Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part Three: Project 7 - Starting a Theme Book

A Theme Book? So many ideas, so little time to do them all..

The course book says that this should be a book of visual information based around a theme of your choice.
What happens in the theme book will contribute to project 10, which is the Design Project.

The main remit in choosing a theme is that I should be able to respond to it with excitement and involvement.
Some of the suggestions are flowers, machinery, buildings, landscapes, animals, birds, dreams, textiles of other cultures, children's toys, things from your home environment......

I have had some ideas, so will share my thought process so far.

First thought:
I started with the words
  • Reflections
  • Natural forms
I wanted to have a word that sparked a conversation, a narrative and although I knew that I could use either of these words successfully, I felt limited by the thought of where either of them would lead.
I worry that I may be making things too complicated, simple is often best.

Second thought:
Another favourite theme that I return to again and again, but never take it further:
  • Maps and Journeys
I listed the ideas that were sparked by these words:
  • A travel journey
  • A day in your life
  • How far you travel emotionally
  • The marks on maps
  • An emotional journey
I have been inspired by two books which use this theme:
  • The Map as Art - contemporary artists explore cartography (link)
  • William Kentridge Tapestries (link)
It may be that this theme is too important to me, I cannot see how I would move it forward.
I know that once a theme is chosen, it will naturally go down a path, design development will flow, but this theme will have to keep for now.
Looking through the Map as Art book, leads you to think how many people are inspired by this topic and how varied their results are.

Third thought:
My next word was
  • Impression
The ideas that were sparked from the word impression are:
  • An imprint
  • A feeling
  • Being impressed
  • Something important
  • Make yourself be remembered
  • Marking of time
I didn't feel inspired by this thought flow, so left this idea.

Fourth thought:
The word
  • Discarded
this led to the following ideas:
  • Things left behind
  • Ideas made clear
  • Sorting through, clearing out
  • A friendship lost
  • Packaging - excessive, so thrown away
At the moment this word has led to more thoughts, I'll share these.

A quote from a book by Jo Nesbo 'The Leopard'
It was like that for me when my father died. His things so irreplaceable, seemed to lose their meaning. It was as if he alone was the one who had given them value.
This resonated with me, the things we hold on to, what will become of them in the future, will they be thrown away, discarded?

I am an inveterate hoarder of 'things that may be useful' I wonder sometimes if I am afraid to throw things away to discard them.
My thoughts were: Being so afraid to throw things away that they start to gain an importance, the item is revered, what happens when a house gets fuller and fuller?

Discarded items are found objects in art, there is the use of terms like vintage, reclaimed. The idea that it is 'new' to reuse and recycle.

I read an article a few years ago written by Michael Moore (can't find it now but...) it was written in the future with Michael Moore talking to his grandchild.
The child tells his grandfather how clever their generation was to preserve everything in plastic. The child is referring to the use of rubbish being bagged up - they can discover history easily as none of the objects have rotted or perished in any sense. We discard everything these days - and wrap it up for posterity in the process.

Discarded: waste and the way we shop

Day at the beach: the things that are washed up. How did they get there? Gwen Hedley's work

The leaflets we pick up and 'collect' - why?

The memories we collect, later to be thrown away - maybe failing memory, or just time has passed.

To declutter, to risk throwing away something important

Moving: leaving behind homes, possessions, people

One mans trash is another mans treasure

The inability to stop shopping

Discard - to make room for new - displacement

We have gone from a society where things were expensive and only the rich could afford - now there's a glut of cheaper, more disposable items, what will happen if we don't change?

Landfill, excess packaging

Cleaning products, always the 'next new wonder product' - but what did they use in the 1950's?

So this will be my word.
I have no idea where it will lead at the moment, but I am excited and inspired by the thought process that has come from this word.


  1. This is so interesting! Far beyond art, more like philosophy. I think it'd be interesting to imagine someone from the past trying to work out what some of our rubbish today actually is - the example I think of is those rigid plastic container for bought sandwiches. They are ubiquitous now but didn't exist 20 years ago, you can imagine a quiz game where people tried to work out what they were used for....

  2. I'm hoping to use some 'discarded materials' in the finished piece - I like the quiz idea though... I can only imagine that those plastic containers will be 'as good as new' in a hundred years.