Saturday, 22 October 2011

Thoughts on what we choose to make for assessment

I've been thinking about what we choose to make for assessment.  In the Pattern & Meaning class, we were given a very open specification to make a piece of cloth, leading to either a portfolio of samples, an application for the body, or installation.  On the face of it, this seems simple.  We were advised that a portfolio of samples needed to have a very slick finish - the sort of object that could be taken to fashion buyers.  Not much was said about installations - and the installations seemed to give more problems. 

I had not realised how much consideration was required for hanging cloth, as I have described.  Some students chose to apply their fabric to lampshades, upholstery, canvas frames etc.  But most of us are artists, not skilled soft furnishers, or upholsterers.  And I think the skills required to get a good finish are beyond our current competence, particularly for the youngsters.  As a mature student who has been working with fabric for 30 years, I have a wider set of skills than many, even if it just means I know I don't have the competence to get the finish required.  I think it would have been helpful for students to have an appreciation of the level of finishing skills required for the relevant application.

I have thought some more about the way my assessment was staged.  The way the black piece was hung was unfortunate. It would have been better hung next to, and parallel to the rest of the work. But it needed to be along a beam so we could support it while the ends were being tied. I had a massive emotional reaction once it was hung. Jim rang from the south west corner of Australia, where he is cycle touring, and could tell immediately I spoke that the staging was not going well. It was at right angles to the rest of my work, and created an oppressive little box in the corner of the room. Standing close to it while pinning it in place, I felt completely enveloped in black malaise. At assessment, I could not even go near it. I did not dare start talking about it, because of how much I hated it (you don't say negative things about your work during assessment). Yet when it was being worked on the table, and I had a lot of light around me, I could tolerate it. Maybe it's coming back to my feelings about vertical and horizontal lines. Vertical lines represent railway lines taking me somewhere I don't want to be (and this was black vertical fabric - taking me to depression?) whereas horizontal lines represent the breadth of my horizon and potential and are so wide they go out of sight either side.  I'm never again going to work on black fabric with the purpose of hanging it!
I'm going to spend the weekend cutting stencils of gumnuts and leaves at about A4 size and work up some complicated layered fabric samples using various print media, then overprint Dad's image. If I can make a hefty portfolio and finish it well, I will be quite pleased. I think I need to consider mark making again so I might do some monoprint too.   I will consider what the potential problems are with making a portfolio, and see whether I can make a good job of creating a range of samples.

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