Tutor report Part 1

Overall Comments

Sue, you have made a considered and very positive start to Exploring Ideas. You have worked carefully, investigating in depth historical lineage, methodically collecting and compiling a wealth of inspirational research. This body of research has led to experimenting with a variety of techniques, applications and materials to create conceptual ideas, samples and textile artworks. Sketchbooks contain testing, sketching, collage, print, research including notes and annotation. You have documented this emotional personal journey of discovery via your excellent on-­‐line learning log. Well, done.

Assessment potential (after Assignment 1)

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Sue, you clearly used the body of research to inspire ideas and concepts, made innovative textile samples and utilised the research material within the actual work. I am particularly excited about the concept of darning and mending. Here, you darned over the faces of images that represented times in Helena’s life that she theoretically wanted to disappear. I think of darning, mending or patching as a forgotten skill. This wonderful art of mending perhaps evokes repairing of emotion or giving life to something, loving care of a worn garment. Something from a bygone era – as today we just discard or throw away. Therefore, the ‘Darning Helper’ is a really interesting tool!

You have used fabric as a medium to express the hidden aspects of Helena’s life via layering gauzes. The realities are perhaps distorted via the transparencies, as you cannot fully know the whole truth. It is great to see you really considering fabrics, material lineage as a way to convey history. Calico used because of its composition, weave and durability. You have explored drawing on fabric, embroidering text, collage (census forms & marriage certificates), photographs and printing on fabric. The constructed corset panels include darned areas evoking the period of dress during Helena’s life. You experimented with various colours via ‘word’ on the computer printing onto silk and calico.

Final selected designs ideas and concepts include:

The Victorian Mourning Cape purchased on EBay. This historic garment led you to consider using this as a vehicle to tell Helena’s story or perhaps create a 21st Century mourning piece. You created a sample including printed documents, beadwork, hand stitching and an antique clasp. This effectively conveys messages from the past in a sensory, contemporary manner. The antique cape is beautiful in its present state of wear with missing beads, faded fabric and tired lace. Perhaps you could consider thinking about this decomposition. The splendor of time ingraining and wearing imprints upon garments or artifacts, these then become transmitters of history. Perhaps the missing pieces of beadwork and lace are significant reflecting Helena’s story that has gaps. Could you consider creating an artwork that is decayed, distressed with missing pieces within it?

Images Layered As A Book:

Again this is a lovely conceptual idea. Could Helena’s life be transfigured into a cloth book? The gauze fabrics distort the images and text, this reflecting and how her life was transformed from relative affluence to poverty within the workhouse. Consider revisiting the tea stained samples. Stains evoke the concept of us not being able to wash away past experiences. It is often said, “It was a stain on his character”. Could this book be stained with memories that cannot be erased?

Printed Panels:

The conceptual idea of having large scale hanging panels is interesting and exciting. Again you could possibly consider extending some of your experiments. Perhaps include large darned areas, stains, embroidery, lace, layering transparencies to distort images and text.

Sue, you have a highly effective grasp of ideas and communication of those ideas. The work is presented in a professional manner showing strong judgement. I would encourage you to perhaps take a few more risks within the work. Extend experimentation & exploration of materials; push the boundaries of a technique or application. I could certainly see the darning, mending & staining go further.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Within Part 1, Cultural Fusions, Sketchbook 3 you have evidenced a body of work that is strongly creative, takes risks with many imaginative and successful outcomes with a clear identifiable personal voice. Here, you have evidenced a body of work incorporating many techniques and applications including: mono print, collage, hand and machine embroidery. Within this sketchbook you are free in expression, experimentation and exploration.

In particularly the fragmented collage pieces are very successful. The interpretation into cloth (squares, stitched in rows) is also very affective. I could imagine your historic photographs fragmented in such a way. The fluid spaces giving rise to the notion of lost memories.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays


It is evident that this has been an emotional journey, as you researched your own ancestry and lineage. Firstly being drawn to your mother’s grandfather William Kitson who was a potter and came from the Romany community travelling in a traditional wooden Vardar. Looking at your ancestry led to looking at your father’s lineage. Here, you found a rich tapestry of human struggle including a great grandfather James Kinnear, who was an inventor involved in designing prosthetic limbs, his wife Helena who sadly was at one time living in the workhouse with her daughter.

You truly threw yourself into discovering as much as possible relating to the life and times of your predecessors. Including scouring sites such as ancestry.co.uk, darning & mending, the Romany Community, fashion 1870 – 1880, prosthetics, and workhouses including corresponding with Lyn Howsan who wrote about Firvale Workhouse. Here, you document study visits to: The Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, Lynda Benglis at the Hepworth Gallery, Tabitha Moses (Moses used human bones to build a limb using cotton fabric, sawdust & hand embroidery), Investment at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool, plus visiting the grave yard where your great grandparents are buried.

Many books and articles are listed too including a paper written about the textile artist Beth Barron relating to ‘telling stories’ via textile artworks and The Corset, a Cultural History by Valarie Steele.

You have documented this voyage of discovery via in-­‐depth writing on your on-­‐line learning log. Here, you have also included personal reflection; revisiting work that you felt was relevant (the white embroidered piece – made from donated fabric – and created whilst you were in psychotherapy – navigation of life). This evidences you are highly articulate and self aware, having extensively researched, therefore demonstrating a highly developed intellectual understanding.

Suggested reading/viewing


Cloth and Memory Exhibition (Salt Mill) http://www.clothandmemory.com/
Lost in Lace (Curated by Gail Baxter) At the Gas Hall, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery http://lostinlace.org.uk/artists Artist
Anslem Keifer (who has an interest in materials that decay over time https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/anselms-alchemy http://www.saatchigallery.com/aipe/anselm_kiefer.htm
Anne Wilson (her series ‘Topologies’ – using deconstructed black lace) http://www.annewilsonartist.com/walkthrough.html
Transition & Influence (University for the Creative Arts) http://transitionandinfluence.com/gallery/home.html
Fibre Arts: (Great article) http://www.fiberarts.com/article_archive/reviews/group/throughthesurface.asp
Claire Barber (text) http://www.directdesign.co.uk/testDD/transition_gallery/clairebarber.html Louise Bourgeois – The Fabric Works
http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/743/louise‐bourgeois-the‐fabric works/view/
Mawra Tahreem (Emotions, Thoughts and Experiments)

• Quinn, Bradley, (2009), Textile Designers The Cutting Edge. London, Laurence King Publishing, Hudson.
• Celant, Germano, (2010), Louise Bourgeois The Fabric Works. Milan, Italy, Skira Editore S.P.A.
• Impey, Sarah, (2014) Text in Textile Art. Batsford Ltd. ISBN: 9781849940429

Pointers for the next assignment:

  • Maintain your excellent working practices.
    • Consider extending the ideas & concepts of: mending, darning, staining & patching.
    • Take risks within your ideas & concepts for final samples.
    • Perhaps capture elements of your exploration & experimentation in Sketchbook 3 with the ideas you have for finished pieces.
    • Consider refining your research area to one or two elements and then pushing all the possibilities & boundaries of that inspirational material.

Well, done Sue, I look forward to your next assignment. You have a wealth of research here that I think will feed wonderful ideas for future projects.



One thought on “Tutor report Part 1

  1. Sue Burgess Post author

    Hi Sally, thank you and yes you are right I was pleased. I’m loving my studies and challenging myself at each step. Keep in touch so we can share our experiences.



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