Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Mid semester review - Not a good day

Today was not a good day.

Screen prints to right of display

Pattern making from left side.

The photo of the central area was out of focus, but showed border patterns as print samples

I had spent all of Tuesday morning at the print table, then stood all afternoon, mounting my display.  My legs were tired, and my back ached with all the standing.

When it came to my review today, I explained how homesickness was influencing my use of traditional English print techniques, and incorporation of stitch, with an admiration of indigeneous Australian plants, to celebrate my opportunity of studying here.  I explained how I decided to use natural fabrics because of the importance of degradability, and its impact on habitable space for people in the domestic form, and worms and bacteria as it degrades.  I explained how I was trying to make my work less busy - so my key words were "simpler", "positive/negative" and "repetition", and applying these to patterns with spots, stripes and borders.

The feedback I received was that:

- rather than doing 3 versions of the patterns, I should do 10 and pick the best ones, before I create silkscreens.  (So the tutor does not like the patterns I have created so far, although he did not state why.  I had 5 versions of the spot, 2 stripes and 2 borders on display and others in my folio, not on display).

- I've done better work in my sketchbook  (I find this type of generalisation difficult.  To be able to utilise this information, I need to be told which pieces were better and why.  The work in my sketchbook was all very busy.  I am working with simplifying my pattern making.  I want to contrast this "simpler" project with the rest of the body of work that I have done so far in my degree. Creating one colour prints in very simple repeats is a contrast with the rest of my work)

- The work on display is chaotic.  (All displayed together, it was certainly busy.  The busiest patterns on display were not the ones I had chosen to make up as silkscreens).

I find it frustrating that we are allowed to work extensively to the specification that we have defined, then are told "you are not using your best work; you've picked the wrong pattern", without explaining why.

I am really struggling with homesickness at present.  I just want to go home.  I am particularly sick of the petty frustrations of not living in my own home, and not having my usual access to textile materials.  I know I came here to experience difference, but at the moment, I am sick of working with the limited resources.  It makes me appreciate how much we have in the UK - access to materials, and extensive art history, both within comparatively small areas. At home, I have 30 years of textile paraphernalia that I can access easily.  I can source base fabrics easily.  Here, we pay $120 materials fee, which gives a few half metre fabric samples, print binders and dye, screen emulsion, and devore paste.  We are not allowed to buy extra materials from the university store - you have to source these yourself.  University supplies are limited and often run out, at which point we are told "you can always buy your own".  It makes me really anxious to be planning work, and not to know whether the materials will be in stock.  Last semester we ran out of all print binders, and dye, and this year we've already run out of screen emulsion which ended up being collected by two students so we did not have to wait a week for the post to deliver it.  To create my textile portfolio and length of cloth, I need to source the fabrics myself.  None of the fabric shops are in the centre of Perth.  All are at least 2 bus rides away, each in a different location.  The favoured shop, Potters, supplies the quality fabrics I like, but is a wholesalers, and stock varies.  I cannot guarantee that a sample bought one day will still be available a week later.  I can't find anywhere local that stocks any embroidery thread, not even stranded thread.

These material frustrations really make me appreciate the textile store at University of Herts, where you can buy quality controlled materials, at virtually cost price, only pay for what you need, and it is always fully stocked.  The only limitation is that it is only open for one hour, morning and afternoon, and you have to plan your day's requirements.

And where I'm working with the (limited) materials that I can access easily and with which I am familiar, I am then told the basic designs are naff.  I should use the designs from my sketchbook.  I have the skills but not the material familiarity in Australia to make these up in fabric.  The design I have in mind, would require low water immersion dyeing, plus colour print plus discharge print.  I've not used the dyes here (complicated process where I would want to use brands I've used in the UK and they are different here), and you need to test the discharge print on both the dye and fabric to get a good result.  All far too difficult.  And it does not meet the specification of my project.

So all in all, I had a really naff day.

I think I will leave the textile project for a week, and focus on History of Art where I have an essay to prepare.

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