Stage review

I wrote this reflection in the week after half-term break but forgot to publish and ended up with it sat in my drafts folder, forgotten. Better late than never!

Looking back at the beginnings of The Broad Street project I have come a long way with my concept. It has been exciting but also challenging to get used to the way of working on Foundation. Previously I have been used to fulfilling criteria on a brief, devising a concept and producing a final piece. However Foundation is designed to prepare us for a more realistic, organic creative process that is far more like the way of working in university education and the professional environment. This means a very open-ended process, constantly developing ideas, working back into them through experimentation and refining. This has helped me to keep my enthusiasm for my ideas and gather inspiration from a broad range of sources, thus blurring the line between ‘college work’ and ‘personal life’. I believe that it’s so important to learn to always be open to ideas and development and constructively question concepts from all angles.

I initially felt stumped by the starting point of Broad Street; it was the first time I had been offered such freedom with concept development. I knew that I wanted to produce work based around social comment and focussed towards more contemporary concerns rather than focussing on history. When we were handed the live brief for the Roughs & Riots articles I had the idea to make my work about the role of alcohol in modern society. From personal experience I have often observed the contrasting atmospheres of Stamford between a pretty historical tourist destination during the day to a nightlife destination at the weekends. On the occasions that I’ve visited Stamford in this context I’ve found it to be quite a hostile environment and certainly as an ‘outside’ observer of drunken behaviour generally scenes can appear almost sinister.
I have always loved comic books and graphic novels and was interested in incorporating visual sequencing into my project. The work of Grayson Perry, someone I’ve always admired, seemed particularly relevant in this context as he has continually visited themes of social norm and cultural expectations. I love the fact that the pre-conceptions of pottery as a craft and a decorative art are completely thrown to the wind in his work and he utilises the medium as another layer of meaning. These two strong influences combined, along with the thrill of my first experiment with the potters wheel, as the idea of creating my own pots.

I was still uncertain of what I wanted to communicate with my idea and was struggling to reach a conclusion in my own head. So I decided instead to discuss my thoughts – with myself. I recorded a video of me talking about my thoughts and feelings relating to my work whilst I was engaged with a practical task. This really helped me to relax and get my thoughts in order and I watched the video back and took notes to summarise my intentions.

As time has gone on I have continued to collate research from primary and secondary sources to inform my work. All of the workshops have provided valuable experience however the ones that I found most inspiring were ceramics, collagraph and fused fibre. I loved the focus on texture in the latter two techniques. Part of my intentions for the aesthetic of my work is to illustrate the sensation of intoxication and the disjointed nature of a drunken memory which I hope to achieve through layering textures and imagery.

For my final pieces I intend to produce three clay pots and two collagraph prints. I have also recently had the idea of producing an assemblage piece, after revisiting the work of Joseph Cornell.

Alongside this project I have been producing work for my life drawing qualification and preparing my UCAS application.
I have drafted, reviewed and am continuing to tweak my personal statement which I have now sent to Tim Silcock, college UCAS advisor, for proof-reading. The other areas of my UCAS profile are complete. I have attended one open day so far, at Manchester School of Art, which was really helpful however I am waiting until I have visited other universities before I decide on my choices. I am still uncertain of what course to choose and so will continue to discuss with peers, tutors and students past & present to gain better insight to inform this decision.
I have photographed my life drawings and a selection of works in the studio ready for an e-portfolio and hope that my final outcomes from Broad Street along with my poster design and a selection of sketchbook pages will all be valuable contributions.
I was really beginning to struggle with the work-load as well as having a job which left me very little time outside of college hours so I made the decision to reduce my employment hours by half which has been a great relief and eased the pressure. I am still aware however that I have a lot to catch up on and must not get complacent. I am passionate about my concept and I want that to be reflected in the quality and depth of my outcomes.
Due to this lack of spare time I have very little in the way of practical experimentation and visual idea development which is something I need to work on. One effort I have made towards this is photographing at night around pubs, clubs and bars. Initially I used my DSLR without flash to remain as inconspicuous as possible. However this resulted in blurry, poorly focussed images and the camera was heavy and bulky to carry around. I didn’t want to get too close in case people reacted badly or the camera got damaged. So I decided to switch to 35mm disposable cameras. This immediately gave me far more freedom and the ability to get up close and snap quick shots as I passed by. I am eager to see the results once the film is developed and to work from these in drawing and print.

Reviewing my progress so far I would say that my strengths are organisation (lots of lists! and prioritising tasks), an open-minded approach to research sources, keeping (reasonably) up to date on my journal, self-led trips to galleries and a good grasp on what is expected of me. Areas that I need to work on are productivity, which could be improved by achieving greater focus by removing distractions, practical experimentation (be less hesitant to try!) and transforming energy spent worrying into productivity. I feel I have demonstrated good problem-solving in confronting the issue of employment, reflection on working practice, choosing disposable cameras rather than digital and reducing the number of pots I hope to produce.

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