I chose “Growth” as the theme for my final project as I thought it would be an interesting subject which would allow me to explore different materials and could potentially give a lot of different outcomes. I worked towards my proposal at the beginning of my project by researching artists that I could connect to growth. I started my project by taking my own photographs of my local woodland as I have always been interested in nature and the local environment. From previous projects I have found success in textiles and I knew I wanted to create a textiles based piece and remain in the textiles pathway.
I originally planned to contrast our built environment to the natural world. I wanted to showcase the difference between a townscape and my local woodland. But as the project developed I became more interested in the natural world and how I could reflect my interests in a final piece. The photographs I have taken have influenced my final outcome. Through researching a variety of materials and exploring different techniques I felt I was achieving textiles pieces that had a clear connection to growth.
My focus became clear on natural forms. I found fascination in the natural world because it is forever changing, organic and evolving. I am interested in how it manipulates structures.
I began the project by researching honey comb and the hexagonal shape due to my dad being a bee keeper. I found that hexagons are one of the strongest sustaining shapes in nature. I then begun to look at the Giant’s Causeway which was formed by a volcanic eruption and subsequently left behind hexagon columns. Over time the sea and landscape had caused the columns to weather and change adding new textures and surfaces.
After reading the book “Land” by Antony Gormley and narrated by Jeanette Winterson I was intrigued how his iron figures are forever changing through weathering and erosion. I am interested in how temporary structures are in the world compared to the never dying growth. I have looked at a variety of artists who cover all pathways to gain a better understanding of how other artists chose to reflect the natural world within their practice.
At the beginning of my project I explored printing processes and digital drawings however from these findings I felt that the results were too flat and I didn’t feel that they reflected the organic, natural world realistically. I became disappointed in the results so I began to explore new techniques. I was much more excited by physical scale, shape and form and creating something that would cross between sculpture and textiles.
I then began to explore with yarns and latex to try and make something more three dimensional but again I didn’t feel that this gave the best natural effect. I then tested weave because I could include different textures, colours, materials and I would be able to add wire to shape and manipulate it. I also tried felt making which was very successful as the wool was very malleable and could be manipulated. Felt making worked in harmony with my ideas and I was now able to successfully create pieces that represented natural growth such as lichen, mould or fungi. With felting and weaving I was able to combine different textures, colours and surfaces which would achieve my desired outcome. Dallinga uses felt as her main media when creating artwork. She has heavily influenced me she makes three dimensional pieces that have been inspired by her surroundings. Through exploration and experimentation of these mediums I have developed my skills and technical capability. The process has also given me more of an understanding of time scales. Felt making is a very time consuming process so working towards targets and deadlines that are self-set is essential.
I did a great deal of research and experimentation into the potential of materials to see which would be best for creating a final outcome. Dallinga’s pieces have been photographed in a woodland space and I think it makes the pieces look more effective by placing them directly into context. If I was to develop this project further I would have explored different compositions and placed my experiments in the local environment and recorded the changes the natural world made to my artwork over a period of time.
For my final piece I created my own hexagonal prism plinths. I made them from MDF wood and painted them white to sit in a gallery setting. My hexagon plinths were inspired by my research into the columns of the Giant’s Causeway. Each plinth is a different height to give the appearance of stepping but also the idea of growing upwards. I placed my felted three dimensional pieces over the top of the columns to express my idea of the natural world attaching itself to structures, be them built or natural.
I used felt and weave as the main media in my final piece. I chose felt because of its ability to be manipulated due to the fibre structure of wool. I could create pieces that reflected three dimensional forms in nature. A lot of the artists I researched had created pieces from felt and I was inspired to challenge myself to create three dimensional forms in this way. I also used weave as it allowed me to showcase natural colours. By adding wire to the weave it allowed me to make the weave a growth in its own right. I am really pleased with how I have combined the two main mediums. I added a muslin piece above the plinths which I attached felt to and embellished. This adds another dimension to the piece by creating height. I think I have successfully managed to represent growth in nature and natural organic forms.
The main messages I wanted to convey in my work was the idea of something growing and slowly evolving. I have been fascinated through this project by growths in our world which often go ignored by walkers. I wanted to create something that would create impact. I wanted to create the sense of growth. Personally, I think I have achieved this by starting my piece on the floor and working upwards. Additionally, when setting my space in the exhibition. Other students where commenting on my work saying that it reminded them of forests, swamps and woodland.
Overall I am pleased with my final outcome I think my favourite part is one of the side walls on the biggest plinth. As my piece is centred in the room it meant then when making the piece I had to consider it from all angles. This was difficult as it was hard to work on different areas and see the piece at the same time. However, I am really pleased with how it looks. I attached flat felt pieces to the walls that I had gathered. I added wire to them and made the effect of stacked fungi. I think this looks really effective and that is the area I am most pleased with. I additionally like the felt vessels as they add height to the piece and create the look of growth. I think where I have added felt beading and yarns spilling out of felt look effective and they represent nature well. By adding felt beads it has added different shape and texture to the piece and areas of brighter colour which will make a viewer look around the piece. My weave has created a foundation for the piece. The colours pull the story together and provide visual harmony.
If I could change anything I would have made more felt to cover more of the floor area leading up to the plinths. Additionally, with more time I would have taken the piece outdoors and photographed it in different environments. I think it would have been interesting to take photographs of it in my local woodland as it would put the piece in context. It would have also been interesting to see if nature changed the piece over time and I could have possibly done a time lapse video. However, this shows there is more potential in the piece and something I will explore further.
I chose to present my final piece on the floor and have a hanging element above the piece. I think this has been successful as it relates to my idea of the Giant’s Causeway. Plus, by starting from the floor it has allowed me to work upwards creating height and the appearance of growth. I think my final piece and research throughout the project has fulfilled my initial proposal as I have created a textiles based outcome. I have changed direction slightly as I didn’t focus on the build environment. However, I do not regret this decision as my work evolved I became more focused on the natural world and I am happy with the outcome. I think I have explored growth throughout my project and through the mediums I have chosen I have successfully created a piece which demonstrates my findings.