Silver Crow Project

Year 2: Unit One - Social & Cultural Contexts: Sustainability

Mega quick and ultra condensed post about unit one:

This unit we were tasked to continue on from the work we had done on our Summer Projects which had been about sustainability. The unit outcome involved us doing a presentation based on what we had learnt over the course of unit one; linking our practice with sustainability and the art movements we had been learning about in theory lessons. I hate anything that involves me speaking in front of people. I ended up getting my notes muddled up and fluffing my words but everyone was very nice about it.

We also had to make four A4 pages of a publication that would be combined with nine other peoples pages to create one book about sustainability. Then we were to print off 10 copies of our own pages so that we all had a finished publication to keep.

The project could be on anything at all as long as it was about sustainability and involved print. I didn't realise what a ginormous subject this was. I also didn't do much of my Summer Project (Yes, I bitterly regretted that!) I hadn't realised it would lead into unit one and what with the kids being off, it just didn't happen. Not an excuse I know and I keep telling myself that if I want a career out of this I cannot stop work every time the kids are on holiday.

So anyway - long story short. Huge panic about the amount of work involved. Four weeks faffing about trying to think of a theme only to go back to what I had been researching in the first year which had been environmentally friendly burials in other cultures.

(Side Note - I have decided from here on in to concentrate on death (and so, life) nature and sustainability for all future projects while at uni. This may change but for now it's what is interesting me and will save me SO much time!)

During the summer, while I didn't do a lot of my actual project I did go to a lot of exhibitions. I had also been making a bit of noise about wanting to explore textiles and after having done one of my final outcomes in year one as a fabric skull wall hanging, this only confirmed that. I went to see the Mister Finch exhibition up at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and there were also a lot of free exhibits there based around textiles and sustainability. It was amazing to see the Mister Finch work in real life - I have followed him for a few years since he was doing the faux taxidermy work. Reading about how a lot of his materials are sourced vintagely (is that a word?) or from boot fairs or charity shops/eBay has made me think about what I do myself. I think a lot of us interested in art and the crafts are natural hoarders and I really want to use all that stuff. Also I went to see the Summer Exhibition at the RA and it was mostly the mixed media or textile exhibits that I was drawn to there. And then there was the amazing MA show at my uni and it was the Interiors and Textiles work that really I loved most of all.

SO - back to unit one. I hated this unit at first. Because I didn't understand it. But it made me really think hard about my own practice. That combined with all the amazing things I saw over the summer - plus the experiments I had been doing with working on alternative structures like teabags, made me have a huge light bulb moment. So I know what I want to do and I know where I want to go now. Finally. I want to bring textiles into my mixed media and work texturally on art that people can touch and have in their homes but not be afraid to handle if that makes sense. I know I am on an illustration course but I am seeing so many ways that people are doing illustration in a 3D way - I also want to do things the old fashioned way. I know I have to learn all the Adobe crap. I do know that and I do see how it would be beneficial for me to know how to do Photoshop and InDesign and even though it goes against every fibre in my being that tells me I cannot do it and I cannot understand it. I will try my hardest. But ultimately? When I leave uni? I want to work with my hands. And I want to work as sustainably as possible. And I probably will always be interested in death.

And Finally...

When I finally realised what I wanted to do it all came together really quickly. I've also started doing a course outside of uni with the local Adult Education centre on Textiles & Mixed Media - the people on that are wonderful. I really am a total beginner when it comes to stitching and they are very patient, we definitely all have different ideas which is fun to see. 

I researched natural burials and found out there were two sites in Kent. A natural burial is where you are buried in a bio degradable casket or urn and most times a tree is planted above you. It's very interesting - sometimes the area can be coppiced to bring in extra revenue for the land while still maintaining the environment or the trees could be fruit trees etc. I had been practising eco-print with some leaves from my area and wanted to try and do it with some leaves from a burial ground to try and tie the place to the project. Give it that authenticity. 
Carmen WIng - Eco Print Process
Carmen Wing - Eco Print Process
I visited the one nearest me and it is truly lovely. Once it is full the plot will be turned into a nature reserve and so protected in the future. On the day I went there were people enjoying a picnic, someone was digging a plot, there was someone snoozing under a tree. It was a really different feel to a normal cemetery. I discretely gathered some leaves and when I got home I used those leaves to do some eco-printing on various papers.
Carmen Wing - Eco Print Leaves

Carmen Wing - Eco print leaves and flowers

Over the next few days and with much panic and use of the dreaded Photoshop this was my final page designs. All imagery is my own - from the eco-prints to a gelli print I did a while ago and the photography of teasels and cobwebs are from my local area. I used a poem by Mary Frye and faded it into the pages so that sometimes it's legible and sometimes it's not. It's a very famous poem and I like to think it ties in with the idea that a natural burial means you are not gone. You are giving life back to the environment and the cycle continues. I hope she would approve.
Carmen Wing - Book pages - Eco Print and Photoshop - Mary Frye Poem
Front Page - Two Inside Pages - Back Page
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 
So to sum up. This was a very thought provoking unit - probably the one that has been instrumental in helping me see how I want my work to move forward. So although I feel like I didn't get nearly as much work done as I would like, it has been invaluable in that sense and so I am glad with my outcome. I just hope I passed the unit!

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"Say your right words" the goblins said...