Below is a copy of my tutor feedback. Reading it for the first time, I felt deflated and rather defensive. I'd been happy with the effort I'd put into this assignment and the work I'd sent. All I could see was where I was lacking, rather than anything I had done well. However, after a Christmas break, I have much better perspective. It's time to move on, accept the pointers for the final assignment (due end of Jan), highlight the positives and realise that there are actually plenty of comments to be very pleased about!
'A group of work which as usual is full of experiment with materials and process. You have pushed your use of existing source material, but taken on board my comments on the need to keep a day to day sketchbook. Your written research, and recording of visits to exhibitions continues to be more to the point, with references to your own practice. However, you only sent a group of samples in plastic sleeves, with no accompanying explanation, other than labels, which worries me at this stage. It gives the impression that you are still relying on your blog to explain how your project is developing, rather than a series of A3 sheets or workbook. Try to rely less on your blog and spend more time on presentation.'
Assessment potential 'I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.
I am concerned mainly that although I have asked a couple of times to see your A3 workbook to see how you are presenting the story of the development of your project, once again, you haven’t sent it. It is difficult to advise you if I am only seeing an odd page on the blog.
• By now you should have a working notebook for each assignment, with visuals mounted on each page, not in plastic sleeves.
• Make sure you have annotated each sample to give some explanation of what it is about, where it fits in the scheme of things. Think telling a story. Number the page and link this to any further explanation in the blog. You must not simply rely on the blog to explain the work you have done, the way your idea has evolved. There is limited time in assessment for things to be looked at and for looking at blogs. (I read all your blog because the samples alone did not explain how your ideas are progressing.)
• Show clearly in your working notebook how you have developed ideas, taken risks. (Again, I had to look in your blog to find out. You can't expect the assessors to guess.)
• Note: Your ‘working notebook can of course be separate sheets, but make sure they are attached together in a way which is easy to navigate.
• Continue to find ways of extracting visual information through drawing, colour notes, diagrams and photography'
I should have sent a better explanation to my tutor on how I was sending my work. Previously she has asked to see all of my work rather than a representative sample so here I'd sent every exercise in order, all cross-referenced with a corresponding blog post. (For assessment I'll select the best work to attach directly to the mount board designed as a story board.)
I do find I am increasingly relying on my blog, but I hadn't thought this a negative thing. Now that I post regularly in relation to each exercise, it helps to clarify my thoughts and as I add more of my images to it, I suppose it has almost become a 'working notebook'. For assignment four, the exercises are mainly practical, experimental and largely intuitive: making braids, making a grid structure, weaving techniques etc, so there is far less in the way of design compared to previous assignments. It made sense to me to note the information I'd collected directly onto the blog post. I do have an A5 notebook I take everywhere. It's full of thoughts I scribble as they come to me. Unfortunately I can't seem to make it neat and beautiful like other people can and it seems like unnecessary duplication to rewrite parts legibly, then reflect again on the blog.
However, I can definitely see the benefit of the separate workbook I have for Assignment 5, where the brief is open and I need somewhere to draw, write and develop related ideas. Tonight at the Embroiderer's Guild, we had a talk by a recent graduate of Birmingham University who studied Fashion, specialising in Embroidery. It was extremely interesting to hear her talk about studying a related degree in a physical university. She had brought examples of her work and how it was presented, with a workbook for each project, each beginning with the brief stuck onto the first page and ending with illustrated examples on how she visualised the final sample being viewed e.g. if it's a piece of textile art, how it might be viewed or framed. The drawings and books themselves were not always beautiful, but it was certainly easy to follow the journey of her ideas from start to finish, from her images and the written notes she made as she and her tutor evaluated how the project was developing. Tonight it was proved to me how my tutor's above advice is correct.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
This assignment is about creating combining fibres, colours and textures to create tactile surfaces, rather than working into existing surfaces. The focus should be on exploring experimental construction forms using processes such as interlacing, weaving, plaiting and or knotting of yarns, ribbons, torn strips of paper or fabric, plant fibre, wire, etc.
'My first impressions from what you sent was that it was inadequately presented. Then, looking at your blog I realized that you worked very hard – going through all the exercises methodically, without pre conceived ideas as to what would result. I could see that you were finding ways of moving beyond simply experimenting and what I particularly liked was the way in which your practice began to be informed by your research and visits to exhibitions. Later, (e.g.in exercise 4) you began to see how ideas you were exploring for your theme book could be linked to this project. (Your blog reveals all this, but as yet I haven’t seen much of your theme book – only odd pages in the blog, - but my impression from is that you are beginning to develop a personal line of enquiry.'
Analysing colour, texture and proportion
'Here you are asked to work both intuitively and objectively from images and to abstract out colours and tones of colours using paint then yarns, and I can see from the one sheet you sent me, and images from your blog, that this way of working is productive for you.
Particularly interesting was the page in your blog showing interpretation of the rust experiments, because this shows that you are more and more beginning to bring into the exercises your own particular interests (in this case your line of enquiry about rust for your theme book). Again, you are reflecting on your research, and letting it inform your design judgements. E.g. After writing about Kaffe Fassett in my last Research Point, I found myself often thinking back to how he mixes new shades by combining what he has available.'
PROJECT 8 Exploring the quality of Yarns and experiment with different ways of making structures
You are asked here to show evidence of awareness of different fibres, weights and qualities, including found and recycled yarns and then to undertake various explorations (weaving, braiding, binding, interlacing).
'You produced a good selection of experimental work. In ex. 3, once again, you were able to refer back to an exhibition you had seen and recorded, ( Liberty and Anarchy) to help you to solve your practical problems, but at the same time you were trying to understand how the artist - Savvas - constructed his pieces.'
The objective, here is to reinforce good practice in working method and enable you to develop personal design ideas around organization and colour. In stage 3 you are asked to experiment with different structures, using different yarns, colours, textures, to tear found materials such as rags, muslin, lace, and to combine different effects. In Stage 4 you are asked to develop visual ideas, making use of work from stages one and two, into a large woven sample.
'You say here that you had already made windings, but wanted to push the colour proportions and textural quality a bit further, so made more. Also the image I wanted to use was the same as I'd used in Feltmaking Experiments and one I'm considering developing for my final project. I thought that the more I study this image and capture it in varying techniques, the more closely I'll be observing and understanding it before my final piece.
Don't simply be content to interpret an image in different materials. Try to push a piece further – take risks – let it change beyond recognition. (Check out how Matisse’s four sculptures of a woman’s back changed radically from one to the next) Cut up and re-make.'
I was a bit confused by this feedback as I thought I'd followed the instructions for the approach I'd selected to the letter. Sample 2 involves storyboards and design, but I'd chosen the first option, which is more about developing technical skills: how to transfer an image into tapestry weaving by making and following a cartoon. The design decisions to make read more about selecting the right colours and textures and techniques to interpret the image and its surface textures but there are no comments on how well I did this. (I should probably check the course manual online to make sure my paper version is up to date as I started the course a good while ago!)
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
'You sent a small sketchbook. I am glad you took on board my comment about how you needed to try to do some objective drawing. However, you need to be less descriptive in your drawing and more analytical. Use a viewing frame more, Make diagrams, scribble, notes, quick drawings, slow ones, take several photos of one object from different angles. I have seen evidence that you are looking and recording with camera, but only in your blog so far.'
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
'A well developed and illustrated learning log.
For Research Point you were to investigate the work of the textile artist and to reflect on textile art in relation to the other arts such as painting or sculpture. How far has it been accepted. Choose 2 textile artists – describe their work and also consider how they have used the above elements to express the concepts behind their work.
Chosen textile artists Kaffe Fassett/Sue Reno (Blog Entry Thursday, 19 September 2013)
I was interested here in the way you began to observe and question how artists and designers describe and title themselves, whether the titles suggest that they see themselves as artists, designers, or makers. I felt it made you look more carefully at the visual language in the work. (You need to keep this in mind in the future when researching). Try to be less descriptive of technique and more about the visual language. (How specifically have your two chosen artists used colour. E.g. Look back at the things you discovered about colour and composition in assignment 2 – that there are ways of putting colour together which make your eye slide over them easily promoting ‘harmony’ or juxtaposing particular colours so they seem brighter, or duller. Also, how dynamic was movement in the composition, and how was it achieved. Your increasing sensitivity to colour is admirable, but try to increase the objectivity of how visual language is used in the work you are seeing, then link it to how you are resolving your own problems.'
'In terms of weaving:
Have a look at Riitta-Liisa Haavisto who works with luscious colour tapestries and her daughter Anna-Riita Haavisto (link to online info :
Also Joan Baxter, who works with landscape in tapestry'http://Joanbaxter.com
Pointers for the next assignment
'Your next assignment is the last. The theme book itself, showing research, prep, experiment and backup development work for this final project is a vital part of the assignment. Also, You will have to design your own experiments. Don’t simply do one experiment around an idea – you need to get used to doing lots of different ones before deciding on a particular technique. Allow the idea to evolve. Try to think visually as much as possible in your sketchbook; that is scribbling out ideas from your head; jotting down rough ideas for designs and making colour notes.'