Presenting student work: Ruth Venables yarn collection for A Textiles Vocabulary - The Open College of the Arts
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Presenting student work: Ruth Venables yarn collection for A Textiles Vocabulary

At our recent assessment event I had the pleasure of seeing work by Ruth Venables. She had just completed Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary which is the first unit at Level 1 (HE4) in the textiles degree pathway and as such an introductory course to our textiles degree at OCA. It has a section that asks students to create a collection of yarns based on the exercises carried out in the previous parts of the course. The aim is to build on earlier work, to explore linear qualities and possibilities and create work to be further developed in the final part of the course. It is possible to find the task confusing as many of us have entrenched ideas as to what a yarn is. What I hope to do in sharing Ruth’s work is illustrate how playful and exploratory this part of the course can be.

Part four, yarn and linear exploration is a great opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and imagination. What makes this particular student’s yarns so exciting is that she has clearly been inspired and demonstrates so well that she has been stimulated by her source material. Whether this is her secondary research in the form of a medieval artwork or her primary research in the colour studies of glass vessels, there are clear links and reference points between her work and its creative source. For example she interprets the shapes seen in the medieval artwork through crochet to create something unique. By looking with care at her source material and using her imagination the student has located forms, textures and colours to be explored. This has led to a wide range of yarns that reflect the work and thinking carried out prior to the exercise.

Another reason this collection is strong at assessment is that the student has used a wide range of conventional and unconventional materials to create her yarns, including wood, metal and clay. This demonstrates a willingness to be broadminded and a desire to take risks that ultimately result in innovation. This is clearly exhibited in her use of hammered metal spoons to create the shapes seen in her fabric swatch. This type of playful exploration is essential when working towards a textile degree as it leads to new and a personal approach to textiles.
Despite the risk taking and original use of materials this student has created the work sensitively and with a considered approach leading to a high level of craftsmanship. This neat and particular manner of working ensures the work is seen in a professional light. Ruth shows this in the way she puts materials together but also in the way the work has been presented.

The final comment I want to make about this body of work is that Ruth uses her experiences of yarn creation to inform the final personal project. It is really important whilst studying any of the textile units and in particular A Textiles Vocabulary not to see the parts of the course as entirely separate tasks but instead to use prior learning to affect later sections. This will encourage the development of a final body of work that demonstrates how your studies have made an impact on the way you work as a textile practitioner.

Posted by author: Rebecca Fairley
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