Friday, June 18, 2010

The student v the artist

My blog of a week ago, posted June 11, titled A Powerful Tool gendered a couple of very good comment responses. This week I have been giving these some thought, and would now like to offer the following:

When one is a student in a specific line of study with an eventual outcome of achieving a qualification, one has to work within the parameters of the established course of study. The tutor is also bound by this!

The basis of any course is to learn, to learn how to accomplish new skills and ideas. Any hands-on, practical learning, will involve lots of experimenting and samples. Achieving major assignments can become a daunting task, not so much because you haven't yet mastered all the skills, but mostly I suspect because the theme/topic given is not your own choice, and you have to get your head around what you must try to achieve. This skill is very important if you plan to go on to employment, or work on commissions, where the client's requirements are paramount.

However, if you are an artist, you are expected to find your own visual voice, and the approach is quite different. The way you have worked during studies needs to be abandoned. You should have enough skills to get on with 'it'. Experimenting and sampling is still valid, but not to the same extent as when being a student. In fact, I suspect that too much sampling is a hindrance, meaning that an outcome when sampling may be successful, but then incredibly hard to achieve again. This can result in unease and disapointment. Sometimes it is best just to go with it, do it, and live with the result. Start again if necessary.

I hope this helps.

Yes, I have started on my next piece. I have drawn some gestural lines in black pigment/paint. While the paint is still wet I have spritz parts with clear water which softens the lines and adds some interest.

A house.....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Costume and Textile Association Conference

This last weekend I attended the 9th Annual Symposium of the Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand, held at TheNewDowse, Lower Hutt. I didn't need any encouragement to register, it was great to have such an event in my home town. About 120 people attended, many from the greater Wellington area, but others from Australia and the USA. This conference was centred around research and conservation practices rather than hands-on.

During a fairly intense weekend we had a programme of 19 presentations. The conference title was Hanging By A Thread and many papers referenced the survival of textiles (and people) in dire circumstances such as war time, Antarctic exploration, and lives of poverty.

Specific topics of interest (to me) included the stitching of Maori dog skins (these dogs are now extinct) in pre-European times; the resurrection of Cambodian weaving; German paper textiles of WW1; the emptying of an old poof (hassock) filled with remnants of torn and mended clothing from the family who owned it, and the stories they engendered; the fight for survival in WW2 and post war Germany; making it last and work in early Antarctic expeditions; replicating a lost carpet in its original style produced in the 1860's for Victoria Mansion USA; the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne; a light-hearted look at keeping a stash (knitting wools, fabrics etc); and masculinity and the knitting pattern; plus much more.

Such a lot of wonderful information and food for thought. It was a well organised weekend and great to catch up with many people I already knew, and to meet many more. Next year this conference is to be in Christchurch. Stay tuned!

Natalie Cadenhead, Curator of Antarctic and Canterbury Social History, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, and Clare Plug, recipient of Antarctic Artist Fellowship, 2006/7, enjoying a light-hearted moment.

Where have they all gone?

Ahhh... its lunch time.