OCA Textiles 3 Sustaining My Practice

Part 5-Portfolio of Work

Assignment 5 Personal Evaluation of the Creative Work, Presentation and Future Considerations

Gillian Morris Student No. 511388

Gillian Morris (2021) Mental Health Recovery- A Visual Account of Emotional Repair using rows of back stitching and vintage linen black waxed thread to strengthen and reinforce.

Personal Evaluation of the Creative Work and Exhibition Presentation

On reviewing the creative process and work achieved I have been left feeling both pleased and fatigued at the quality and quantity of what I have managed to do this year. From the outset I was intent on continuing to develop as a textile artist, to reflect at depth concerning my preferred narrative, to incorporate who I am within the imagery and materials used, to communicate what is important to me and others through utilising my own personal and professional identity. Every stage of the creative process has involved considerable research and reflection from the original artwork to the meaning and provenance of the materials used, of my own emotional relating in process as a consequence of such imbued meaning and relevance.

Extensive prior learning and related knowledge of screen printing was put to good use through out this creative process. While I have printed larger scale previously I had not used such large scale imagery and screens. The sheer scale of the screen printing processes required the support of Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, Textile Artist as each screen was so large two people were required for every print made. Such engagement proved to be an interesting and helpful process as there was considerable discussion about the printing processes and reflection on what I wanted to achieve and why. It proved to be a much enjoyed creative process as it was lovely to talk about textiles for sixteen full days while in the Wasps studio. Through being based within the Wasps artist studio complex at Hanson street much feedback was also gleaned from other artists as and when my vintage linen panels were temporarily hung up in the exhibition space. Such engagement from others has led to me re-evaluating the merits of collaborative working and of my preference to increasingly work with other artists as my professional career as a textile artist develops.

The process of making and the realisation of the creative work itself was so immersive as the imagery, colour palette and materials evoked experiencing from within a range of psychotherapeutic relationships which were challenging and  emotional with such complexity and chronicity of mental distress. That said there were also multiple joyous memories experienced which were heart felt as individuals moved towards positive change, growth and repair. Through feeling so much through the creative process including material relating I felt such emotion was conveyed and communicated within the sampling processes and eight completed linen panels. On reflection I feel there is still so much more to investigate creatively within this narrative and work stream. I aim to push myself further with such imagery and vintage linen, to be looser with the print processes and to be increasingly disruptive with the imagery, to continue to develop what is possible from the extensive range of options available from such prior learning and experiencing with the screens and materials especially given the increased range of images exposed onto the screens.

I was pleased with how the exhibition preparation was completed through the prior research undertaken. I had methodically worked out what was required and how I would achieve it through researching other artists and their experiencing of exhibiting their own work using online articles, art and craft magazines, websites, webinars, and books. Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, Textile Artist also suggested options from her own extensive experiencing with exhibitions including the 62 Group. Ultimately the exhibition went so well due to all the hard work put in at every stage of the preparatory processes to enable the exhibition to be realised. Through knowing the Wasps artists studio complex at Hanson street so well including the exhibition space I was aware of what was required workwise to fill the space. I knew the dimensions inside out as I had often used the space to hang work there while in process to see it from different perspectives. This invariably helped me to know the scale required which also suited the narrative, of being seen. Such knowledge and understanding was a vital part of the preparation for the exhibition.


I was initially worried about how my work would look when hung together as I had undertaken a series of mini exhibitions to trial specific panels individually up until the specific preparation for the exhibition. That said I need not have been concerned as the whole body of work came together well and inhabited the exhibition space perfectly as commented upon by other artists. I was delighted to see how the eight panels and framed examples of some of the sampling processes filled the space so well. The exhibition was professionally undertaken and presented which resulted in a quality-led presentation of my work which was equivalent to a professional gallery art show.  I was really happy with the flow around the exhibition space, of the layout and how all the vintage linen panels could be seen from every angle as they could all be walked around, which increasingly created a fully immersive experience for the other artists and visitors. This was particularly relevant for the five-panel central installation as it was hung so that individuals could fully inhabit and be cocooned within the panels to feel comforted and soothed, which was pertinent to mental recovery and repair. The scale of natural light cascading in also helped the vintage linen panels to be seen in their best light.

Along the way there have been many frustrations as undertaking this type of creative process within a studio complex during a pandemic was not without its delays and disappointments. Often there was the need to cancel arrangements given COVID-19, the lockdown restrictions and the incidence of physical ill-health. Longer timescales were required for so many different elements of the preparatory stages and undertaking the creative processes especially the screen printing which required additional working practices to be undertaken to maintain safe distances. Masks were worn throughout and often designated roles and responsibilities were agreed upon to limit contact and to reduce the scale of crossing over the materials, equipment and screens. I was conscious that I had continued to work in the NHS in health centres seeing patients face to face throughout 2020 and 2021 so I had a duty of care to ensure that I maintained safe practice while printing as I would in the NHS. This naturally slowed down many of the creative processes however in doing so it aided my reflective capacity and the scale of consideration extolled with every print.

Future Considerations

Further Academic Study- MA in Textiles

For me this degree process and academic study has been essential to expand and deepen my creative practice to connect academic learning with specific areas of knowledge, experience and skills, as well as to widen my approaches used and relationships developed with textiles. Through this programme of study I have continued to develop as a professional and contemporary textile artist who creates gallery ready textile work which is led by a personally relevant narrative and relationship with textiles.  I feel able to clearly articulate the depth and breadth of my experiencing, knowledge, skills and competences to a range of audiences, to help continue to communicate what I want to say through my textile artwork. That said I have developed an increased focus and preference for lifelong learning, to be increasingly enquiring, to naturally use evidence from research to apply critically-led, enquiry-based approaches to my creative process to meet conceptual and practical challenges experienced in life and living. I therefore see academia as being highly relevant to who I am as a professional textile artist which will continue to help fuel my ongoing creative potential. In considering this I intend to complete an MA in Textiles course once I have successfully completed my undergraduate degree programme in textiles. While I have researched widely I have included an example of post-graduate options for further consideration.

MA Textiles- University for the Creative Arts (UCA)  https://www.uca.ac.uk/

Through research the MA Textiles course, based at UCA Farnham, will develop my individual research into textile art, culture, craft and design, enabling me to combine my experience of textiles practice with a personal project which is my preference going forward. I wish to continue to be challenged and to challenge myself, to explore new options and possibilities for my own work using new materials, processes, techniques and ideas, to continue to develop my textile practice and my own personal vision as a professional textile artist. I like UCA as there are links there with established artists and designers drawn from a multi-national cohort and their team comprises eminent professors, visiting scholars, academics and associate lecturers, experienced practitioners, designer-makers, artists and researchers who work in the industry, produce commissions, regularly exhibit and are published internationally.

This MA Textiles programme includes opportunities to work on live projects with established galleries which is one of my creative goals. The content of lectures and seminars focuses on professional practice, and I can expect to hear from high profile guest speakers from art, craft, industry and design practices which will aid my own professional development. There are excellent facilities on site including archives of historical and contemporary material objects to study and the internationally renowned Crafts Study Centre – UCA’s purpose-built museum, research centre and gallery dedicated to crafts offers possibilities for my own practice as a textile artist to be promoted. All the Masters programmes are closely supported by three internationally recognised craft and design research centres: the Craft Study Centre, the International Textiles Research Centre and the Centre for Sustainable Design who are also mutually supporting, offering learning and teaching experience to actively support interdisciplinary opportunity and an expanded practice outlook. Industry links are well-established here including a range of industry connections with The Crafts Council, Royal School of Needlework, Selvedge Magazine, Nuno Corporation, and The New Ashgate Gallery. Guest speakers include Rachel Kelly, wallpaper designer, Yosi Anaya, textiles designer and Dr Jane Harris, textiles designer. A number of preferred career options include self-employed designer-maker, textile designer, and arts educator. As academically-led and research driven I remain interested in progressing on beyond the masters level of study to complete an MPhil or PhD.

MA Textiles- University of Huddersfield https://courses.hud.ac.uk/full-time/postgraduate/textiles

The MA in Textiles covers a broad area of contemporary textile and surface design practice. The MA in Textiles offers recent graduates, opportunities to enhance their knowledge, skills, creativity and employment prospects, through imaginative enquiry into different textile and surface design concepts and processes. There is an emphasis on the development of innovative and imaginative approaches to materials, processes and methodologies in textiles, and to rigorously test these ideas against trends within current practice which appeals to me. In doing so there is a focus on evidencing advanced critical evaluation and the development of traditional and innovative textile techniques in the creation of new products and concepts, experimentation of progressive thinking in the sustainable practices for textiles to meet future industry opportunities and customer demands. There will be an academic need to systematically plan, negotiate, and implement a body of work underpinned by advanced practice and research in textiles and/or surface design to aid the building of my own portfolio for ongoing professional practice as a textile artist which naturally interests me. Core elements include a range of research methods and a project proposal including practice-led research methods- creative and design thinking, user-centred methods, practice-led approaches, cultural analysis, historical/archival research and market-driven data capture and analysis. 

Creative innovation and entrepreneurship is prioritised which will expand my knowledge and understanding of different approaches to creative innovation (social, ethical and sustainable aspects), provide guidance on business start-ups, and assist me in my professional skills and development  including searching for marketing, promotion, consultancy and funding opportunities. Within the creative studio a range of advanced creative concepts and practices across art and design including conceptual direction, creative contexts, critical processes will be enhanced. Professional practice within textiles will promote further learning and skills development which will aid the making of a body of practical work supported by specialist workshops for textiles, as linked to contemporary culture. I will have access to digital and analogue resources for the creation of textiles, surface design (knit, weave, print, laser cutting, advanced 3D technologies), textile design, and construction (advanced manufacturing suite), embellishment (hand and machine embroidery) and visualisation tools (such as Adobe Suite, specialist fashion/textile software, digital photography studio, virtual reality and motion tracking), as required. The sustainable futures major project will promote new paradigms of practice associated with technological, theoretical and design contexts and the processes of the creation and manufacture of textiles and surface design. Through research and development there will be new opportunities to design by facilitating change to create alternative sustainable textiles, surface products or experiences which is a particular area of interest for me.  

Future Focus: Setting up my Business as a Professional Textile Artist through Wasps Artist Studio Complexes, Application to Membership Textile Groups, Participation in Calls for Work, and Engagement with Commission Work and Competitions

I am now increasingly focused upon developing my business involving textile art, which means I have liaised extensively with a range of agencies and researched thoroughly to make known what I do, how I work, why I work and my self-employment aspirations which has included ongoing contact with Creative Scotland and Craft Scotland, Workshop & Artists Studio Provision (Scotland) (WASPS) and Made in Stirling (as part of the local division of Create Scotland). I am currently in receipt of additional local support from Business Gateway to write a formal business plan, to utilise a range of online and face to face business advice resources including finance related and concerning government regulations as well as to select an appropriate business model and structure.





One of my preferred goals will be membership of the 62 Group as an artist led organisation which aims to incorporate and challenge the boundaries of textile practice through an ambitious and innovative annual programme of exhibitions. Through such membership I can be part of a vibrant, innovative, and creatively challenging textile group which will help to ensure my own continuing development within the arena of contemporary weave, stitch, and print. Through joining a textile group for artists and run by artists expectations will be high including the requirement to exhibit regularly as a key prerequisite to membership which I wish to do. Through the capacity to liaise with so many well established, informed, and successful contemporary textile artists my own creative practice will continue to be stimulated and thrive. I have already been influenced by several textile artists within the 62 Group and I have often referenced them throughout my blog entries and learning logs to date so I anticipate this will help to continue to keep me based in the contemporary domain and to collaborate with other textile artists.

The 62 Group is an artist led organisation that aim to incorporate and challenge the boundaries of textile practice through an ambitious and innovative annual programme of exhibitions. https://www.62group.org.uk/

What particularly impressed me with the 62 Group was their unrelenting standards. Members know that their work will be subjected to appraisal by a panel of their fellow members before it is accepted in any 62 Group exhibitions and that they will be asked to serve on such selection panels from time to time. I relish the opportunity to become involved and to participate, to continue to learn from others to keep moving my creative practice on. With the groups continuing programme of annual exhibitions, and its established international reputation for professionalism, quality of work and strength of purpose my own creative practice can only improve and expand with such academic and creative rigour.

Membership of the Edge Textile Artists Scotland group is another preferred goal moving forward. Such membership assures me that I am joining a group dedicated to promoting excellence in contemporary textile art in Scotland with the expectation of continuous development within creative practice. Keeping aspirational as well as inspirational is at the core of the Edge philosophy and that is achieved by following the constitutional premise that they are bound to a selection process both to join the group and to exhibit work. On applying for membership, there is an acceptance that Edge Scotland and its membership will actively encourage an interest in pursuing my creativity which I look forward to. This membership organisation strives to promote the desire to produce new and cutting edge work to have solo and group exhibitions, to keep that creativity alive. Being part of a group like Edge will ensure continuing development and creativity. https://edge-textileartists-scotland.com/

Again, like the 62 Group I was drawn towards the academic and creative rigour to maintain standards throughout their regular exhibition programme with their ongoing creative processes, learning and development opportunities. Through such membership there will be many options to share and exchange roles and responsibilities which will help to extend my creative practice within the contemporary field, to keep abreast of textile art in Scotland and to increasingly develop my professional practice as a textile artist.

Being part of Edge Textile Artists, Scotland has the potential to become a significant resource for maintaining contemporary textile practice through the ongoing promotion of enhanced creativity. https://edge-textileartists-scotland.com/

Future Focus- Competitions especially the 2022 Cordis Prize for Tapestry

The Cordis Prizes were initiated by Miranda Harvey and Ian Rankin of the Cordis Trust in order to celebrate the city of Edinburgh as a centre of excellence for tapestry weaving which strives to promote links between established tapestry artists and the thriving community of enthusiastic amateur and emerging artists. The Cordis Prize for Tapestry celebrates ambition in weaving on an international scale and aims to continue to promote this artform through this platform. In being the world’s biggest award for tapestry I aim to create larger scale tapestries which will be considered for such competitions to encourage greater ambition, skill, and innovation within my contemporary weaving. Contemporary tapestry artists and previous Cordis Prize winners continue to influence and inspire me to achieve through their practice, process and showing their work. Anne Bjørn for example was a finalist at The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2021, who has introduced new techniques and approaches to tapestry weaving which has helped me to create new relationships with this medium as seen at Inverleith House, Edinburgh.

Anne Bjørn (Denmark) Combine II, Finalist-The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2021, Inverleith House, Edinburgh.

I continue to research widely and through seeing The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2021 finalists and winner in the flesh I have been influenced to increase the scale in which I work for future tapestry weaving creative processes like print and stitch. I was enthralled with the artists use of light alongside how the materials were used as Anne Bjørn stated “I use light as a tool to transform the textile from definite handmade craft into ambiguous space. By letting the tapestries cast a shadow, by doubling, reflecting, distorting and repeating the work, it becomes more a question of an actual evocation of the textile and the many different views contained in an image than a traditional artistic practice. I am preoccupied with the simple expression as a poetic force.” That said I was enabled to see new directions within my own use of tapestry weaving incorporating different forms of weave as evidenced by the Cordis Prize winner Louise Martin.

Louise Martin – Lifetime used silk, linen, and paper warp and weft. Winner of The Cordis Prize 2021 for Tapestry, Inverleith House, Edinburgh.

The work Lifetime was created from silk, linen, cotton and paper warp and weft. It references a daily life lived and is “informed by landscape and travel combined with a strong influence in technique, structure and form”. It was considered to be an extraordinary piece by a very gifted artist. I have known Louise Martin for years as I have regularly attended her workshops and I have always been fascinated by her range of innovative weave techniques which has been increasingly freeing for me. I aim to continue to see tapestry weaving within much wider parameters going forward. I plan to see what can be created with such materials and techniques to achieve an overall spectrum of shades and textures, light and shade. It was wonderful to see Lifetime in the flesh as it glowed in the sunlight, I could recognise just what a beautiful piece it is. Although a reasonably flat surface it presented as having multiple surfaces and dimensions given the complexity of the weave structure and use of thread with stitch. Such a weave structure and material use caught the light beautifully which gave the impression of multiple areas of light throughout the tapestry weaving. Such an exhibition has fuelled greater ambition towards my own creative process and work. http://thetapestryprize.org/project/2021cordisprize/

The Royal Scottish Academy for Art and Architecture- Calls for Work, Exhibitions, and Commission Work

The Royal Scottish Academy for Art and Architecture (RSA) Current Exhibition, The Academicians Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh https://www.royalscottishacademy.org/
The Royal Scottish Academy for Art and Architecture (RSA) Artist Opportunities https://www.royalscottishacademy.org/
The Royal Scottish Academy for Art and Architecture (RSA) Artist Opportunities https://www.royalscottishacademy.org/

From recent contact with The Royal Scottish Academy for Art and Architecture (RSA) I plan to exhibit regularly and take part in their year-round programme of exhibitions, artist opportunities and related educational talks and events which support artists at all stages of their careers. I also aim to take full advantage of additional opportunities to exhibit work, of being involved within the ongoing programme of RSA exhibitions, RSA talks, events and excursions, to investigate and follow up with options to join national and international art tours, and to keep up to date with what’s on. Led by eminent artists and architects, the RSA embodies a wealth of professional experience and over the last decade they continue to strive to ensure that the Academy remains relevant to the needs of today’s artists and architects. Importantly, the Academy continues to evolve, electing new members, exhibiting new work, developing its collections and supporting and promoting excellence in contemporary Scottish art which I would like to be a part of. https://www.royalscottishacademy.org/

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