Contextual studies, Reflective commentary

4 June 2016

Textiles 1: Exploring ideas – Assignment 4

Reflective commentary

Now that I have completed assignment 4, I can appreciate just how much more there is to understanding a piece of art than just simply describing it and stating whether it appeals to my taste. For instance: what motivates artists/designers to work in a particular style, with certain materials, and with or against a certain narrative? Were they pioneers or followers?

In stage 1 of the first Project (researching from the set list), I initially found it difficult to know where to focus, and how to provide sufficient detail without being overwhelmed by the volume of literature. I developed a structure which helped me to achieve a balance between overview and depth, and as a consequence I feel that I have a good working knowledge of each of the artists. I also decided to annotate the information which I had collected, because it is the process of collating and summarising that allows me to formulate mental links, rationalise arguments, codify ideas and draw conclusions.

The in-depth study for stage 2 was tricky because the limit of 2000 words meant I had to be highly selective about what to include and what to omit. Necessarily, my investigation of Judy Chicago focused on her most well-known work, “The Dinner Party”. This was because of the controversy it caused, its impact on feminist art, and art made by women. In hindsight, maybe I should have focused more on the textiles element of the piece, and perhaps been more specific about collaboration and the timing and context of criticism?

In stage 3, the questions posed by the course notes stretched me to widen my thinking on works of art/design. They we’re illuminating and inspiring and will certainly form the basis of any future research or review. I was able to apply this approach to my review of a medieval retable in Thornham Parva church and Jonathan Lloyd’s “Retable in dazzle camouflage”; a woodcut print inspired by he medieval painting.

At the beginning of June I was able to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Of special interest was a sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz “Ten Seated figures” (2010). Having researched her work for Project 1 it was enlightening to be able to see one of her sculptures in real life. The park also features the sculptures of some of the leading artists of the 20th century, including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Anthony Gormley, Elisabeth Frink, and many others, including major  exhibitions by KAWS and Not Vital.

For Project 2, I repeated the general research and questions on specific artworks using artists of my choice. A general observation is that many artists/designers collaborated closely with their husbands (for example Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, Anni Albers and Lucienne Day and Sonia Delaunay). There has been a tendency for the art establishment and public to overlook the skills and achievements of all these women; a fact which is only properly being recognised now, as we move into the 21st century. 


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