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Pinterest and Hannah Lamb

A social media site that I find extremely helpful, relevant and creative is Pinterest.  It is a kin to a journal/notebook but is even quicker in it's process.  It's a case of creating your own Boards (folders) and putting in there what is relevant for you.  I have been on it for a few years now and it is a site where I feel I am actually being productive on the internet and it leads me to some very exciting artists, designers, work etc.  When I was working on my last piece of work I was using Pinterest a lot to look for techniques that might interest me and also to look back at artists and just things which I had recorded on my Boards from the past.

An artist that was appearing quite often in work I was admiring was British artist, Hannah Lamb.  Hannah lectures part-time at Bradford School of Arts & Media and works mainly in textiles and photography within her own work.  I think her work and techniques are very beautiful - subtle, vulnerable, delicate, experimental and all with a sense of spontaneity.  Her work carries an energy that I am very drawn to. 

'Postcards From Saltaire' by Hannah Lamb - 100 prints using weeds collected from the streets of Saltaire for the Saltaire Arts Trail 2013

Below please find links to Hannah's blog and website.


And lastly my Pinterest page.


Sampling at the Studio

Leading up to Fragmented Body (see below) I was doing a lot of sampling and experimenting in the studio.  I am interested in primitive printing and dyeing techniques where the first few outcomes are usually unknown and I like to treat it similarly to a scientific experiment, recording the process so I know for the future what works and what does not.  I used reactive dye, tea and bleach to create patterns and marks with mixed results, mostly positive and something learned from each one.


The Fragmented Body

This is my most recent piece of work for exhibition.  It is called Fragmented Body and is based on a charcoal life-drawings. I am regularly challenged with how I can combine my drawing and textile work. The most practical solution for me is to see the drawing as one component to a finished piece. I dislike the word finished for an art work as I think one project always leads on to another rendering all work technically unfinished and in process, a new technique or skill learned each time. But for argument sake I am going to call this piece the finished work. The body was the inspiration and starting point, next came the working drawings and then the wire became the material to draw with and eventually the thread so there are then layers of lines involved in the finished piece.

This piece is of a woman's torso, the fabric reflecting skin and the different qualities it takes on over time.  The thread I hope creates movement, shadows and depth on the body, allowing it to take on a life of its own.


The Mechanics of Creativity

When I reach the moment that I know I am in productivity, it offers such clarity and I feel a lightness in my head that before reaching this point was heavy and blocked. I never think I am going to reach this point where I WANT to work and I WANT to produce. At the beginning stages it always seems just to difficult and I have a mental block that nothing is going to happen.

Thankfully I have a fairy godmother in the form of my own Mum. She's wonderful and without me having to say much she offers help and guidance in unexpected ways that open up possibilities for working. This time it was in the form of a Monty Python no less.  I don't even think she's much of a fan....Anyway John Cleese came to the rescue with this wonderful discussion on Creativity (I think it's deserving of a big C) Cleese discusses the psychology of creativity and his experience of it within his own work.

After watching the video, I began to produce and produce. I made myself produce 20 pieces a day for the last three days and possibilities have opened because of that. It wasn't a case that the video offered me ideas for work but more it offered solutions and a kind of 'How to' guide for at least setting yourself up in the right environment for creative work.  I would recommend anyone watch it, whatever your chosen career path.


Response to Writing

I have returned to the learned, excitable and at times daunting world of education.  Now a quarter of the way through an MA in Design History and Material Culture at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin I feel I am acquiring knowledge that is so precious I cannot NOT begin to put it on paper, either in the virtual or the authentic format.

Our second semester of lectures has included a collaborative lecture with our fellow Visual Culture students in the study of MA Art in the Contemporary World.  Our lecturers have included Dr. Declan Long, Dr. Jessica Hemmings and Dr. Lisa Godson.  The lectures, so far, have consisted of group discussion, anecdotes, visual analysis and writing.  The analyzing of imagery, for me, has offered a very fresh approach to our college work. The fact that it is primarily fine art based can really allow imagination to swell and the interpretation of work to be as personal as you allow.  You see what you see! As simplified as that statement may sound it has truth to it.  When given reign to interpret a visual for yourself (particularly if there is an absence of text to distract and detract your brain), you are likely to amaze yourself with what your mind is capable of producing.  As helpful as text can be in certain situations it also allows for a dulling of the mind.  Speaking of 'over texting', we were introduced (again I speak in virtual terms) to Associate Professor of Academic Practice at The University of Auckland, New Zealand Helen Sword by Jessica Hemmings in our second of the lecture series.  Ms Sword is the author of Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard University Press, 2012) and I include a YouTube video of her discussing the content of the publication.

My notes from Ms Sword's inspiring lecture on the venture that is Stylish Academic Writing.

1. Eye-catching title draws you in.

2. Engaging open paragraph.

3. Full of examples.

4. Sense of a story.

5. Always well-crafted sentences. Craft your writing - continuous editing and refining.

6. Always be concerned with communication.

7. Stylish pros.

8. Pleasure in the craft.

9. Creative writing - don't adhere to convention if it doesn't suit you.

10. The importance of reading widely.

11. Concreteness - writers that are most engaging use concrete ideas and examples.

12. The definition of research is the advancement of knowledge or the creation of new generalisable knowledge.

13. Communicating abstract ideas through concrete language. 

14. Concrete terms - the use of theoretic frameworks.

15. An example of concrete terms within abstract speech - Martin Luther King "I have a dream..."

16. Giving the reader the particulars, the visionary and then the abstract. For writers - pay attention and look out for this when both reading and writing. 

17. Choose to be a courageous writer rather than a conventional one.



The punny side of sheep

DAY 6+7/7 Wool Masterclass @ Bergerie National, France

Perhaps this should have been part of Day 1/7, anyway...

La Bergerie Nationale de Rambouillet was created as an institution by Louis XVI (16th !) to become a model farm for the development of innovation and agriculture.  In 1786 the Bergerie acquired the renowned Merino sheep.  In the 19th century this flock came to play an important role in the improvement of sheep wool in many European countries and in the southern hemisphere through the export of its rams as sirens. Today, the Bergerie Nationale is a state domain, located 50km southwest of Paris and occupying 250 hectares of the 1,100 hectare estate.  The beautiful buildings have a strong likeness to Marie-Antoinette's estate at Versailles - my favourite part of Versailles ! I know she certainly visited the Château de Rambouillet (in seeing it apparently she exclaimed 'How could I live in such a gothic toadhouse!') with her husband, whether she made it up to the farm I don't know but I like to think she would have favoured it...

This was our home for the week.

Day 6 and 7 were spent working on our collective blog and we were also introduced to Paris design due LaboPull.  We were split in to groups of 3/4 during the week and each group was given a focus point, a descriptive word which we were to explore:



Elementary Design



______________ ______  _____

Which one was I part of??!


Mix of Materials
These were the words we originally brainstormed as a whole.  When we broke down to our smaller group we tried to dig more out of these words, really explore what stories and ideas could come out of these words.  We were all quite struck with the contrast of handmade/machinemade and this led us to look at more contrasts particularly anthropologically. The idea of place and what this constitutes and what are the connotations of place - rural/urban, city/suburb etc.  and then connecting this back to design we began to look at colour.  What would happen if you combined bright, artificial colours to the countryside ?? We were looking at this in terms of wool and how wool could be promoted to generations (younger in particular) that may not appreciate it's properties as much as older generations would.  How would colour positively alter wool's appeal?? 

We thought about how we could show this through imagery.  We could use photoshop to change the sheep to bright colours thus putting them in the context of the countryside but having the colourful element of the city?  This is what happened...

Some Google/Pinterest searching and our story began to unfold for us.  These sheep have been dyed by farmers, some out of desperation (to prevent thieving), some for decorative purposes (Tartan Day).  So the sheep have gone from being relatively inconspicuous to standing out a mile ! So much more can now be explored on this subject and I don't want to give away to much just yet! Back soon...

And to end this WONDERFUL week below is a photo of all the Irish cailíní in Paris on our final day (8/7 technically !!) Deirdre has been very indiscreetly photoshopped in by yours truly.  Think I'll stick to the wool.....

l-r (Fiona DalySinead Kane, Deirdre Duffy, Fiadh Durham, Ciara Harrison)