Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Design for the Terrified at AGWSD Summer School 2015

I was very lucky to be selected as a tutor at Summer School this year at Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire.  All tutors selected had been asked to write a blog post about the course or something related to the skills students would learn, to help prospective students decide if they should enrol on the course.  I wrote three posts,  which can be found here:
What is Design
Preparing to Design
Design Development

There were 12 students enrolled, 2 of which were attending for 2 1/2 days at the beginning of the week.  All were terrified when they arrived on Monday morning, but by Tuesday afternoon all were chatting and talking design amongst themselves, it was amazing to see the transformation!   I'd just guided them through a range of exercises, including colour studies, textural studies, collage, stripes, etc.  Everyone's approach to the design tasks were different as can be seen, here, in the images I took of their work on Saturday morning for their exhibition.

The two images above are from Anita's designs for a woven seat cover fabric inspired by the curtain fabric in the room the chair sits.  Anita stripe patterns resulted in a beautiful woven swatch that really worked with the curtains.  At the end she said she was no longer terrified!

 Ann's images, above, are inspired by shells in her collection.  She's a felt maker and her samples were stunning.  She is planning to make soft felt for fashion fabrics.  She had been quite sceptical, but began to really love doing the design work.  Ann, too, said she was no longer terrified!

Betty signed up late and could only get two half week courses and was persuaded to try Design for the Terrified at the beginning of the week and finish the week on Louise Martins Coptic Weaving course.  Betty sews and embroiders and was really worried that she'd be wasting her time, but said she was so, so glad she'd joined us and realised that design was the true beginning of the process of producing something.  Her plan was to design a hanging window treatment for her landing window that would be two sided, night on one side, day on the other.

These two images, above, are the work of Dunja who wanted to use the woollen yarn from her family farm in Wales.  Her inspiration was a beautiful image of a frosty tree with a bullfinch, it was a difficult picture that could be approached in a number of ways.  She isolated areas to produce a lovely stripe patterns and her mood board was a stunning example of how to do it.

The above two images are Elizabeth's work.  She's an experienced weaver who works in fine silk and her inspiration was one of the Shaun the Sheep figures in Bristol.   Her hard work lead to a range of swatches which she thinks she'd like to turn into fabric for a top and jacket.

Helena, a knitwear designer and spinner, chose a vibrant image of flamingo's as her inspiration.  She was looking for an image that represented a large part of her yarn stash and she succeeded!  She was inspired to spin extra yarn and try out some interesting knit ideas.

The three images, above, are of Linda's work.  She is a ceramicist, spinner and weaver, and already had design skills, but used the course as a refresher, her work was very colourful and resulted in some beautiful colour blended yarns.

Rachel's, a spinner and knitter, decided to use an antique fire surround in her home as her inspiration, which can be seen in the two images above.  Her plan is to develop a range of textiles to dress the room linking the flooring with the fire surround.

I only have one image of Rita's design work, above, sadly.  She came with a whirlpool image in black and white as inspiration which she developed into small tapestries testing out colour techniques.  She entered a beautiful little tapestry of a puffin flying to Orkney entitled "Approach to Orkney".  I fell in love with it, but it was at the end of the auction and I'd already committed to a couple of lots.  When I told her I was so sad it hadn't sold because I loved it, the whole group plotted to buy it from Rita to gift to me at the end of the course.  I was so touched I could have cried!  This is the image:

I think Shelagh might have been the most terrified of all of my students, not only about the course, but also about being my "Prefect" (all courses had an appointed Prefect to collect messages from Summer School office and help solve student problems).  She was the perfect Prefect, a great help to me and her fellow students!
Her plan was to design a fabric for a soft jacket in cotton and her inspiration was a beautiful field of wild flowers which, I understand, is still under development, but is getting very close to a lovely fabric.

This is Valeries work, sadly only the one image again, using a beautiful post card of lilies in very contemporary colours that had been the attraction.  As you can see she really took to the exercises to their limits and developed a range of blended handspun yarns in the exact colours.

I, too, enjoyed my time with the group, guiding them through the exercises.  At times it was a leap of faith on their part to do something that seemed irelevent to the inspiration and to what they had planned as the end result, but once they'd completed all the exercises they realised that all were needed in the process in any order and each triggered more ideas!

The whole group made friends with the on-site IT men and unknown to me they got a wonderful card made for me as a thank you.  And unknown to Shelagh they had a second made to thank her for her dedication as our Prefect!

Thank you, everyone, for being such excellent students and being a joy to teach.


Rita Corbett said...

Hi Alison. Thank you for the blog. It is a lovely reminder of a great week. As a group we got on really well together, and all experienced the highs and lows when a particular exercise worked or didn't work for us. What was a big part of the learning on design was to observe the individual journeys we made whilst moving forward together from skeptical, doubtful, fearful and needy to smiling, confident and really delighted with our outcomes. We playfully called ourselves "designers" at the end of the course.
Thanks to you for holding the whole experience together and for telling us at the start-when doubt was the primary expression-that we would get there provided we let you lead us into the unknown.

Alison Daykin said...

I loved it, Rita! I watched, with great pleasure, everyone's journey that you put so succinctly. My lovely tapestry is collecting a few pictures to go with it, see and puffin related, so I can display it in the centre of my diningroom wall!

charlotte said...

This looks like a great course to attend! I would have loved being there!

Alison Daykin said...

I o do short courses, Charlotte, if you're interested and could get a group together. I'm happy to travel.

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