OCA Textiles 3 Sustaining My Practice

Part 5- Exhibition Folio and Review

Assignment 5- Supporting Research and Analysis of Creative Project Work and Exhibition

Gillian Morris Student No. 511388

Gillian Morris (2021) “Help me, I’m struggling to want to be here!” Mental Health Crisis- A Visual Account of Emotional Distress. 203cm x 274cm Screen-Printed Vintage Linen Bedsheet using intuitive emotional relating with the materials. Various greys, black, sugarplum pink, ruby red and pomegranate printing inks used on vintage dyed grey linen which explored greater emotional arousal.

With the support of my tutor, Lizzy Levy I have undertaken extensive research processes to enable me to complete my creative work as evidenced throughout my website-online blog (learning log) https://weaveprint.com/  Throughout the 160 individual blog entries I have evidenced thoroughly the scale of research work and creative work which has been undertaken from the outset of the Sustaining My Practice processes. Given the pandemic and the online emphasis for evidencing and showing my work for tutor feedback and the formal assessment processes, I sought to evidence contemporaneously my research, associated thinking processes, decision making and overall reasoning including the step-by-step stages of rationalisation of what I did and why I did it as I did it through my online blog entries. In doing so a full record of my research, learning, and creative making and relating could be seen, read, and understood.

As noted by Lizzy Levy, I have continued to build and develop a meaningful and engaging body of thoughtfully conceived work whereby I have managed to deepen my relationship with materiality which has been embedded within my creative practice as well as evidenced the importance of provenance. I have shown my commitment and desire to maintain an ethical, sustainable practice with a respect of and for the materials and process which included evidence of reclaiming materials and sustainably sourced products which retain that depth of respect. My investigation into the embedded histories of linen that bear the scars of wear naturally linked to my subject of mental well-being. My tutor acknowledged that by marrying my profession as a psychologist with creative practice including integrating what I know and have researched from both arenas I have evolved and developed as a textile artist. I continued to build upon these vital sources including primary, secondary, and researched through making to deepen my relationship with each process.

As discussed with my tutor many times this process of research and making creatively was an on-going process, one that I have grappled with, of continuing to create, of always thinking and reflecting, of being curious, to seek new solutions to push my personal boundaries to continue to develop myself and my creative work to the next level which I feel and think that I have managed to do through this series of project work and final exhibition. I have forged new relationships with who I am as a textile artist, and I have integrated core aspects of myself and my professional identity within and throughout the making processes. My tutor said that I was able to deepen my engagement and understanding of “why” I “work/practice or create in the way I do to create my methodology” which was not an easy process in underpinning essential aspects of my process in identifying how and why these methods are vital to the work.

“Through a series experimentation with hand stitching I have started to forge a preferred way of relating and responding to/with dyed and screen-printed vintage linen bedsheets to best communicate a sense of mental health recovery and repair through hand sewing. I am increasingly integrating hand stitching to the surface of the dyed vintage linen which is 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.” (Morris, 2021)

“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 hand sewing and stitching processes. Indeed, through such research concerning sewing and the related sampling processes I was struck by the history and meaning of women’s work and art, of the actual then increasingly inferred connotations of domesticity and women’s work from within the home setting which often included their sewing. Through the years women’s contributions have been seen through the negative gender stereotyped lens of such domestic role and expectations, which could be seen as inferior, of less value and worth compared to paid employment and bread winner status. That said this often encapsulated a sense of women’s work as being less than especially hand sewing as it was small scale, hidden from view, and out of sight. In considering this I have been conscious of the need to be big, brave, bold, and seen… to communicate what I need to be felt and heard. Of the need to communicate what is so often not spoken about… of mental health and distress, of the need for equal regard with physical health as there is no health without mental health, of being listened to through the use of very large-scale work which cannot be ignored.” (Morris, 2021)

That said through this most recent creative process I feel that I have established a personal visual language to my body of work which has been reinforced through my self-motivation, autonomy, and professionalism to take my work to the next step. I have produced a body of work which demonstrates a high level of visual, aesthetic, and technical understanding of the processes involved. I have selected practical outcomes that are unique to me and not like other practitioners, of creating a personal aesthetic. As Lizzy Levy noted my creative works have evidenced a fluid, professional translation as my role as a psychologist embeds an authentic voice within the works and as my creative output gathers momentum naturally connecting my profession/ethics/passions within the work this transition is a natural departure holding the potential to continue feeding into my future profession as a practicing artist. There was positive acknowledgement of the new colour combinations, layering of motive, embellishment of stitch and my connection to emotion, emotional reaction, both my own and the emotions attached to encountering the work.

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. (Morris, 2021)

 I feel that I have demonstrated specific knowledge and understanding of the professional and contextual location of my practice and developed a personal promotional strategy, portfolio, and other appropriate means of presenting my practice at a professional level as I continued to utilise research in a strongly meaningful manner. As reinforced by Lizzy Levy “this methodology of embedding research whether primary, secondary or research via making” is well developed which aids a “well informed deeper engagement with process and making.” My tutor thought that I “had evidenced a very good understanding of the specialist, professional, context of my work. In identifying the specific niche where I envision my work has enabled my strength and courage in approaching WASPS and taking up the challenge of a short lead time.”

There was mention from my tutor that I have continued to work in a professional and accomplished manner to create a successfully installed exhibition “this opportunity and site resulted in my active engagement with WASPS, utilising their workshop spaces as well as forging important relationships with artists and practitioners. I have documented the show very effectively within my online website using very good photographic imagery that illustrates the whole process from empty exhibition spaces through to installation. This is a methodically recorded process with strong artist’s statement and exhibition description as well as strengthening the analytical commentary.”

I successfully explored and researched from the outset the idea of a place and space for my work including Workshop & Artists Studio Provision Scotland (WASPS) exhibition spaces which also offered important sites for me to engage with others especially involving the resident artists within the artist’s studio complexes. Through such interactions with people on site and my own creative making processes, the space that most suited my work could be fully evaluated. I was aware early on of the increased scale of my textile art which informed what I planned and researched concerning preferred exhibition sites and curation involving placement and layout. I also actively engaged in a range of research processes that informed how practicing artists install their works. This knowledge has supported my findings of contemporary, relevant, and impactful hanging and installation techniques. Through such research processes of the spaces available I planned accordingly, regarding scale, dimensions, installation techniques and methods of hanging/framing. As I had worked within the WASPS studios and forged important relationships with other artists and staff, I had gathered a lot of the necessary research required for setting up a solo show.

“I have researched widely throughout Central Scotland and liaised extensively for possible exhibition spaces which can hold appropriately my large scale, screen printed vintage linen bedsheets. Given my ongoing creative affiliation with Wasps and their significant range of exhibition spaces on offer I focused upon fully researching such provision for the best exhibition options. Wasps is a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists, arts organisations, and creative businesses. They currently house over 900 artists and 33 organisations at 20 buildings across Scotland. Since I already regularly used the Artist Studio Complex at Hanson Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow for my large-scale screen-printing processes I was aware of the exhibition space there. I often used the exhibition space to photograph my artwork, so I was fully familiar with its overall dimensions and suitability for larger-scale work. The surroundings are an ideal canvas for textiles with large white walls and high open ceilings for wall hangings and hanging textile work from ceilings. One wall length has large-scale windows which offers a well-lit space with natural light to highlight the textiles on show. Such an exhibition venue is centrally situated and easily accessible as it is in Glasgow with excellent public transport links and car parking facilities with Wasps Staff on site.” (Morris, 2021)

Given the reduced lead time I planned early on the need to prepare the space, to enable installation of my textile work as there was little room for error. The planning processes were founded on earlier extensive research centred upon the preparation of my screen-printed vintage linen panels for hanging, what was required to enable the hanging of my work, the acquisition of all the required tools and equipment for the show and the compilation of the related literature to ensure everything was ready in advance of the actual opening. As my exhibition proposal had been accepted by Wasps this meant that I could use a professional exhibition space with its own hanging rods in situ which eased the scale of exhibition preparation which was required. That said there was still a lot to do including the curation of the exhibition, hanging the textiles, and preparing the exhibition space including the use of the exhibition literature and information about me, my creative process and work. Ultimately the scale of ongoing research towards planning for and setting up the exhibition ran alongside my own creative processes which helped me to be fully prepared to realise a professional solo show.

In conclusion my tutor noted that I “had produced a body of work that demonstrated a high level of visual, aesthetic and technical understanding of the processes that I have adopted. The works exhibited illustrated my skills in print, manipulation of material surface and stitch. These were professionally produced with discernment; resulting in aesthetically pleasing and impactful installation pieces.” “My use of WASPS both as a studio space and exhibition site evidenced my ability to utilise professional places to both make work and show works. My creative output was contextually at home within this setting which was a well-conceived and well-executed show.”

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