Do your finished samples fulfill your expectations? To what extent do they reflect the initial research that you undertook for this assignment?
The finished samples were a complete surprise to me. I had no concept of what I would produce from the outset and was pleased I was able to surrender to the process. Even when the idea of producing a corset came to me I never envisaged that I would in fact be lead to another idea for a finished item. I was thrilled with the samples especially with the hanging panels which were a complete departure from anything I would have thought up. I think they conveyed the emotional connection and empathy I had discovered during my research. I feel that because the research was mostly words as in census forms etc. thus I had no obvious vehicle for producing something visual. This helped to push me towards an outcome without preconceived ideas. It was also a tussle for me mentally to get from research to visual piece because of this. I set out to explore what my tribe and cultural background was and I do know I managed to accomplish this. The process allowed me to then look for ways of expressing the emotions the research had stirred in me.
Can you see a clear line of progression from source material to preliminary ideas and finished samples or did you have to change direction at any point?
I personally feel you can see clearly my progression from the source material. I will obviously welcome any constructive thoughts on this point. I am uncertain as to whether it can be seen where I have changed direction or begun to explore new ideas as they came to me. I look for advice on this. My initial thoughts are that you can, but that is me looking at it all with additional knowledge of my work. The first place I had to change direction was in researching the Kitson arm of the family, when I could not get to any museums that had items related to their life as gypsies. I found this fundamental to me knowing how their lives must be. I then had to look to other branches of ancestry to research. I do have the beginnings of work I can pick up at any time though.
Did you make the right choices and decisions when selecting and developing your ideas? If not, what would you change and how might that alter the outcome?
The choices I made in selecting ideas I wanted to work on was completely organic and came from how and where I was stimulated to record my own feelings in response to my research. I am not sure I would change anything as it has been a wonderful exercise in not only getting lost in the process, it was because I was in completely new territory as far as research goes. Ordinarily I would start from something which is visual, an artefact or image, which brings initial thoughts also visual. With the type of research I undertook, I was starved of such stimulus from the outset. I now see another way of conducting research, one which causes me to react solely to emotions which have been stirred inside me. I am overjoyed that I have the experience of listening to my reactions and beginning to find ways of expressing them.
In choosing an idea from which I could design a product I was working towards the corset making. I had come to the idea even before I had gone back to the course to see what my next moves should be. It was something that I had begun to have a passion for so I was pleased I could utilise this idea and run with it.
The conceptual piece again I had stumbled upon whilst playing around with samples and images I had collected. I would never have thought of approaching such a method for expression as the hanging panels and also the work of darning out unpleasant life experiences. This took me again deep into the emotions that had been stirred because of the research. Part of me was unsure if I had done enough as the pieces had simple darning added into the piece. Had I done enough embroidery or applied myself enough. I feel I had many questions about its adequacy because it was a new process for me. Overall I am proud of the work as I know that if I had seen the work produced by someone else, I would be moved by it.
How important was the choice of material in terms of determining the qualities that you achieved?
I feel that the choice of the loosely woven cotton, which had a transparency and delicacy to it was the best for both projects. It alluded to the fragility of life and also allowed me to work with the idea of having images or text beneath it to express the thoughts of secrecy and hidden taboos. I was able to use calico to give the cotton a firm basis for the corset but also to present a fabric that was basic a utilitarian again, I saw this as introducing the idea of being stripped to the basic needs in life’s circumstances with regards to Helena’s demise to the workhouse and into servitude.
How did your choice of colours contribute to the overall results?
I chose the plain white fabric as not only did it prove the base vehicle for printing on but it also had the traditional thought of purity. Helena’s life was full of highs and lows and, the fact that she spent time in the workhouse through circumstances out of her control I felt the white expressed her innocence through her trials.
Did you try the brainstorming exercise? If so, did you find it useful?
I did try the brainstorming idea. I reached a point in my research when I was awash with words, facts and many printed documents and yet I had no ideas of any way I could create a piece of work from it. I then took a piece of paper and noted down all the information I had on Helena and kept reducing it until I got a few bullet points I wanted to express somehow. I would definitely use this method again if I found I was lost in the research or in fact stuck at any point.