I have found the field module this year has provided me with a great opportunity to grow as a practitioner and an individual, teaching me a number of transferable skills that I will definitely be able to draw on in the future of my practice. I was able to recognise the importance of both networking and independence in my practice, understanding the importance of sitting outside my comfort zone and mixing with new environments and ideas that I would otherwise shy away from.
Art and the Conscious Mind challenged my ability to interact with a rich range of subjects, theories, questions and ideas that I would perhaps otherwise overlook in the subject matter of my art, such as quantum physics and psychology and the philosophical implications of discoveries in these fields. I can recognise how exploring such a wide range of topics has really broadened my practice – the more that I am learning about subjects that I would usually overlook, the more questions I am asking, and the more ideas I am gathering. The module really enriched the places and subjects that I consider looking to for inspiration in my art, and I can see already how this is allowing me to create much more informed work. I grew in the knowledge of the debates and ideas surrounding the subject of ‘art and the conscious mind’ which has helped me to broaden my points of reference, but perhaps more significantly, I was able to see the real ability that art has to express nuances and experiences that perhaps are otherwise inaccessible through data and writing. It has challenged me as an artist to consider my position in the conversation that is happening between art, science, psychology and philosophy, recognising the significant role that art can have within this.
The second module of Field, ‘Tipping Point’, was also a hugely helpful opportunity. It provided me with practical experience of working within a more professional environment, whilst also prompting me to consider the significance that we as individuals can have on creating positive changes. Working closely with a climate change organisation, coupled with what this project has taught me about the wide and lasting impact that even small changes can have, has encouraged me to consider the environmental impact of my practice, and how I can live and work in a much more sustainable way. This is not something that I intend to directly tackle as a theme in my artwork, but it has really inspired me to consider the way that empathy and a view beyond my immediate environment can be involved in future practice. This sensitivity to social and environmental sustainability is an incredibly important aspect of art practice, and this project has really encouraged me to consider the importance of how we support and engage with one another in a working environment and also the significance that our work as artists and designers can have in a wider context.
The first few sessions that I had in ‘Tipping Point: An Agent for Change’ were really quite daunting! Sitting in the clean graphics studio reading through a list of objectives and dates, discussing how to develop a brief and awaiting the arrival of a client, I felt a bit like a fish out of water and if I’m honest, was regretting my choice of field group. However, I decided to stick with it, recognising that positioning myself outside my comfort zone would probably be a good opportunity for growth as an artist. This was definitely the right decision, and I found this option one of the most significant opportunities for growth that I have had in university so far.
This was a live brief, which meant working alongside a real client, the significance of this was the opportunity to experience a realistic working environment. As a result of its live nature, the project involved more structure than I am used to. In my artistic practice, I have really benefited from some of the skills that this structure gave. For example, I was able to see that rather than hindering creative process, being able to set and meet goals was actually improving my productivity. Instead of one large objective at the end of the project, we set milestones to meet along the way, which enabled me to work much more thoroughly and consistently. This is something that has definitely benefited me in my approach to the way that I work as an artist.
One main objective that the client emphasised was to consider how to create and nurture empathy between cultures that have significant social and geographical differences. Myself and my project partner Rebekah Seaman, looked to achieve this by creating a mascot and encouraging the children to create, personalise and then take this mascot to a favourite outdoor place in their community and take a photo, which they would then be able to share across the communities that they were partnered with through Size of Wales. I am incredibly pleased with the outcome, and how it was received by the clients. Working closely with an organisation taught me a lot about the importance of listening carefully and responding thoughtfully to the direct needs of a client. I am pleased that this became a strength of ours, and the clients noted in their feedback of our presentation that they were pleased with how well we had considered and met their specific concerns. I felt that we successfully and sensitively put forward a good practical way to achieve connection, empathy and communication across such a diverse range of communities. Encouraging those involved to value their own environment, and to also recognise the value and beauty found across the world, hoping that this would change attitudes and encourage people to reflect on the way that their behaviours (specifically linked with environmental issues) can have a global impact.
Below is documentation of the mascot itself and some prototype photographs of our intentions. Following this is a link to the presentation that we made to the clients, a creative narrative of how we hoped that the project would unfold in the future.
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Yesterday was our final pitch for the project – it took place at the ‘temple of peace’ in Cardiff, which was a really lovely place to end the project.
We are really happy with how our presentation went, and how it was received by our peers, tutors and by the team at Size of Wales. It was a really great end to a very interesting and beneficial 5 weeks working in ‘Tipping Point’. We really hope that Size of Wales takes on our idea, and will work with us to implement it and carry it forward into an active project.
Working with them in the future is something that looks like a real possibility, judging by the conversations we had with them following our pitch. Claire was really affirming of the way in which we had ticked many of the boxes of the organisation. We had kept in mind their message of empowerment and positivity, worked within the platforms that the organisation had available to them, and had proposed a project that was practically and financially viable for them. We really hope that the idea we have proposed to them has stuck and is something that we can continue to work on with them.
It is helpful to consider how our idea sits in relation to the 3 agents highlighted by Gladwell as necessary in creating a tipping point.
The Law of the Few
As well as being able to include myself and Bex under this, I can also recognise that the people that we are hoping to reach out to with this project will also act as the few that are needed to carry the intentions of the project forward. Size of Wales are able to easily access schoolchildren, we can recognise schools and partner schools across communities in Wales, South America and Africa that can be reached by the organisation quite effectively. By reaching out to these young people we hope to encourage a behaviour change, both in them and anyone that they need the support of to implement changes. We hope that by changing the way individuals feel towards other communities far from their own, it will create a passion and a care that will spread.
The Stickiness Factor
Our stickiness factor is the pride that individuals have in the places they love and the want to share what they are proud of with others. I also think that this project idea would stick as it creates an opportunity for people to engage with new, exciting places and also themselves become ambassadors for their own loved places, that they can then share with lots of other people around the world. We also hope that the character of Sow in itself would become part of what will make this idea stick, if we can get people relating to and engaged with the character in some way – then this will hopefully encourage people to sustain an interest and relationship with the project.
The Power of Context
It was important for us, from the beginning, to find an idea that was able to fit into and travel across multiple contexts. We hope that the idea that we have proposed is able to achieve this. The nature of the idea, pride and appreciation of your environment, is something that I think is able to reach into many different contexts. Considering the idea within the immediate context to us, in the West and more specifically Wales we can see how the use of social media can play a large part in the unfolding of this idea. In a society of viral trends and online sharing, we have a very helpful platform from which we can launch this project.
We wanted to explore how Sow would fit into different environments. We also thought we’d start the activity of photographing Sow in places important to us, and so took Sow around Cardiff for a photo shoot. I managed to persuade my sister to come with me and help me with this. We got a few funny looks, however this actually allowed me to consider how the photographing part of the activity can become a powerful part of getting people engaged with the organisation. Carrying Sow around publicly is an out of the ordinary activity which does turn heads, especially if its being photographed. We had quite a few people looking at us whilst we took photographs. Hopefully, this could encourage questioning and raise awareness for the work organisation.
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The process of making an initial prototype has begun, I am struggling at this stage as I have very little skill in the area of sewing or making 3D objects. I was able to provide a lot of the tools and hunted around for recycled material that we could use to make Sow out of. I then handed the making side over to Bex, who is much more competent in this area!!
In fact, to illustrate the differences between our 3D work ability here is a quick glimpse into the start of the progress. I really wanted to be an active part of the making, as I wanted to make sure we shared responsibilities equally, and so I suggested that I create a guide for Bex to make the mascot from, and then she could continue and work from what I had made. I began working on the template and had great difficulties picturing how it could be made, how the shapes would fit together and what the shapes even needed to be. It spent around 2 hours and still couldn’t figure it out. I then spoke to Bex, within 30 seconds she was able to tell me what shape it needed to be and how it could fit together. The decision was pretty clear as to who the mascot making would be ascribed to.
Here are some images from this process. Following the making of the mascot, I created some templates (I could figure it out that way round) – the templates act as an easy way to allow each school to create and customise their own Sow.
Throughout this project we have been considering how to encourage an idea to go viral, a while ago we came up with the tagline ‘Capture the Beauty’ to summarise our concept. Having now developed a fair amount of visual content, we want to explore how our project would look when active, on social media and on the Size of Wales’ website. We feel this will benefit our pitch by allowing us to demonstrate to the organisation the way in which our idea would sit on the platforms that they already use and also encourage them to see our project as one that could easily become active, and had the capability of becoming a real viral trend.
Here are some mock ups of how the project may look when active.
Size of Wales webpage