Saturday, 20 October 2012

Expectations of an Art School

What is an Art School? On a basic level, a school is obviously an establishment that provides learning and you would believe from the prefix 'art' that it would provide facilities that relate to that subject. But over the years, the methods of teaching art has changed and evolved. From the restrictive Art Academies, all the way through to the relaxed teaching environment of the 1970s.

In the 1970s, the departmental structure of Goldsmiths was abolished, meaning that students were free to attend any art class being held, and they were no longer restricted to a particular subject. My mother started her Art degree in ’74. She said that the classes had no structure to speak of other than half-termly tutorials with a lecturer. They were given set projects but their was no formal teaching as such, so although this created a relaxed atmosphere, for students to find their own creative style, none of the students really knew how well they were doing until they received their final grades. So although my mother achieved a 1st, she believes that was because she was more self-motivated than some of the other students. She also believes that grading was pretty subjective, with no strict guidelines on assessment across the board. The boundaries between student and lecturers was also less formal than they are today. Students and lecturers often socialised with each other in the pub and at parties, where they often continued to discuss art and ideas on art. I all sounds very bohemian and almost more of a sub-culture than being an art student today.

Since then, the departmental structure has been put back into place (although we do have the opportunity to attend the occasional workshops in art areas different to our own) meaning you have to commit to what area of art or design you want to study, I suppose that’s one of the reasons that you can study an Art Foundation course before you start your degree. Also lecturers today have to be much more professional than in the ‘70s. Not only is there strict assessment programmes to work to, for both students and lecturers, (to make grading fair across the board) the divide between student and teacher is very clear, probably owing to college and university safeguarding policies. Perhaps this divide is particularly defined on our course, as we are studying with FE students on our campus, and do not have a Bar on campus (which most Universities have) for HE students and lecturers to socialise in.

I understand the need for clear guidelines on assessment and I think that my course offers me more or less the right balance of structure and creative freedom. But as the only mature student in my year I do feel like I have more in common with my lecturers, and I think it would be beneficial to my 'unconscious' learning to be able to socialise with people that have the same interests in the subject that I am studying.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fashion construction drawing

I found todays fashion drawing workshop with Val really helpful. Although I had to produce fashion illustrations for my projects last year, and had been given suggestions on ways I could do this, we never really had any formal workshop to help us.

I feel that I have made lots of good progress today and now feel a lot more confident in sketching out fashion designs. Last week I was worried that most of the pictures that I had taken wouldn't be suitable to aid me in designing garments. But it is amazing how collaging different architectural details onto a figure can inspire design ideas.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Fashion construction support module

When we were given the options for our support module I was undecided on whether to stick with the construction and textiles options or to maybe take a photography or photoshop option, but after reading about them in more detail I decided to stick with the construction and textiles in the hope it will help me to become more proficient in both of these areas.

During Semester one I will be studying the fashion construction support module, and after today I'm really happy with my decision. I think that this module will help me to build up a really good technical file of construction elements which I will be able to refer back to throughout the next three years of my course. I am also hoping that it will help me gain confidence in pattern cutting and technical drawing, which I have not had much experience of so far.

This morning Val ran through what we would be doing on this support module, and then we made a start on our first samples for our files. I found the different seams reasonably easy to sew from the instructions provided and I was pleased with the results. I think the most valuable thing I learnt today was the names of the different seams and on which type of fabric or garment they are used in and why. I can already see how my technical vocabulary will improve by attending this module. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

First Lecture

My wednesdays will now consist of a series of lectures that will eventually lead to presentations and a 2000 word essay. We will also be completing a personal planning module which aims to help us to organise our study time effectively, encourage reflective learning and to aid us in planning for our future.

Personally,  I struggle with auditory learning. So although I find lectures interesting, I find it difficult to take in and remember everything being said. But after each lecture I understand that we will be able to discuss what was said, as a group, which will hopefully help things sink in and clarify anything I am unsure of.

Our first lecture focused on how we can use a critical approach to interpreting visual images. I think the main gist of it is that an image and its meaning can be affected by three main points:

  • The method/material used to produce the image 
  • The composition of the image itself
  • The intended audience of the image

This blog will make up 60% of my mark for our personal planning module. It should document my personal response to all aspects of my learning throughout this year, be it lectures, studio practise, workshops, presentations or independent learning.

One of the first projects we have been asked to complete is a group report/presentation on one of the four main Fashion Weeks. My group have been allocated London Fashion Week. I think it will be good to start a group project at the beginning of the course, as it will encourage us all (there is 34 in our class) to integrate with each other more than we might if we were left to our own devices.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Walking Through Camulodunum

Our new studio module is called Camulodunum (The Roman name for Colchester). During the module we will design, cut and construct a shirt and explore knit, print, dye, embroidery and embellishment processes to be included on our shirt. Charlie and Val arranged for us to go on an historical walk around Colchester in order for us to draw inspiration from the architecture, landmarks, open spaces and people of the town in which we are studying.

I found the walk quite interesting as I don't live in Colchester and although I study there, I have only ever walked into town a handful of times, just to go to the shops. Although the walk and talk was mainly about the history of the town, we did manage to fit in a quick visit to Firstsite (Colchester's contemporary visual arts centre).

Originally I was hoping that I could use the mini project that we were asked to complete over the summer. After a trip to Mersea I was inspired by the fishing boats and nets, and you can see my visual research for this here. But although Mersea is in the district of Colchester it is not in Colchester town itself, and although I maybe able to loosely link it in with the project brief, my research is very much textile/knit lead and I can't see how I would be able to apply my ideas to a shirt. I think I need to talk about this more to Charlie and Val next monday.

In the meantime I will try and draw inspiration from the photos I took on our walk. I think that the straight lines and angles used in and around Firstsite could work really well in textile design and a fashion construction context e.g. pintucks and pleats.

Can I draw inspiration from the strong history of textile production in Colchester?

I am really drawn to the curly rococo architectural detailing that can be found around Colchester. Obviously, these could be easily be recreated in a textiles design, but I could also research the clothing fashion for the period, and try and include some historical construction details in the shirt.

Then of course there is the Ancient Roman history of Colchester to consider, but this doesn't really inspire me as much as my other ideas.

This was my favourite photo I took of the day, I saw the couple sitting on the bench in Castle Park and thought it looked quite romantic, although the picture I saw with my own eyes was in colour, the picture came out almost in silhouette. It reminds me very much of a Rob Ryan paper cut. It also came to me that the Park theme could also be linked in with the famous Colcestrian, Damon Albarn, and his song Parklife