Sunday, 17 May 2015


This unit has had its high points and low points for me. I felt the beginning of the unit started on a high; everyone in our group was really well motivated and we all shared the same ideas. The mix of different courses within our group also meant we had a variety of skills to bring to the table.

I found I discovered many new things whilst working as part of a group. For example, the help you can receive from the different workshops located around the art school. I also gained new skills in some machines such as learning to use the eyelet-er. These were both positive outcomes from this unit, as well as learning to fundamentally work as part of a team creatively; as this was something I was very new to.

I felt I was very involved this unit. In the past I have found it sometimes difficult working in the studio everyday, however this unit I felt I wanted to make the most of the excellent facilities on a project that would give me the opportunity to try different things; as well as being part of a group with meant I didn't want to be letting anyone down. The research part of the project was something I found I really got stuck into, and really enjoyed building an idea of what I personally had visualised. The beauty of working in a group meant we could all research and bring our ideas together each time we met. The breakdown of  the group I feel stemmed from the lack of communication once we started working in the workshops. Only being allowed a couple of people in the metal workshop at a time meant we spent a lot of time apart from the group, which resulted in decisions being made by a majority vote rather than as a collective. This in turn caused disagreements among us, as some felt things needed re-doing. Therefore, the eventual breakdown of the group was no real surprise when it came to it.

Discussing what could be improved upon; relating to the original group I feel would be our time management and communication. I have learnt that it is very important when working as part of a group for there to be constant communication in order for everyone to keep up to date with the development of ideas when the group is not together. This I felt we then displayed as a splinter group. We made it very clear with each other that this was one of the main causes of the breakdown previously. We were then determined to make sure it did not happen again. Referring to the splinter group in terms of what could be improved upon I am finding slightly more difficult. Having had much less time in which to research, design and produce, I felt we did extremely well and worked effectively together, and what we produced reflected this hard work.

Working as a smaller group, our motivations were primarily related to public interaction and experiences. These were the key themes that finally drove our ideas forward in the last week. Below is an image of the leaflet promoting our rooftop exhibition.

In the future I am aiming to be working in an industry that would be dealing with the public in terms of likes and dislikes through product buying. This project has had me working, thinking about how the public would be affected by our installation and I have found it very interesting. I am hoping to use this thought process through my future projects as I go into my third and final year.

Saturday, 16 May 2015


In the original larger group of 7, working on the shelter idea I found I developed the skill of thinking more constructively rather than through a textile style of working. I found myself thinking not only about how it would look but how it would connect together. This was something I was not used to but is a skill I have acquired through choosing this project.

I found the collaborative experience as a whole very interesting and definitely an eye opener. Something I have loved about it is being able to bounce off other peoples ideas in order to come up with something brilliant.However at times it was clear this did not always run smoothly. In our case, it resulted in the break down of the group only a week before the deadline. Not only was this a shame, but it also meant we needed to then work effectively as a smaller team of 3 in order to produce something in time for the installation. It also led to the unexpected development of quite interesting ideas from the 3 of us; focusing our attention on fewer elements and being able to sample these before moving forward with them, and taking care looking back over the brief to respond in a way that would be fit for the rooftop. It would have been interesting to see what we could have come up with if we had started as this group from the beginning.

Given the time the 3 of us had, there wasn't the opportunity to develop our ideas further physically. However, we did come up with a couple of ideas we would have liked to have had the chance to experiment with. For example, we wanted to make our installation as interactive as possible, keep it sustainable and with low costs so that the tenants would be able to add to it however they liked. Our main developed idea was concerning the hanging nests/baskets. We wanted to use this design to create discrete bird feeders, which would encourage the development of the natural environment around the city. Below shows what we would have been aiming to achieve, pictured next to one of the nests/baskets we made for the installation.

potential bird feeder idea, developed from 
what we made photographed below

nest/basket made for part of the installation

 This type of work is not very similar to the way I would usually work apart from the materials. I am not usually working to such a specific brief for a specific client, which has been a different experience for me. I hope to be able to take the things I have learnt this unit with me into my final year of university.


Research is an important part of any project, which needs to be done in good time in order for it to be worth while. In my practice, I research into ideas similar to my own as well as artists with the same style of work as mine. This is all helpful, contextual information that I can use to influence my own work.

However, usually in textiles we are researching at the same time as doing our initial drawings and sampling; as well as introducing ourselves to the materials we would want to be working and experimenting with. This unit has been different in that we were to begin with research only, with no real indication as to the materials we would be using or to what we would be making specifically; only that we were working on a rooftop project in the centre of the Northern Quarter, part of the Manchester Light Night festival and we would be supplied with a selection of sustainable materials.

The beginning of the unit had the whole class group dividing ourselves into smaller groups, in order to work on different concepts related to what we thought design was. Although this was not directly linked to the project brief, it was a different and interesting way of getting us to start thinking about what ideas we could potentially come up with, that could be brought forward through the unit. I put myself in the 'Creating Sensations' group. The key ideas here were focused on producing something that affected the audience/ made the audience feel something. We therefore began our research by exploring Pinterest for ideas related to this concept. Below are a couple of images that I personally feel recreate the 'creating sensations' idea; using light and touch.

Through my own research I found that the bigger the scale of the installation/work, the more intense the experience. Looking at the examples above, you can imagine the sensations created in those environments.

A couple of weeks into the unit, having been introduced to the kinds of materials we could use, and being shown the the ideas as to what could be made for the rooftop, this changed the way we were researching. We no longer needed to be looking so broadly. We needed to agree on an idea, which our group decided would be to make a closed environment to provide an escape from the city life, and we were keen on using the used print screens as our main building material. Our next stage of research then began with closed environments and shelters. I then also began looking at how we could create the sensations through touch, sight and sound and found a number of different ideas (a couple of examples are photographed below).

Not long after this, our research turned from looking for inspiration to finding ways of making our ideas happen. More specifically, how we would be able to connect screens together to form a closed environment. This proved to be very difficult with no one in our group with any expertise in this area. However, this is all part of the learning curve of Unit X; we used our initiative and found help in the form of the metal workshop, who proved to be very helpful; and this was something of a surprise, learning that you can go and ask in any of the workshops for help and advice (giving that you come with a realistic time frame in mind).

Having split the group towards the end of the project, this gave way for more research to be done on top of what we already had concerning our new ideas. We were still following the same concept as before, only not over complicating ourselves with the technicality of building a shelter. As a smaller group, we decided to focus more on how we can create a sensation through what we make. We focused on sight, sound and touch to influence our research and designing process.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Deadline Day

Today was the day we had been building up to over the course of this unit and I was confident it was going to run smoothly. Throughout last week we worked extremely hard in order to meet this deadline, and we did it.

We arrived at the rooftop at 10:00am eager and ready to start setting up our installation. As our work was all in small sections, it meant we did not have too much to carry so were able to start quite quickly. We were using the same space as the rest of our previous group; and although the space itself was quite small, we were able to work effectively together today to work around this small issue. We were all able to install our work within the time we had, ready to open the rooftop to the public. Photographed below are a series of images I took today of our installation.

We had a lot of positive feedback on our installation; with one person commenting "it is something interesting and unusual that I have never seen before; a very well thought out concept". The tenants of the building were also very pleased with it and requested it be kept on the rooftop. This I was very pleased to hear.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Final Week

Returning to the studio today with new ideas felt very refreshing, and I was excited to start progressing with the samples we felt had worked well. We began by listing the different elements of our installation and then organised how much time we had left in which to do them. This meant we were able to work towards targets to finishing each part. We then began to look at each of our sampled pieces and discuss the ways we could push each idea further.

Our installation will consist of:
  • nests/baskets made out of pva glue and string/raffia hanging in the space under the stairs
  • plastic bottles wrapped in different coloured raffia, containing cut up glow sticks hanging in the space under the stairs
  • metal washers knitted with mono filament hanging in the space under the stairs
  • different textured yarns knitted into strips to be tied to the top section of the scaffolding
  • smaller samples of the metal washers knitted with mono filament to be hanging from the top section of the scaffolding
  • cable ties to be attached to the netting on the top section of the scaffolding
  • spray painted plastic poles to be tied in a way that they can role to the lower section of the scaffolding
Although this sounds like a lot of work, the three of us work well together and are well motivated to completing this to the best of our ability with the time we have.

In first year one of my units involved knitting, however I had never managed to get to grips with the technique. I was therefore excited when the three of us started producing the knitted strips for our installation. After a couple of mistakes I found my feet with it and I'm glad I was able to give it another go and experiment with it in different ways with the assistance of Katie. Below are some of the strips we made (photographed in the space) as well as the hand knitted metal washers on mono filament samples.

'knitted strips'

'metal washers knitted with mono filament'

Having had already made the majority of the raffia wrapped bottles and string and raffia nests/baskets at home, we were then able to move onto spray painting the plastic poles. These didn't take too much time to do which we were happy about. Although most of the elements in our installation are not very time consuming, I don't feel this will mean the experience wont be as effective.

spray painted yellow and copper to fit in nicely
 along side the existing scaffolding

We are planning on connecting these all together with rope that fits with the colour palette we have chosen (red, yellow, green - we determined this by looking at all the images we has of the rooftop. We wanted out piece to fit nicely with what was already existing there and not be an eye sore).

Coming to the end of this project I have mixed emotions. I have enjoyed the learning curve that came with working in a group.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

New start, New ideas

Today was a day I felt had been a long time coming. Over the past couple of weeks, myself and others had noticed a lack of motivation and enthusiasm for the project from some members of the group. And especially with only 1 week left you would think there would be a sense of urgency about the studio. Coming into the studio to find that half the group hadn't arrived and wanted to work from home and 'brainstorm' ideas I found very disheartening, having all agreed to meet first thing.

The three of us in the studio felt like we had an important decision to make in order for us to move forward. We asked for advise off one of our tutors, who reassured us the decision we were about to make was for the best and would benefit the whole group.

We will now finish the project split into two separate groups that will each create something different to install on the rooftop next week. I feel that I had wanted to make this decision a couple of weeks previous to today as I felt we had not been working as well and efficiently together, but I didn't know how to go about it. However, this is something else I have learnt this unit; choosing who you work with in a group wisely, have an understanding that everyone in the group will need to be willing to compromise when it comes to difficult decisions being made, and also to be more honest with the group I'm working with; if I feel that there is becoming a lack of communication and cooperation then I should share it with the group so we can rectify the problem before it gets to far as it has in this project.

In a way I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. India, Katie and I looked back over the research we had done in the weeks previous, to bring ideas through to use in our designs for our new installation as a smaller group. Photographed below is our ideas board; including rough sketches of what we have visualised.

We have agreed that we will continue with the 'creating sensations' theme. We are hoping to use the top, thinner stairs, the hanging area directly below it, as well as two different sections of the scaffolding walls. We are keen to make our installation as interactive as possible to give the audience an enriching sensory experience.

We decided to go home and start playing around with the different ideas we had been discussing earlier in the day so that we could make some decisions of what works well and what doesn't. Below are a few photographs showing myself and India's experimenting with different materials.

 Balloons wrapped in pva covered string and raffia and
 balloons filled with water and glow sticks

  Water bottles filled with water and glow sticks

The result from the first photo, also done in different
 coloured raffia to follow our chosen colours

I felt these all worked really well. However, I wanted us to be able to move these initial ideas forward as I felt they were quite basic as they are in this form. I am hopeful we can push these forward in the next week to make them more interesting and unusual.

Ethics Workshop

On the 5th of May John Spencer, PhD Researcher Miriad MMU. gave a workshop about ethics and how we in the design industry are affected. We discussed a number of different scenarios where we had to make decision which in some, the outcomes ended in a hypothetical death. We were then asked why it was we chose that decision and whether it was ethically right. I found this workshop very interesting, as it's something that I've never particularly looked into in the past.

Examples of ethical issues specific to art, architecture, design, and media may include:

  • Art practice and political interventions
  • Digital media and the question of copyright
  • Public exhibition
  • Competency, risk and creative production
  • Transgressive art practice and shock values
  • Media privacy, Censorship, Accuracy, Fairness and Bias

John spoke of a two-part reflection exercise that has been trialled over the last 4 years as a research project within Miriad. It has been designed with the intention to not restrict creative freedoms or introduce unnecessary paperwork but encourage researchers to identify, evaluate and respond to ethical issues they might encounter. We were informed that they were not only offering this out to post graduate students but to under graduate students now too; to be used as a way of identifying whether there are any ethical issues associated with your project and to be able to plan a response to any issues raised.

Today I received the email containing the interactive PDF file for me to fill out and send back. Whilst completing the online form I found some of it quite difficult to use. For example the rollovers that reveal more information about the question, I found these were difficult to control as they didn't disappear after reading the information and therefore covered the majority of the rest of the form which made it hard to carry on answering the remaining questions. However, I do still think the idea behind it is very strong and would be beneficial to every practice once the minor problems were rectified.