Exploratory Project 1

Early stages of project – dating to March 1st.

I began this project by investigating words of and associated with the landscape. To see if I could understand what draws me to landscapes, why and what I could take from these discoveries.

Consider: why it is that I like landscapes; what I get from being in the landscape; what I am reminded of afterwards; how to explore the landscape in terms of words and feelings and investigate these in relation to felt. I aimed to subject felt to emotions by affecting it physically and to see if I could make 3-d sketches of the landscape in Play-doh (what it would be like IN an element or above a landscape).

The brainstorming of words and emotions was certainly successful – and the notation of the opposites of these words in a different colour was certainly something extremely useful as a ‘deeper thinking’ tactic I could use later on. Once I felt comfortable with this form of investigation for elements and landscapes, I began to move on to areas I didn’t really want to think about – such as how depression feels.

The landscape is definitely a form of self-medication for me. Offered as an instant remedy by a doctor “go for a walk today”. I did as she suggested. It turned out that this day was a beautiful, crisp, winter morning and I took my camera along for company. I had a great time and it was the first ‘good day’ I had for ages. The association stuck. Intense colours in the landscape have drawn me more and more over the years, and these remain as ‘jewels’ in my memory to draw on when I am feeling low. Replicating these memories is great for me, but doesn’t really offer much value or areas of question for a viewer. My landscape pieces are all very resolved and presented as a finished ‘closed’ item which lacks interest for a viewer beyond first glance.

I decided to look at applying uncomfortable emotions to some rejected felt pieces. Anger and aggression – the antithesis of my intentions and processes when I created them. What would happen if I burnt, cut or ripped them. Or tried to force them into an unnatural positions. None of these worked.

  • Cutting felt with long fibres by knife is virtually impossible (pre-formed acrylic felt is probably easier). The knife rips up the surface of the material and renders any slicing invisible. This performed better with the use of scissors to cut the upper layers – it was like the opposite of laying yarn on the top – resulting in a deep grove, but was very hard to see.
  • It is impossible to rip felt as there is no warp and weft.
  • Cutting the edge (as a fringe) is interesting and allows you to see the build up of layers.
  • Rippling or folding these thin strips is also interesting.
  • Picking up/off upper layers of the fibres offers an interesting explosive effect – revealing a different ‘history’ underneath.
  • Burning was unbelievably poor. Just an acrid smell all over the house and some singeing. I was hoping for holes etc. but this just didn’t happen.
  • Adding PVA to natural wool curls to make them sculptural was a disaster. They became spikes and wouldn’t stand up either.

The felt experiments were well documented with process notes, but were so disappointing I didn’t photograph any of them. This flummoxed me in terms of my exploration.

I moved on to look how landscape ‘felt’ in my hands with the Play-doh in the hope this would give me some new avenues. How rain, hail or sun felt on your skin. What rocks and the sea looked like from above. How did these elements move and how did I perceive them to occupy physical space through touch? Again I was not impressed by the outcome. I am embarrassed by the photographs, but include them because they were important in the timeline and hopelessness I felt from them.

This left me utterly lost with how to explore these words and emotions. I tried going back to look at words again, but felt I had explored these as much as I could without creating some useful experiments I could reflect on. I was stuck – and so early on – I was lost and despondent.

Our first EP group meet was on 1st March and I expressed my frustration with this project and my desire to make something different instead – a collar based around how hard it is to hold your head above water when you are depressed. The group urged me to explore my frustrations on paper: what I was hating about the project and why and where I was stuck. I found this really useful and began conversations with myself – a frustrated version and a rational response which helped me to see things clearer and which things were important. I felt better about it and gave myself a bit of space to regroup.

The images below show the experiments I feel offered me some value.

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