Category Archives: Assignment 1: Cultural Fusion

Developing my gecko design

Back at the beginning of this course I worked with geckos as my personal totem.  Click here to see some interpretations I explored in February 2013. I’ve now used one of my earlier designs as the basis for a piece … Continue reading

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Assignment 1 Cultural Fusion – Addendum

Further analysis of assignment work.

In the last couple of weeks I have received three official communications from OCA regarding my course work. Two of them relate to my formal submission for assessment for the course A Creative Approach – one from my tutor who was present during assessment with the other being assessor comments. The third communication, also from my tutor, relates to the assignment I’ve just completed for Exploring Ideas. I will not be posting these comments in my on-line learning log, as some students do, as I believe that tutor/student communications should be kept to the people involved. The guidance I have been given is for me to follow not for the whole world to analyse.

Having said that, there are one or two things that I can address in generalised terms but I am not looking back to the course I have completed so will only be concentrating on Assignment 1 of this current course.

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It’s become clear to me that whilst I have done a lot of research and produced a body of work from that start point I haven’t documented the progression from one to the other very well. My totem research covered 4 main areas:

  • Tiwi people of Bathurst & Melville Islands, NT, Australia. Pukumani/Tutini Burial Posts. Whilst I found these very interesting and spent some time exploring the concept I did not take this further into my own design work as I didn’t feel I could develop the abstract form of the patterning into a meaningful personal project. I felt no connection to the finished posts and was unable to relate to the cultural significance of this work as it is very personal to their tribal beliefs. I moved on to other areas.
  • Other Australian Aboriginal Totems, North Australia. The focus here is on personal totem images of creatures of significance to individuals for whatever reason – information on this subject is extensive within Australian Aboriginal historical and contemporary writing. The word totem does not indicate a pole of any sort, rather the depiction of a creature. As stated in my post of 2/1/13 I was very influenced by this museum visit and the idea of depicting a personal benevolent animal in a contemporary setting (functional design) appealed to me as something I could develop into an interesting and engaging project. The reason I picked the lizard as my own totem is detailed here. My entire lizard samples evolved from this start point.

Gecko modernThe samples above are based on a contemporary, simplified idea of the lizard (drawn by myself) which I feel is easily recognisable worldwide as depicting any generalised member of the species. I picked a fluid and lifelike shape and I drew several prototypes (some in the previous course) before deciding which one was the clearest most uncluttered design to evolve into the different visuals.

Stylised lizardsThis piece, above left, was based on an even more simplified and stylised rendition coming from Australian Aboriginal art, which is mostly minimalist, simple, outline work. Creatures are distorted and sometimes shown in unnatural positions. I tried to achieve a similar effect with my own interpretation whilst still staying within this genre. I looked at many, many Aboriginal resources, none of which I’m prepared to reproduce due to copyright issues. The reader can easily google Aboriginal lizard art and find thousands of interpretations.

Abroiginal style lizardsIn my piece above left the fluidity of the subject was discarded in favour of a more rigid approach. Whilst some of the sample pictures don’t show a lot of rigidity it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal rock art and, having visited numerous ancient sites in the Kimberley region, I have seen much of this. Shapes become distended, limbs are shown at odd angles and creatures quite often seem to morph into mythical incarnations. Below are two authentic rock art pieces from http://www.britannica.com.

Aboriginal rock art lizardsLeft: Painting on bark of a monitor lizard in X-ray style by Baboa, from Arnhem Land, Australia; in the State Museum of Folklore, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Credit: Courtesy of the Städtisches Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Right: Rock painting of a lizardlike creature, Hawker, South Australia. Credit: Holle Bildarchiv, Baden-Baden, Germany.

So my Australian Aboriginal research influenced the 5 samples and the final piece I produced in a profound and positive manner. However, I completely understand that my recording of this may have been lacking meaning that the process was difficult to follow.

  • North American Totems. Haida Gwaii, Canada and Alaska. These are a very different concept to those listed above. They are based on a pole usually with multiple carvings of several animals. These animals, whilst unrelated, still have significance to the tribe. Some poles tell stories whilst others are only visual images of creatures (meaningful to the tribe) in different poses or sizes. I took from these the idea of using poles to showcase more than one image or theme, using messages personal to myself. Most poles are huge and much more imposing and dynamic than the Tiwi posts I previously examined and to my mind they exhibit a powerful presence. I saw many a totem pole whilst living in the UK and all are massive, intricately carved and colourful, effectively drawing the eye to the imposing nature of the structure. I wanted to try to do something similar – tall configurations with my own form of visual messages.
  • Contemporary Totems. I looked at many modern-day artists and have stated several times how I was influenced by John Dahlsen. I found the grouping of his installations to be visually stimulating and powerful. One sculpture alone doesn’t send such an aggressive or forceful message but by putting multiple pieces together he has created something much more shocking and confronting. He is concentrating on his own messages of waste and discard, I chose my own. Jenny Orchard also piqued my interest with her quirky ceramic totems and the grouping of the exhibits, along with the diverse subject matter, is what creates the atmosphere and interest. I looked at her work as a multitude of different components which when put together created the whole. I hoped my road sign messages would do the same. I was delighted to see the work of Rosalie Gascoigne whilst at the MCA and I wrote quite a bit about her work, my final comment being ‘A sort of fragmented, scattered visual poetry. Yes, I can see that.‘ I enjoyed her work but it wasn’t a route that suited my project ideas at this stage of my development.

There were, unquestionably, some issues with my road sign project but whilst working on them I couldn’t see that. It’s only as I came to the end of the project that I reflected on the direction I had taken and what improvements could have been made (see review). Visually the messages I want to portray cannot really be understood without a text interpretation but, in my defence, I have to read most artist statements before I can start to interpret the message of their work.

I enjoyed the experience. Both on my own and with the aid of my tutor I have learned a lot and have a clearer idea of where my strengths and weaknesses are and I am making every effort to take on board her comments and encouragement.

Resources:
http://www.freepik.com – lizard clip art
http://www.equilter.com – lizard fabrics
http://www.artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=2857&PICTAUS=TRUE
http://www.emilydewsnap.co.uk/2010/02/aboriginal-lizards/
http://www.pictify.com/296574/aboriginal-lizards-on-textile
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/36049/Rock-painting-of-a-lizardlike-creature-Hawker-South-Australia
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/8050/Painting-on-bark-of-a-monitor-lizard-in-X-ray Continue reading

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Exploring Ideas: Assignment 1 Cultural Fusion – Review

Do your finished samples fulfil your expectations?  To what extent do they reflect the initial research that you undertook for this assignment?  Can you see a clear line of progression from source material to preliminary ideas and finished samples or … Continue reading

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Cultural fusion – Stage 4 Functional Design

Lizard Bed Linen Design. I have chosen to develop one of my lizard designs into a repeat pattern suitable for bed linen.  I’m specifically concentrating on pillow slip edging and a larger bed runner design. However, I can see that … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Reading Material

Assignment 1 – Reading Material Most of my extensive internet research has been recorded on each post as I’ve gone along, additional internet addresses are recorded on my two storyboards next to the photographs I’ve used from the sites. The … Continue reading

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OCA Sydney get-together and more Poles!

Last Saturday saw the first get-together of the four (that we know about!) Sydney based OCA Textiles students. From left: Kath, Eva, myself and Judy. We all come from very different backgrounds but still found we have a lot in … Continue reading

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Cultural fusion – Stage 4 Conceptual & Expressive Piece

“Personal Messages” Totems My conceptual piece is about visual messages and how best to display these.  I was first drawn to this idea by the work of John Dahlsen and the impact his groupings of vertical poles had on me.   … Continue reading

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Road signs – Rosalie Gascoigne

Rosalie Gascoigne 1917- 1999 I first came across this Australian artist on-line whilst researching ideas for my road sign totems.  I wondered about the cut up yellow retro-reflective road signs she had reworked into fragmented and incomprehensible art pieces.  Was … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Stage 3b Creating a Portfolio

Road Signs Totem Design. These samples are all visual story ideas for my more conceptual and expressive totem piece that will be developed in stage 4. Concentrating on road sign imagery I have started designing some of my own.  These … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Stage 3a Creating a Portfolio

Lizard Totem Design. In the following samples I have attempted to use a variety of visual approaches for my gecko/lizard idea: curvy and minimalist, blocky and hard-edged, bright and dominant, muted and hidden, and stencilled simplification. Taking my inspiration from … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Stage 2c Contemporary design totem development

While working on my lizard totem samples I’ve been considering designs for a contemporary totem.  I am very taken with the work of John Dahlsen and the messages he is portraying.  He is trying to make the world aware of … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Further Research

I seem to be stumbling upon totems, especially poles, everywhere I look at the moment.  Here are a few samples of some of them. Talking and Listening Sticks by Susan Bowring-Miller From the tXtfiles Exhibition 2002 at the Lovett Gallery, … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Stage 2b Lizard totem development

Here – to the left – are a couple of drawings I did of geckos last year.  They are quite short and stocky with fat middles.   Goannas have a much longer and tapering tail than geckos and blue-tongued lizards, … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Jenny Orchard: Ceramic Totems

Jenny’s website explains her Zookinii’s and PlantAnimals very well.  An extract is below: “My Zookinii’s – PlantAnimals, PlantPeople and SoulFlowers are an irreligious, non prophet disorganization of recently departed extinct species and genetic labaroritory misfits who now reside in a … Continue reading

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Cultural Fusion – Stage 2a

Developing Source Material. This stage starts off with a couple of questions to think about: First, consider why you have chosen your particular subject.  What attracted you to it in the first place?  Do some brainstorming and make a list … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 John Dahlsen: Totems and more

Research – John Dahlsen Contemporary Australian Environmental Artist. I’m allocating a blog post solely to the work of John Dahlsen because I believe there are enough aspects to his pieces to justify it and it is also a good lead … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 Art, Artists & Totems

Research – Other Totem Interpretations Carol Lee Shanks. This piece entitled Totem comes from the Remains series of work by Carol.  Her website states that the Remains series began in 2009 when she had been working with wax paper and … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 Other totems

Research – Various Alaskan Totems Betsy Malloy from the California Travel website has kindly allowed me to use her images from 2005. I love these two totems.  I remember as a child we used to buy fancy ends to put … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 Haida Totem

Research into Haida totems. I have been in contact with Leslie Johnson of the Gowgaia Institute, Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada, regarding totem carvings of the Haida. Excellent information about these people is available on … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 Australian Aboriginal Totems

Research into Australian Aboriginal Totems. Whilst the previous post explored totems made in honour of a person who has passed away here I am looking at personal totems, those that are personal to either an individual or a clan.  I’ve … Continue reading

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Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 1 Tutini/Pukumani Poles

Research – Totems The brief is initially to research a textile or textile design from a specific culture.  We can take inspiration from any visual material including textiles in all their forms, decorative tiles, basketwork, pottery, etc.. Following on from … Continue reading

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Australian Museum Visit

This course starts with some research required into a source of personal interest and suggests using museum collections amongst other resources.  It goes on to suggest that students may like to arrange viewings of particular collection items with the relevant … Continue reading

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