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And Since it is beautiful....

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Georgina Spry

on 16 November 2016

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Transcript of And Since it is beautiful....

Georgina Spry
And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful ...
And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful…,
rethinking the classification of felt in the art craft hierarchy:
a complicated affair.

Through engagement with materials and ideas, it develops creativity, inventiveness, problem-solving and practical intelligence. And making fosters wellbeing. It is a vital part of being human.’ Crafts Council p.3 2014
data collection & simplistic overview of research process
A New Felt Presence:
A new felt presence


A new felt presence
Lees- Maffei & Sandino 2004
Andrea Graham
Speak to me of things unknown
Anita Larkin
Conduit (in function)
weird little creatures
sea shells
Anna Gunnarsdottir
procreation
Anna Kristina Goransson
roots
Marjolein Dallinga
foundation
internal chaos
Lisa Klakulak
Background
building on previous knowledge
Do the traditions of the hierarchy within the arts have an impact on felt artists in relation to their views of themselves and their own work?
Research Design
semi structured face to face individual interviews, questions based on central research questions
Interpretivist Research
recorded and transcribed semi structured interviews in the first instance
emerging interpretation of the data
Analysis and theory building

leading to possible further data collection
reflexive dialogue both written and sculptural
formulation of findings and conclusions
A new felt presence
One of the main reasons I am attracted to working with wool felt is the antiquity of its use by humans as a second skin, a protection against the physical elements and therefore, its offering of psychological security.
These pieces mark transitional moments in my life, moments of vulnerability that inspired depth of introspection. I process this life I have been given through making and so I make a felt skin to hold the concept so that I can let go and move on.
Kaakulak, L. 2016
Csikszentmihalyi TED talk
Context: International Feltmakers Association
1010 members
198 international
18 regions
Ruskin the Stones of Venice: the sea stories (1853), p. 161

“you can teach a man to draw a straight line; to strike a curved line, and to carve it… Abnormal speed and precision; and you will find his work perfect of its kind: but if you ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if you cannot find any better in his own head, he stops; his execution becomes hesitating; he thinks, and tend to one who thinks wrong; ten to one he makes a mistake in the 1st touch gives his work as a thinking being the you have made a man of them all out, he was only a machine before, an animated tool”


The sculpture based autoethnography project revolves around primary self-research based on reflexive analysis of the groups responses to questions and establishes felt sculpture is an artistic vehicle for research.

Research Process
Formal requirements of the thesis to post detailed proposal with research questions,
draft a self narrative,
create an installation that addresses the research questions,
use of visual diary to support a thoughtful reflective narrative reviewing all processes,
and present the finished installation as exhibition.


Felt sculpture as Arts based autoethnography
The idea of using a sculptural arts-based and/or reflexive enquiry is to enable the research to move beyond observations, interviews, and statistics by looking inward at the vulnerable self (Ellis, 2002; Griffiths, 2011).
Data Analysis
The autoethnography practice will enable myself to embrace the art making, personal narrative and emotion is viable data (Barone and Dyson are, 2012; Leavy, 2009)
The research questions and answers from those interviewed will support a narrative that will then be sculpted using various feltmaking techniques, the process will force myself to break the stories down and from this dissect a personal narrative using both small fragments of the interview and subtle moments gained myself (Furniss, 2007, 2008; Howson & Dalton, 2008; Perth 2008, 2010).
Sample
Members of the International Feltmakers Association region 11 group have been approached to ask for volunteers to share their story. exploring complex and subtle phenomena, gaining insights into people’s opinions, feelings, emotions and experiences (Denscombe 2010, p. 173).


Interviewer effect lessened

will still be affected by the personal identity of the researcher,


however there is little that can be done about this but being known to the group could limit this as well as adopting a passive and neutral stance.

Semi Structured Interview

With clear research areas to be discussed and addressed, the semi-structured interview will allow the flexibility in terms of order in which the topics are considered and enable the interviewee to develop ideas and speak more widely on the issues raised.

The answers will be open-ended and therefore more emphasis on the view interviewee elaborating on points of interest. (Denscombe 2010, p. 175).

An interview schedule will be produced with a list of topics to be discussed as outlined previously, this will be taken to each interview to ensure continuity.

Ethics

Reflection on ethics will be integral to the research
The British Educational Research Association Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research 2011 will be followed

Assurance will be given to participants that any ethical concerns are explicitly articulated and systematically checked within the faculties procedures for ethical approval and code of conduct for research and refers to the criteria set out in the University of Chester Research Governance Handbook.

Informed consent will be obtained from the participants, they would fully aware what they are agreeing to in the form of a participant information sheet and can opt out at any time.
The issues surrounding authorial voice will be noted.



Risks
There are no major risks such as psychological physical harm, breaking the law, harming the community etc.

There may be a small potential risk of damaging the standing or reputation of the participants or infringement of the privacy of participants, so steps will be put in place to assure the reputation of the participants remains intact.

Timeline
A timeline has been produced and will be regularly reviewed
How do we judge the quality of our own work and that of others,
How do we strive for more than mediocrity and forward from just good enough?

Felt Forms
…I discovered that when I did something on paper its considered art; when its thread its craft. The things that were considered craft the museums didn’t exhibit or buy”
(Albers, 1985 p. 26)
2003 Turner prize acceptance speech ‘I think the art world had more trouble coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks…’ (Grayson Perry 2003)
Lees-Maffel & Sandino (2004) state that Perry “clearly identified the continuation of the institutional, perceptual and cultural distinctions between crafts and arts and did so, high profile position. With his work is persona and his philosophy, Perry contradicts the assumptions and categories through which contemporary practice has been understood” (p.208).
excerpt from previous research findings
…I discovered that when I did something on paper its considered art; when its thread its craft. The things that were considered craft the museums didn’t exhibit or buy”
(Albers, 1985 p. 26)
2003 Turner prize acceptance speech ‘I think the art world had more trouble coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks…’ (Grayson Perry 2003)
Lees-Maffel & Sandino (2004) state that Perry “clearly identified the continuation of the institutional, perceptual and cultural distinctions between crafts and arts and did so, high profile position. With his work is persona and his philosophy, Perry contradicts the assumptions and categories through which contemporary practice has been understood” (p.208).
BERA Ethical Guidelines
References
References
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Barone, T., & Eisner, E.W.(2012).Arts-based research. United States California: Sage.
BERA (2011). Ethical Guidelines for educational research. British Educational Research Association, United Kingdom, London.
Bickel, B.(2005). From artists to a/r/tographer: an autoethnography ritual enquiry into writing on the body. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, to (1), 8 – 17.
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Crafts Council (2016). Retrieved from www.craftscouncil.org.uk
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International Feltmakers Association. (2016). Retrieved from www.feltmakers.com
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‘It is a well known fact that the process of felting is calming and focuses the mind. The brain oversees problem solving, development and happy accidents, the hands work by themselves and turn the loose wool into material, gradually bringing order to chaos. The hands sense solid ground and want to sculpt. Somehow this transformation has a positive influence on our way of thinking.’

Charlotte Sehmisch 2016
http://textilecentre.co.uk/?page_id=3695
The affinities between craft and art have been woven into an unstable and complex matrix over the last 200 years,

the realm including permanently moving allegiances within the families of discourses and sets of practices surrounding them.
movement in fine arts away from the more traditional depository of techniques, employing approaches that may once have been considered as processes more acquainted with craft techniques.
Chihuly’s extravagant chandelier work in the Victoria and Albert Museum can be seen as an example of the intersection between fine art and craft
when exploring this dynamic we should be “aware of the dangerous, inflammatory, nature of the topic but also to recognise these liaisons as creative and dynamic”

a “suppression of these debates results in a failure to acknowledge that the collaborative, interdisciplinary diversity of current practices produces hybrid artefacts that render discussions of the interplay essential” (p. 2).

The shifting tides of debate are difficult to grasp and make sense of and therefore warrant further exploration, as Adamson reiterates “Crafts position with in the arts is a complicated affair” (2007,p.1).
Both art and craft are terms that most people feel they understand as a common-sense terms however, both have been the cause of considerable speculation.
Adamson (2007) aligns the crafts position within the arts as analogous to ‘colour’, that every object is made or crafted in some way also has colour, suggesting that although one might propose that an object is colourful this should not be taken to assume all other objects lack colour, in the same way as stating that an object is highly crafted distinguishes the object not by kind, but by degree from others
It is worthwhile analysing a work of fine art and a work of craft to exemplify the arbitrary differences aligned to them and discuss the, although similar styles, differences imposed.


Mondrian’s, Composition with Double Line and Yellow 1932 and Albers, Black White Yellow, designed 1926.

Both show the modernity of art at that time, one is a painting (a textile with surface paint) the other a textile, both inspired by Bauhaus. Both have been hung on walls and called art, Albers hanging sits comfortably on a wall in the Victoria and Albert museum. As a textile Albers work has multi functions. Mondrian’s, a piece of autonomous work of primarily visual inspection created by a certain developed technique but, it could be argued, without greatly developed skill. However it has highly intrinsic value and Mondrian a status of great artist.

Albers works are primarily functional, as well as open to visual inspection the materials themselves are open to tactile juxtaposition, to feel as well as see. The specialised skills involved in the weaving show a professionalism to the work, however its label as a craft and particularly that of a craft of a woman, calls back to the notion of amateurism,
In contrast Tawney’s work displayed in 1962 within the textiles department of the Art Institute of Chicago and 1963 in the Museum of contemporary crafts was reviewed in the New York Times that Tawney “is more than just a weaver she is also an artist”
The principles supporting modern art, that of horizonless freedom and “potential transcendence of all limits” (Adamson 2007, p. 4) must include craft.

Although the result of crafts constrained disposition and the consequences of marginality stemming from this, it could be argued that craft still finds itself vital to modern art and its marginalisation may be seen as the most creative thing about it, surreptitiously working on the outskirts of fine art jostling alongside with new ideas and skills.
Discussions over the last 30 years surrounding what is craft and how it differs from art, has shown a movement towards the more ambivalent ‘does it matter’?

Rudge, discussing in his editorial for Crafts magazine 2003, suggested that the term craft was simply inadequate “to summarise the collaborative, interdisciplinary diversity of current practice” (Rudge, p. 1).

Adorno supports this statement further by speculating “posed from on high, the question whether something …is or is no longer art leads nowhere” and continues “because art is what it has become, its concept refers to what it does not contain” (cited in Adamson 2007 p.2).

The categorisations of craft and art therefore seem therefore to be disregarded by some, unwanted by others and upheld by the remainder.
conclusive shift of craft from the margins to the mainstream” 1996
“integrated position with fine arts, fashion, architecture and industrial design”2002
having “found their voice and flourished”2001
crafts “never quite arrived. They certainly never made it to the Tate” (2001)
“although the definition of art continues to expand, craft is still left out in the margins” 2001
Grayson Perry 2003 Turner prize acceptance speech ‘I think the art world had more trouble coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks…’
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”
(Saint-Exupery, p. 68).
“While the object systems of art and anthropology are institutionalised and powerful they are not immutable. The categories of the beautiful, the cultural, and the authentic have changed and changing”, (Clifford 2007 p.229).
The survey undertaken on the 2nd Feb 2016 using the International Feltmakers Group Facebook site
title Response %
Artisan 1 2%
Artist 9 18%
Artist/ crafter 4 8%
Craftsperson 7 14%
creative artist 1 2%
Designer 1 2%
Designer/ maker 2 4%
Don’t know 1 2%
Felt artist 1 2%
Fibre Artist 6 12%
Fine crafter 1 2%
Inspired technician 1 2%
Intrepid fibreist 1 2%
Maker / feltmaker 3 6%
Mixed media artist 1 2%
Mixed response 3 6%
Textile artist 6 12%
Wool Artist 1 2%

totals 50 100%

At the time of the survey there were 453 members of the Facebook group,g the member’s only site stating that it is for the participants to “network, share ideas, experiences and events”.

This is an international group and responses came from five different countries, the majority from the United Kingdom.
The question posed was “Can I ask please if members of this group think that they are artists or crafts people, or does it depend on what you make?? Really interested in people’s views”. Of the 68 responses 50 were in relation to the categorisation of themselves as artists and these have been analysed above.
The use of Facebook was to
elicit an immediate response,
without thought or debate,

Facebook gives the researcher opportunity and is rapidly gaining recognition as a “powerful research tool for the social sciences” “powerful research tool for the social sciences” and the data can be recorded “retrospectively in a convenient, accurate, and inexpensive way” Kosinski, Matz, Gosling & Stillwell (2015, p. 543),
The thoughts behind the question asked were twofold, one to elicit responses with regard to my own confusions surrounding my personal viewpoints on material verses processes as used for classification.
The wonder of this personal interpretation of self and the coexistence with the nature of the movement is of value,
Some objects that I make I feel are art - they are original, they have powerful meaning (sometimes different meaning for different people), they bring up questions in your mind something to ponder. I showed my friend a piece I made, and after reading the description (the meaning) - he started to cry! That's got to be art - it makes you feel something. It’s an expression. It’s a tribute to mankind. That's how I feel about my art and yours”.


Wilkes responded in a similar vein, “If it needs explaining, it’s not art. Art elicits a response. Some changes perceptions, some inspires, amuses, delights or disturbs. Most rubbish that passes for art only provokes disdain, derision and bafflement, it fails to engage”.

“I sculpt in clay and also in wool. I'm not thinking the medium effects the definition as art but the execution does”.


Responses
Many responses gave a definition of their beliefs on art and craft,

Ahern stated “Well, some philosophers rule out anything with a practical use as 'art.' So a beautiful tea cup or garment, howsoever original or distinctive, is always craft, but glue some nails on it to render it useless, and it becomes art! Me, I just create and let others label. I do say 'craft,' but enjoy it when my friends say: "no, no, Sylvia, that's ART!"

Another common theme, is one of the feeling of disrespect in being labelled a crafts person and label their work as art or textile art rather than craft “just so folks don’t get picky” (Hicks), to which McElroy responds “I am a craftsman or craftswoman or crafts person, people put you in the skilled category. If you say I am a crafter then they dump you in the hot glue category”,

Hicks agreeing “crafting has gained a negative context, (probably thanks to hot glue!) that seems to insinuate that it is less serious or lofty, which is a real disrespect to actual craftspeople”
Artist 18%, fibre artist 12% and textile artist 12% were among the top responses, however 14% of respondents suggested that they would call themselves a crafts person which is surprising given the responses outlined above
Exhibitions such as
The Art of the Felt maker in 1979,
Artist at Work: New Technology in Textile Fibre Art in 2003,
‘Feltrosa’ in 2010 culminating in
The Climate is Changing in 2010

all featuring the work of artist feltmakers from around the world sharing,

The Climate is Changing exhibiting “the creative impulses made by contemporary textile art” that would “furnish interesting stimuli for innovation and research into materials and processes” (Cavicci, 2010, p.4).
Interpreting themes through the infinite forms and colours that felt is able to communicate through its flexibility of use and adaptability to many expressive formats (Degl’lnnocenti 2010).

The articulation of the messages put forward in this exhibition, through such a “tactile medium draws a spectator sensory into the debate;
The visibility of felt as a fibre in contemporary arts in the last few years have also been partly fuelled by the resurgence of fibre crafts in mainstream culture, partly the Indie cultures elevation of the handmade,
reusable and recyclable and the attunement to environmental movements and also the position of craft as ethical and ecologically sustainable (Auther 2010).

Unfortunately despite all of these conditions towards the movement of change, this widespread adoption of felt by contemporary artists does not denote the eradication of the hierarchy of art and craft.


It can be seen that these boundaries are still in existence, that objects produced in felt can be routinely considered as a craft, which if produced in the different material may be classified as a work of fine art.

However much widespread art work in felt has been seen in the last few years and the existence of craft organisations, international felt makers associations and galleries which continue the reinforcement of a visible presence,

for good or for bad, demonstrate this hierarchy or boundary within the art world.

The difference in the last few years has been that association in this hierarchy does not confine artists “to what was perceived as a craft ghetto in the 1960s and 1970s” (Auther 2010, p. 176) instead university degrees in textiles and fibres are seen to be a training ground for interdisciplinary contemporary art.

How the hierarchies will mutate in the future is a compelling question and what will be seen of arts in the future, the answer remains open.
under further analysis many of these have given deeper responses such as

Crowdy who suggests that she views herself as a craftsman not a hobby crafter but “a professional, well-practised and trains craftsman in the original sense of the world… It is artistic beautiful and practical”.

Keshett confirms she is in transition between a crafter and an artist and as her skill increases and is “honed by the creator, more becomes art”.
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