Evaluating the FMP

Evaluating the whole process. 

Thinking back to my proposal and the original concept of wanting to explore portraiture and emotion and feeling through expression reminded me of this quote from Walt Whitman.


The starting process for my work, was to examine the current refuge crisis and take inspiration from the emotions shown through their eyes and especially those of the children. This gave me the freedom to explore portraiture. what I discovered through this process was that my mood started to become effected by the distress of the situation I was trying to portray. The pictures I was concentrating on where predominatly black and white which was appropriate for the context of the subject matter, yet was creating a darkness and gloom.

What I noticed start to happen was an involuntary use of colour in my work, I was being drawn to inspiration form artist’s who in the main use colour. What I discovered was that I naturally wanted to lift my mood by introducing colour.

This in turn led to an inter respective look at myself and the reasons why I produce art, this led naturally onto self portraiture. I found a need  to reflect and deliberate as I had to examine my feelings around showing self portraits and the uncomfortableness I felt around displaying pictures of myself. The journey and maturity necessary to examine my internal emotions on the subject reflected the passage of my life that would be represented in the three different age’s.

Contemplation and consideration was given over to how I would construct the portraits and I felt that to keep the context of my previous work and mediums that I feel confident with, that I would construct the portraits with a type of stitch. I also decided to represent my life in three age periods.

This led to many experiments, I still like print and I explored mono, lino, hand painting with inks  and screen printing. I discarded mono printing as the effect was too blurred and didn’t give a clear identifiable portrait. I found that with practice the linocut improved in clarity yet I would need a large piece of lino which would implement on the final costings greatly to produce the size of images I wanted, so I decided to settle on screen printing.  I used photoshop to blur, distort or change the images to allow greater freedom for the final stitch. These altered images where then used for the final screen prints.

I spent time stitching fabric portraits of my face with scraps of fabric influenced by artist such as Sophie Standing and Hetty-Van-Zande but was unhappy with the final results they looked to untidy and unprofessional. I spent time with using inks to paint the portraits and then stitch fabric on top but yet again I was unhappy with the final process.

I started the screen printing process and wanted to introduce four colours orange, black, yellow and turquoise.  I tried various combinations of screen printing and when reflecting back on my experiments the ones which where overlapped and gave a blurred look to my portrait where the ones I prefered. I chose to use muslin fabric in preference to thicker fabrics as I wanted to create a sense of transience which I felt represented the passage of time well. I also was encouraged by a fellow student in one of the critiques to place the portraits in front of each other to allow the viewer to see through each portrait to give a sense of context to the passing of time.

I also discovered that black, yellow and orange became my preferred colours as they gave a riot of colour that was I wanted because I wanted a joyous celebration of life that I felt was represented well with bright colours. I discard the turquoise.

I experimented with various different styles of stitch. I also wanted to allow the stitch to grow as I wanted to have an experimental feel to my final pieces. I was looking for freedom of expression in my stitch. The burring of images through screen printing also increased my confidence in producing self portraits as they gave an essence of my face yet still kept the clarity of the portrait and allowed for experimentation that would naturally happen through stitch.

I knew that I wanted to complete the three portraits with different types of stitch to challenge myself and show different skills.

Each piece required hours of work as they needed a build up of colour to give the effect that I wanted, I also discover that the more I worked each portrait the better it looked. The hand stitched portrait had many layers of built up colour to give a sense of pigmentation and shading in the features and contours. Also consideration had to be given to continuity and unity with in the project as each one was different. I used the same background fabric, thread colour and the backing hessian to complete this.

Many different considerations had to be given to the final display as to whether I would want the fabric free flowing or attached to the frame. I decided on attaching the portraits to a frame as the rigidity this gave would allow the viewer to see the portrait clearly. I spent time experimenting with coloured perspex  attached to the back of each portrait and decided that the portraits would look better with coloured gels on a spotlight shining through. As I found that the reverse of the work added interest to my work I hung the pictures to allow the viewer to walk around each portrait to look at the front, back and through all three images.

Am I happy with the end result? yes, would I have done things different ?I would use different mediums to construct different portraits and experiment with different types of print, fabric and stitch but I am happy with the overall finished look. This project  has also helped me to discover a little more about who I am as an artist and what is my preferred medium. I have been able to examine the thought and decision making process around work that is personal to me. Reflection has been with me at the start and the evoloution of the work . I have discovered not only the skills of different mediums but also about myself.


Hanging the final pieces

The final day arrived after working as a team to curate the exhibition space with all that curation takes place, it was the time to decide which position was the best for my pieces that was also complimented by the other pieces in the exhibition.

After deliberation of how to hang the pieces with tutors and other students, I knew that I wanted to hang all 3 pieces in front of each other as was aforementioned but I was unsure if I wanted the heights staggered.

The first attempt was to hang from a microphone stand in the middle of the exhibition space but I wasn’t happy with the height I wanted higher. I want the viewers to look up to the pictures and be able to walk around and through them.

It was suggested that I use a window opening pole and paint it white and suspend it from a back wall.

This required a weight behind the wall to keep the pole in place and hold the pictures. Each piece does not weigh heavy, which proved to be an advantage with the final hanging.

After solving the back of the frame issue I discussed possibilties of how to hang the pieces, I had to decide what was the best method to allow a little movement but I did not want the pieces to swing.

I thought about fishing wire and thin wire but in the end decided to use metal rods going through both the pole and frame. I was lucky enough to to find some aged copper metal rods that had discoloured, yet matched the rust colours in my pictures.

The next dilemma was do I stagger the height of the pictures or not? This was only resolved with seeing both options and asking opinions and the final decision was to be at the same level.

We had positioned the pole near a plug socket to be able to use lights to allow the viewer to see through all 3 peices of work.

Hitting presentation problems

I thought that I had solved the issue of covering unsightly raw edges on the frames by covering the staples with double sided sticky tape and then with matching bias binding. I completed this Monday and thought the frames were ready for hanging .

On Wednesday I came to the studio and heat of the exhibition space had lifted the double sided tape and the bias binding was falling off. Time to rethink.

I wanted to use invisable tape to attach the binding as my previous use of staples looked unsightly and not to a high standard. I decided to experiment with sticky velcro and attached a sample and left the piece in the studio overnight to see if that too fell off.

|This was sucsessfull  and I had to add further expense to purchase satin ribbon that had to be wider to cover the raw edges of the velcro. Should I use black for all three or continue with my original idea of using the colours used in the production of the pieces. After further experimenttion I decided the complimentary colours added cohesion to the presentation.


Curating the final exhibition space.


The workroom space has to be transformed to a proffessional exhibition area. This has required the group to lift and carry, scrub, sand, paint and clean. The photos show the transformation in just 3 days.

As students we have the chance to experience a taste at being an art curator for the duration of displaying the final exhibition.

A curators job can be compared to that of a movie director who is in control of every aspect of the production and starts with  vision and uses various methods to achieve this.


This is the part where the curator imagines and designs the overall theme or story for the exhibition.

Things to consider for this process are

  • whats the purpose of the exhibition
  • how much space have is there
  • budget
  • cliental and expected visitor numbers
  • The artworks to be displayed

Before the curator begins a design needs to be drawn up taking into account meauserments of the space , materials already available and budget allowed.

It is extremely useful to visit other exhibitions to get the feel of what conveys a successful and innovative exhibition and what conveys a poor exhibition.

The curator needs to consider the juxtapositions between the various artworks displayed to capture the imagination and intrigue of the visitors especially on entering.

I once visited an exhibition in Bulgaria that showcased in a derelict warehouse. The natural light and breeze and added interest and enhanced each piece.



 The group started out with clearing away both rubbish and everyday art and design items. Then we needed to scrub, board out the areas and paint al the space white. We were reminded that this will be a relevant and important part of any future exhibitions we are wanting to display our work in.

Decisions had to be made about whose pieces would hang where and how the curators needs to consider how each piece will look in the space and which pieces need to be hung together for the best effect.

The process was made more difficult because not all the pieces where in the studio space and it was hard to make the final decision.

Finally the space began to take shape and the transformation began, this added to the energy of the process and when we started to see all the final pieces that students where bringing in a renewd sense of pride and excitment took over.



Peer critique on the final installation 

I spoke with a fellow student about my plans to set a light behind the images to allow the viewers to see through all 3 pieces. He suggested placing colour Perspex which is attached to each frame and then the lights will pick up colours. We spoke about the colour pallet and weather to use coordinating or contrasting colours.

Difficulty of framing.

I would have found the whole process of framing easier if I had been able to frame first then stitch into secondly. That wasn’t possible due to the feasibility of stitching on a machine with a large frame. So the only conclusion was to frame at the end.

My work was always going to have an abstract, uneven edge and disparate feel to it because the work is self portrait and that is how I feel best describes me.

Yet as I discovered stretching muslin fabric with uneven edges on to a wooden frame requires continual measuring as the fabric moves and stretches out of shape. This discovery was unexpected and required a certain amount of problem solving, unpicking, repeat measuring.

In the end I measured ,stapled and re measured every few staples.

Tutorial with Technician 

I was concerned that the sheer wait of muslin fabric would be difficult to stitch. Gwyneth suggested that I would need to use a hoop larger a stitches and sharp needles.

Gwyneth has offered support on colour mixing, how to prepare screens and choices in fabrics.

If we want a screen or dyes, colours and use of machines we ask her by job request. She then gives us a predicted time and date that the materials will be available. This takes planning and time management.

The same goes for Bill who prepares frames and helps with the kiln or other 3D requirements.

Finishing off piece no 2 

Dyeing hessian to make a border for all 3 pieces to give unity.

This piece was to be a culmination of different skills used in the first two pieces. I wanted to use a variety of media to represent variety of life and experience learnt as represented by this stage of life. The starches are overlaid a screen print which has three blurred images of myself used to give a representation of age through the blurring.

I have used

  • tea bags
  • hessian threads
  • wool
  • embroidery silks
  • machine stitch
  • hand stitch.
  • dyed fabric