It has been a busy summer working towards the end of my MA, putting together written submissions alongside work for the final exhibition. I set myself the challenge of exploring how to translate change over time not only through the fabric of Kombucha but also through drawing work and photography. It has certainly felt like a whirlwind of creativity and production and there didn’t seem enough hours in the day to resolve all that I wanted to resolve. I realised that working with ‘time’ as one of my ingredients proved stressful as I could neither speed it up nor slow it down. However, all my effort in growing a 27foot piece of Kombucha fabric was worth it. Despite the risk of failure and stressful moments whilst growing, harvesting, drying and salting the fabric, I was pleased I had challenged myself. It had been a period of uncertainty, to begin with an idea but not quite knowing what will result.
I have always been fascinated by book forms…their intimacy and preciousness where the viewer and book have a special close connection and relationship. I wanted to construct a book from Kombucha fabric and watch it change over a couple of months whilst submerged in saline solution. It is interesting that even now whilst being exhibited, changes are taking place and the salt crystals are slowly being coloured by the rusty bolts going through it. I find it fascinating that although it is a book that contains a narrative and content, no-one can read it or know what is inside on the Kombucha pages. It will be interesting to watch how time will continue to change it over the following year.
I continued to use the littoral as my studio for drawing work, taking photographs and submerging Kombucha in the sea to start off the salting process. This was a welcomed escape from the stress of growing the 27 foot Kombucha piece. Despite the slowness of the Kombucha growing process, it was interesting that all my explorations on the beach were fast. They had to be as the tide was coming in! I was starting to work with time in a very different way.
Drawing is an integral part of my practice and my sketchbook seemed constantly wet in trying to capture change over time on the beach. So many ideas were surfacing, I could have spent every day there exploring them. I see drawing very much as evidence of thinking.
I have been thinking a lot recently about why I draw, what drawing means to me, what is drawing and when does drawing become something else? So when does a drawing in paint become a painting ? Can drawing be done through fabric? I see drawing as visual thinking, a form of analysis, learning and interpretation. It can be wholly immersive. I can look back at my drawings and place myself back there experiencing the moment. In some respects, it’s a form of escapism and I can return at any chosen time.
And so to the hanging of my final MA exhibition….
The MA exhibition is still on and the final day is Saturday 8th October
http://www.art.mmu.ac.uk/mashow/ Free admission. Opening Times:Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm / Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Culmination or Climax?
So how would I describe my recent work on the MA course? Has it reached a climax?
- the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something
- the peak or highest possible moment related to an ongoing process
Or has there been a culmination?
- the end point or final stage of something I’ve been working toward or something that’s been building up.
- the result of adding everything up and coming to a final conclusion, summary or decision
Whether my current practice is a ‘final stage’ or ‘conclusion’ remains questionable. Thinking back to how little I knew at the beginning of the MA and how much my practice has taught me, makes me aware of how much there is still to learn.
Only by reflecting and looking back, can I truly understand the journey I’ve been on. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward. (Soren Kierkegaard 1843)
I remember the first day of the MA when we were encouraged to embark on a journey that opens up new ways of thinking and doing, we were advised to be ‘available to a transformation of who we are…which compels us to rethink ourselves’ (Butler 1994/1995). I can now recognise a fundamental shift and reshaping of my thinking and my transformative learning has gone beyond any expectations and assumptions.
In summing up my learning, I have learned to question, confront, deconstruct and unpick my practice alongside learning the importance of critically reflecting in action and on action (Donald Schön 1983): to stand back and take time to critically evaluate my practice. As Gray and Malins (2004) describe, it has been a life changing experience.
I will certainly miss the MA and all my colleagues and tutors. Looking back, I have learned that the research experience can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, presenting significant challenges that have taken me out of my comfort zone. I recognize now these feelings are a natural part of the learning process and necessary in order for my practice to move forward. It is learning that has produced a significant impact and fundamental change in approach, which will hopefully go on to affect any subsequent experiences.
So what to the future? An MFA? A PhD? I think first, it’s time to sleep, rest and recuperate and then see where my practice takes me. I would however, like to continue to challenge and extend the boundaries of textile practice and will be continuing with this blog.
I hope you’ll stay with me on my new journey of discovery and learning….