Reflections in preparation for completing Assessment Criteria – ‘Context’.

Thoughts arising from a Study Day in Bristol, Spring 2017, with OCA Tutor, Neil Musson (1) (2).  This was an open Study Day organised by the OCA South West Group.  We were a mix of textilers, artists and photographers.

I want to write about noticing things without being aware of doing so, and then creating a similar pattern, forgetting where the idea has come from.

NM started the day off by describing how his working practice developed and, while he did so, I doodled in my sketchbook, glancing at the slideshow he brought with him. ( I remember much more by sketching than by writing down words).  So, at the very simplest – I started off with an indication of NM’s description of a drawing made while he was a student and how his work developed and culminated in huge  projects around the world, often including structures of light and shade.

The first sketch is below.  My first reflection, looking back, is how I unconsciously drew (lower left) an outline of caddis fly larvae, one of my original ideas way back at the start of the course (3).  I rejected it as too literal, it never even got as far as being written down, although the larvae were drawn in my sketchbook.  Secondly those lines to the lower left are also similar to the wrapped sticks and cords I have made throughout the course.  These patterns seem to feature a lot  in my samples.

IMG_0858 (Edited)
Drawing made into sketchbook during NM’s talk about his own artistic timeline.  Digitally enhanced for clarity.

NM also described  a two day project undertaken between larger pieces of work in Mexico, 2015. Transformation (4)  and  Video (5)

In response I made this drawing, below. The strong line represents the cracks in the floor which prompted the design (4), the neon tubes and debris which make up the sculpture are represented by another caddis fly type shape and the curving line represents the tunnel (in my mind this was a tunnel not a corridor, a bit like the London Underground).  It is also a nod towards some coccoon like shapes seen during the slide show.  I was pleased with this drawing.  It was digitally enhanced, first to represent the red of the original installation and secondly in mottled grey, which pleases me.  I see a massive boat emerging with dissecting lines which may or may not be breaking it up.  I also see the lines on Marazion beach which I drew later in 2016, and the sense of not knowing whether things are pulling apart or coming together.  My broken plaster tile samples, with cracks mended by stitch, are very relevant here Sample 5. (6)

IMG_0856 (Edited)
Second drawing made during NM’s talk, digitally enhanced for clarity
Original unenhanced sketchbook drawing made during NM’s talk



So:  having written what I have, above, and arrived at the end of the course I realise how much I have actually been influenced by artists, but am not always aware of being so influenced.  I can also see how it is possible for something completely new to pop out of your head and wave at you, like my new image, yet someone casually looking at it would probably be very puzzled.  How would I explain my image; would I just talk about the satisfying lines and materials or would I discuss the process of building:breaking:healing?  Of self-sabotage/re-creation?  All things to ponder for the future.

References and Notes

  1. Neil Musson OCA profile
  2.  (Coincidentally, Neil is my tutor)
  3. I used to co-run a nature group for children and one thing that fascinated everyone was the way caddis fly larvae build themselves ” little portable houses” using their surrounding material in streams of water.
  4. We are OCA, 8th March 2016
  5. Musson, N and Retallick, J.  Transformation 01.  Galeria Thomas Flechel, Mexico City, 2016.  Many thanks to Neil Musson for permission to reproduce this.   Musson Transformation Mexico
  6. Sample 5

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