Following 7 threads of development through my portfolio
‘Portfolio threads’ documents the work in relation to a number of threads of enquiry. This provides an opportunity for reflection and an overview of some of the issues and ideas that have emerged out of the developing practice. As with the process of making, the process of writing is itself speculative, providing a parallel mechanism through which to shape (and continually reshape) thinking. Similar to the practical outcomes, any conceptual framework is itself emergent and in flux. As Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg observe in relation to the process of establishing theoretical frameworks, ‘Isn’t theory - any theory with or without a capital T - supposed to work in this way? Operating with a certain modest methodological vitality rather than impressing itself upon a wiggling world like a snap on grid of shape setting interpretability?’ * Indeed, the practice often emerges independent of any clearly articulated rationale, yet I would suggest that the process of writing is useful in helping us to become aware of the implications of our actions.
In reality many of the threads of enquiry could be applied to a number of the works. In this respect, the organisation of the practice within project categories is something of a retrospective and pragmatic exercise which doesn’t necessarily reflect the fluidity or the experimental uncertainty through which both the practice and ideas evolved. Further reflections on the developing practice can be found within the ‘Published Material’ section of the site.
* Seigworth, G. J., and Gregg, M. (2010) The affect theory reader. Durham, London:Duke University Press. p.4
Project 1 - plain sewing in the space of painting
Initially emerging out of a period of speculative studio enquiry in the late 1990s, the gesso encrusted cloth constructed, ‘bag’ form (together with its corresponding buttonhole motif) subsequently developed as a methodological strategy and signatory practice.
project 2 - material multiples: from inner to outer relationships
This body of studio enquiry extends the smaller series of cloth constructed ‘bag’ forms to consider the potential of larger multiples. Developing from what were initially small-scale singular forms, the work had gradually increased both in the size and the number of module units with the intention of achieving a larger surface area and thereby material presence. However, as the size increased, the challenge was how to maintain the insistence on the surface. Concerned that the bags were becoming too monumental and thereby losing their important relationship to the body and conscious of the difficulties of sustaining the surface over a larger scale, rather than increase the size, subsequent series began to address the possibility of much larger multiples.
project 3 - arbitrary divisions
Extending areas of investigation instigated by the handrail/barrier forms (see Materially divided), this body of studio enquiry continued to address ideas about repetitive spatial practices and embodied corporeality. Ongoing concerns informing the developing practice included an interest in touch and the way that ubiquitous aspects of the built environment such as door handles and light switches mediate between the body and space, instigate unconscious routinely repeated patterns of behaviour and mark points of transition. The studio enquiry also found correspondence with earlier references to plain sewing in the way that these often overlooked objects of material culture have a quotidian utilitarian anonymity but nevertheless are crucial to the functioning of our everyday activities.