the recommended books as advised by Lizzy Levy, and I am currently revisiting both for additional insights and understanding for this current creative process and forthcoming exhibition.
The Subversive Stitch, Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine, Rozsika Parker
Using Textile Arts & Handicrafts in Therapy with Women, Weaving Lives Back Together, Ann Futterman Collier (written by a psychologist).

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