Entering an unfamiliar place and striking up a conversation is always a challenge, but what if it’s a place you feel you know and a conversation you would love to have. I have suddenly gone shy!
My conversation with the top of the land has always been how can I maintain the narrow pathway, keeping it open for personal use, honouring my fond historical memories of the owner of the farm, who I purchased the land from, driving their animals from the farm, situated by this piece of land, to the fields at the other end. Mother Nature quickly assumes the rights of this pathway should I not keep up this conversation.
Harvesting, rather than removing, pushing back the boundary of the overgrown path. Gently and lightly re establishing the footsteps. The copious amounts of vegetative material collected, with resources, tested, sampled and analysed.
A week later and only halfway along this top boundary, I began to realise a process of creative dialogue has been established.
With the first module of my MA in….I have begun to give structure to my investigations and these reflections will form part of that process. The areas of the land that quite literarily ‘draw’ me to them are the wooded areas. Whilst very narrow areas they are situated on the periphery of the land…. The boundaries. This got me thinking about boundaries. What are they made up of? How many are there seen and unseen, visible or hidden?
I have set my own clear boundaries within the use of this land. To only farm using organic principles, to keep low stocked animals, grow crops resourcefully and to be mindful of structures I create being temporary and biodegradable. Being an artist, I continued working creating boundaries; with the materials and processes I use. Resourceful materials grown such as flax, plants for colour, foraged on the land like acorns, nettles and achillea or with animals I keep to provide fibres like mohair from my 3 beautiful angora goats. This led me onto to consider my own personal boundaries….not always so boundaried.
We create boundaries to mark ‘our’ land. This piece of land has a fence around it. Supposedly separating this piece from ‘other’ pieces. Yet within the land itself, boundaries are created, microcosms separated. How are they separated? Who or what separated them? Many boundaries are created by different criteria. Strayer et al(2003), Cadenesso et al (2003) and Kolasso (2014) suggest defining that criteria is necessary to consider an ‘investigation’ of the boundaries. Cadenesso stresses the importance of specifying the ‘boundary’ that is under investigation by considering three areas: the boundary itself but also the ‘patch’ that lies beyond and the ‘flow’ between them. This does make sense as it isn’t always clear where the demarcation is, it’s not always clear, there are, as we know, grey or in this case ‘green’ areas. How does one affect the other? Cadenesso also suggests that there is a hierarchal structure within these areas. The type of flow between the two is affected by the materials, the energy, organisms and the information transferred for example. Both the boundary and the patch have there own unique architecture and composition. What makes them different?
Nature creates boundaries of her own.
Passionate about nature and the impact as humans we have on the environment: What boundaries should be in place to safeguard this relationship? How does nature create her own boundaries?
There’s a lot to think about.
Cadenesso M.L et al. (2003) A framework for the theory of ecological boundaries
Revolving Doors or lots of burrows to visit revealing so many ideas, I am finding it hard to keep track, essentially feeling like Alice; that I am being led, scooped up and hurried along. This hurried along feeling is my usual pace to be fair, but diagnosed with Polymyalgia in August 2020 and now Temporal Arteritis in Jan 2021, illness has made me acutely aware of my limitations to keep up and I will confess that I have experienced frustration at not being able to fully take advantage of every lead. Although I am pleased with what I have achieved.
Isn’t this rather missing the point, I ask myself. Am I not encouraged to be more discerning and take advantage of the opposite, time…. To reflect analyse and be critical of my choices. The why I make my choices. Well, one thing is obvious I am guided by my heart, intuition and my interaction with the world around me including those serendipitous moments, those coincidental leads.
Perhaps because more than ever I am aware of just how exploring craft and art through the world and medium of nature, self-sufficiency and sustainability is and has been therapy. It is much more than an environmental issue all though that has been an incredibly important part of me all my life and I considered it to be my driving force.
To be self-sufficient and sustainable is a statement and a giver of confidence.
This confidence has allowed me to accept the elements that the initial research has presented as ideas and concepts to explore how ever difficult they may be for me personally. The how and in what context perhaps the focus of the MA.
The overwhelming feeling of insecurity, lack of confidence in your identity as an artist maker consumes me. Whilst innately, intuitively knowing ‘to make’ is breath and to breathe, the reality is hard to put into practice with financial stability and other commitments that make up who us as humans we have to be. The acceptance for me is the challenge, in this imperfect world that through inevitable curve balls, to hold dear that, that is essentially the ‘you’, your identity. Or a part of it, ‘The artistic/designer/craftsperson identity’. In my case to life self-sufficiently, sustainably and ultimately create or make is a huge part.
Whilst embracing the challenge, embarking on the next part of the journey to undertake the MA and being 110% committed. The floodgates open, no preparation can prepare you for the overwhelming influx of stimuli! Where to begin, the doubts of keeping pace…..extracting the opportunities full potential, that leaving no stone unturned is daunting, so exciting and ultimately exhausting at times before any concrete work can begin. The thoughts flood in and out and expand , the starting point comes within and out of reach, to do justice to the task.
Do I start from the past, the journey that brought me to this juncture? Or The future as I saw it before starting the course? Or Perhaps the ever changing goalposts that are coming day by day now as I engage, through zoom calls, interactions literature, life or thoughts and I welcome them, always knowing they will inevitability present themselves. The purpose of my journey.
Is the danger NOT to start, to start too soon, too late and miss the valuable essence of reflection, to go with what you know and miss the openness that reflection provides or get swallowed up with it. There is the point too that it cannot be forced, the task often happens when its ready, but that isn’t always to the deadlines set and causes anxiety.
Whilst the Covid presents its own challenges in this very bizarre year, with the early health issues clashing with the beginning of the course, the delivery of the course moving online has helped enormously in the anxiety. Hearing today fellow colleagues expressing and indeed being in a similar position with their insecurities, lack of concrete tasks achieved and not knowing just where to start… reassured.
I have begun this task at least.
Next steps/questions it poses….
Is it the whole or part of the image that excites or interests
Is it the pattern, texture or something else
It is as much about finding a method to work with as well. Creativity comes in many guises!
A copy of a post written Jul 30 2017 05:05PM reflecting on the work for my BA…
At this, the beginning of the journey for the final year of a BA Textiles degree in Knit, Weave and Mixed Media, there are many ‘threads’ to consider in setting a brief for myself and planning its execution.
With a passionate interest in nature from an early age, it was logical to consider creating a collection of natural fabrics following the processes from field to fabric. This was not something I fell into but more a lifestyle choice that I have been working towards since a small child.The child who rummaged around within the River Thames drift all those years ago. With life now nestled within 3 acres of field here in West Wales, ripe for dancing with the dream and the graduation date to be soon upon me, its time to bring it all together.
I am so determined and passionate about learning about, educating others and creating sustainable cloth, believing in the circular process necessary for protection of our planet, yet I have learnt through the journey of this degree that this can be obtained in so many ways. Many of them developing into innovative, exciting and contemporary ideas. Exploring old traditions in new ways to adapt the processes and outcomes; offering circular, sustainable and alternative approaches to fast fashion.