Part 4- Continuing Creative Development for the Exhibition
Assignment 4 Review- Completion of Project Work
Screenprinting and Handstitching Processes
Gillian Morris Student No. 511388
As noted previously I continued to be led by the initial artwork inspirations for the screen-printing processes and prior screen printing with hand stitching sampling processes which stemmed from researching visual imagery from neural mapping whereby many creative processes evolved using different techniques and materials. The visual basis of neural connectivity and disturbance, of human identity and connection acted as the starting point for my own creative need to emotionally express what I wanted to communicate concerning the scale of mental distress and the need for recovery. My own personal and professional experiencing was utilised using the felt sense, to use what I had felt and experienced from others mental distress and crisis through a psychotherapeutic process to recovery and repair, towards enhanced resilience and robustness, the emotional toll was extreme and not without its own vicarious effects.
Extensive preparatory work continued to be undertaken given the requirements of such large-scale screen-printing processes especially as several images had to be changed from what was learned through the prior sampling processes. Several screens had to be cleaned, recoated and the original artwork was altered, re-scanned and exposed onto the screens as the scale of the artwork was no longer suitable for larger scale work. To ensure that specific imagery centred around neural connectivity, disruption, and disturbance the multiple imagery gave way to a single very large image. Through doing so the overall scale could be better capitalised upon to visualise the core narrative. Such altered imagery was scanned at the highest resolution which was 1200 within the Wasps studio complex so every nuance and mark made could again be transferred onto the screens. To have the capacity to access such additional equipment and tools like the Brother A3 Print Copy Scanner aided what could be achieved in creative practice. Once uploaded use of the Apple iMac with the latest software installed ensured the textural detailing was captured via Photoshop. At Wasps Studio Complex, Hanson Street, Glasgow I was able to prepare my artwork imagery for the screens for the larger scale screen-printing processes. The number of prepared second-hand screens continued to increase to help expand my creative options given the extensive range of mark making realised from the artwork and the sampling processes.
In undertaking such extensive sampling processes from the outset, a lot of the learning, knowledge and understanding gleaned from such processes informed this project of work. Through extensive colour sampling the preferred core colour range was made known and adhered to for the larger scale print work. I was led by the initial research processes of neural mapping and related artwork alongside further investigations concerning neural anatomy and physiology, of relatable colours to human tissue. Human brains are generally grey with black, white and red. As living matter, the brain is comprised of nerves, veins, blood vessels, cells, nerve fibres and neurons and neuro-connectors. The white matter of the brain is made up primarily of axon tracts, within some brain cells. These tracts transmit the electrical signals that the brain cells or neurons, use to communicate and are wrapped in a fatty layer called myelin, which insulates the axons and allows them to conduct signals quickly. The type of fat in myelin makes it look white, so myelin-dense white matter takes on a white hue as well. In contrast, grey matter is mostly neuron cell bodies and non-neuron brain cells called glial cells. These glial cells provide nutrients and energy to neurons. They help transport glucose into the brain, clean the brain of excess chemicals and are thought to affect the intensity of the neurons’ communications in the human brain. These cells are not surrounded by white myelin, they take on the natural greyish colour of the neurons and glial cells which looks pinkish, due to the many tiny blood vessels or capillaries. That considered this understanding helped to inform the colour choices especially the selection of reds through to pinks, greys with white and black. The overall colour palette was paired down as deemed to be more visually striking and impactful.
The linen bedsheets were sourced from a number of sites using Ebay and Etsy as no such vintage linen could be located and sourced locally. Much time was afforded to visit second hand suppliers of linen within Scotland especially throughout Fife and Dundee but options were restricted which was further complicated by COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. I would have preferred a more personal provenance to the linen given my families direct connection with the production of linen but never the less I related with the cloth on sight given its age, wear, repair, and value. The beautiful quality vintage linen which was acquired was so obviously used, loved and cherished for many years as most bedlinen sheets had been hand embroidered with initials and meticulously repaired by hand on numerous occasions. The full vintage linen bedsheets were dyed various shades of grey to match each series of mental health crisis and recovery. The vintage linen bedsheets were not regular sizes and of the dyed bedsheets used their sizes included 285 x 203cm, 200 x 224cm and 256 x205cm and varied in weight averaging between 1.5-2 kgs.
From the previous sampling processes the preferred colour palette continued to be used with good effect. Often through using such colours akin to human brains including white, grey with black, pink, and red I felt linked to the visceral nervous system of another as well as my own. The white matter of the brain felt palpable, of the axon tracts with myelin. The multiple interactions of grey matter seemed to pulsate with electrical and chemical communications as living tissue with dispersed pinkish tones. The layering of multiple textured mark making simulated the complexity of neural mapping with emotional resonance, of feeling the pain of another through their shared experiencing.
Considerable time was afforded to relate the imagery with the colour palette and the dyed linen material to maintain increased clarity of what felt right using the full sized dyed vintage linen bedsheets for the final exhibition of my creative work. Since I wanted to clearly communicate the effects of mental distress and recovery, to not dilute and distil but to evoke and challenge the reality of such experiencing relating to deep inward feelings I was led by how I felt in response to the screen printing, the colour of the printing ink, and the cloth as each vintage linen grey dyed bedsheet was unique. Each panel responded to and reacted with each creative process differently as the linen fibres, composition, weave, strength, thickness, surface quality, and tension varied. So, the approach to each full-sized linen bedsheet was individualised through getting to know the material and its qualities and building up material-led relating including how much pressure was applied, the number of pulls required, and stitching used. While this undertaking is theoretically driven it is not purely an intellectual and academic pursuit and endeavour rather the creative process has been led by an innate, instinctive, and deep-rooted emotional drive to convey something of the neural overstimulation with distress coupled with the neural quietening through recovery and repair, of the imperative nature of support to reduce mental and physical arousal and damage. That visceral feeling was sought and responded to as I progressed through the large-scale screen-printing processes, of that intuitive gut response in-process as I related with the imagery selected, the screen placement and pressure applied through the squeegee use and the application of the inks within areas or throughout the screen. When I felt emotion akin to what I felt in therapy with clients at particularly difficult moments of experiencing it felt real, authentic, and congruent to what I was communicating, it then resonated fully with the narrative through this creative process and work.
The textural qualities exuded strength, resilience, robustness and wear in process which suited and matched the narrative, the story telling of personal journeys from mental despair and desolation to recovery and renewed coping, to highlight the need for acceptance of mental ill-health and the need for formal and informal support to aid mental health. Through this visual retelling an increased focus was on communicating this process of recovery, of triumph over adversity, of managing to quieten the fear, emotional pain and hyperarousal towards the enhanced capacity to self-soothe and self-calm, to be with self without negative rumination and anxious anticipation, to experience more acceptance, acknowledgement and letting go free from judgement and criticism.
This series of visual imagery was used to conceptualise mental recovery through repair used screen printing and hand stitching . Such creative processes forged the way forward for an identified and preferred way of relating and reponding to/with dyed and screenprinted vintage linen bedsheets in process, to best communicate a sense of mental health recovery and repair through screen printing and hand sewing. I continued to integrate hand stitching with the full-sized double bedsheets, to the surface of the dyed vintage linen which was not intended 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.
Through such larger-scale screen printing and stitching processes I couldn’t help but reflect upon so many individual therapy processes which I have been directly involved in which has informed my creative relationship with the vintage linen. I have been privileged to be part of such journeys, to witness others at their most vulnerable, at their rawest, of their willingness to share and let me see their emotional hurt, pain and fear, to allow me to help them to help themselves. Such psychotherapeutic relating helped to lead the way concerning the visual representation of mental recovery and repair, of representing such therapy processes through screenprinting and stitching. Through reflecting in process I felt better placed to be emotionally responsive to conveying and communicating what I wanted to say creatively, to visually transfer such emotion into what I was doing in print and stitch.