I started this module full of gusto – as usual – I thought it was an easy brief working with pattern from a man-made landscape. I began using my photographs to produce resource materials and the patterns were easy to find and work with but, I had an empty feeling in my gut about what I was doing. I knew I wasn’t challenging myself with what I was doing. Unless I am grappling with something new I don’t feel I am doing my best. I’m not sure I want to ‘unpick’ this thought but, I am wanting to push myself completely with my studies and if I feel like I’m coasting I worry I am not investing in me enough. Anyway, I decided to look for the stretch which took me to looking at the extremes man goes to change their own personal landscape. This took me through the tattoos, body piercings, cosmetic surgery and finally to female genital mutilation. An extremely challenging subject in itself but then I had to create some pattern so I would meet the brief.
What I have found is that my ease in finding patterns was challenged by the subject in a way I hadn’t envisaged. I found that it wasn’t the pattern that occupied my mind but the situation or place where the pattern would be. What would be the right place to put the images I had found and wished to use? They weren’t appropriate to use as a scarf, table linen or clothing. The print needed to be situated in the right place. This took me to thinking about relevance, reverence to the subject and appropriateness of the prints placing. Where I began with buildings, the print pattern could have gone anywhere, it was simply a pattern with no meaning. With this subject I had to place the pattern – though it was a simple pattern – in a location that was an intrinsic component of the piece.
I wrestled not only with this but also with my confidence at being able to handle this subject and tie it into the course brief. I often thought I should’ve stuck with the buildings and the patterns I had started to develop, but I knew for myself I had to work through the issues I had in order to feel that I had challenged myself.
I finally felt that a simple border on a simple christening gown should be how I presented the print. I felt it would support the work in 2 ways;
Firstly you see a small gown and think of innocence, purity and vulnerability juxtapose this with the pattern printed in blood, denoting the often hidden barbaric act of F.G.M which is often undertaken by babies who would be small enough to wear the gown.
Secondly the mix of a Victorian gown, alluding to British cultural/ceremonial history and the print of current cities in England where recent high incidents of reported F.G.M have been recorded, brings notice of the practice of F.G.M that has being introduced into our cities and the British citizens who have endured F.G.M.
I feel I have responded well to the challenge I presented myself and, I am satisfied with the result of my labours. I could’ve taken the route of presenting a variety of screen printed designs that would grace any manner of household linens or clothing, but instead I through ignorance, ended up down the route of exploring the relevance and importance of the space/place or item that a design may end up on. Thus I found I chanced on what was an incredibly important exercise.
I did also have a further idea of developing the idea by printing onto a white table runner on which I would embroider in white cotton the outlines of English cities, and the number of reported incidents of F.G.M. This idea has been marked for possible future development.