Textiles 1: Ideas and Processes Nina O'Connor

Learning Log

Words & writing – Research point 1.1

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We are asked to think about de Waal’s choice of words and how they add to the ‘picture’.  The way he uses metaphor is a reflection of his immersion in the subject and gives the viewer more information with which to build a picture and interpretation of his work both written and practical.  The phrase “the spaces between things” can be interpreted in many ways. Since reading the words at the beginning of the assignment, they have come to mind to describe spaces in composition to allow the drawing to speak louder; the ‘thinking’ space, the time needed to reflect and consider options; spaces to balance and contrast with more intense activity.  My conclusion, the interpretation of “the spaces between things” will depend on the mood of the speaker or recipient and the context in which it is used.

Looking at examples of artworks that make direct use of words to convey meaning:

Tracey Emin’s work Everyone I Have Ever Sept With 1963-1995. 

Viewed from a photograph, this piece did not particularly resonate with me but the recommended article Something’s wrong was thought provoking and the sketch Why I Never Became a Dancer 1995 referred to by Melanie McGrath so emotive that I was prompted to look at some of her other work.

Before beginning this course, in my naivety, my views on art were limited to whether I found things visually appealing or a desire to examine the processes, whereas now I am beginning to acknowledge the emotive effect of some pieces.  Tracy Emin’s ability to provoke an emotional reaction in me is powerful and I find her use of text in some cases strengthens my response.    The hand painted/printed text aspects of her drawings and paintings add to the desolation portrayed.

Martin Creed’s work Mothers

My response to Martin Creed’s work was less emotional and I had to resort to a YouTube video by him to help my understanding of the piece.

His words were interesting, particularly when commenting on how the size of text affects meaning.  I also found his thoughts on the importance of ‘mothers’ moving when expressed in person, but the revolving boom with lit letters spelling ‘MOTHERS’ did not represent the same sentiments to me.

Simon Patterson’s Great Bear (1992) 

My response here was interesting, I found the piece visually appealing as it is so familiar to me as the London tube map, but might have missed the detail had it not been pointed out that each line represents a particular group of people.

At this point, in this context, text as a visual addition or hand written expressing personal emotion seems more powerful to me than ‘typeface’.   Somehow typeface itself is quite uninteresting to me, so the actual words expressed need to resonant strongly to make themselves heard over the unexciting nature of the type.

The following Pinterest board includes examples of artwork that make direct use of words to convey meaning.

Having deduced above that typeface isn’t particularly exciting to me, it is interesting to note that this notion is reflected in my choice above.  The most appealing enjoy the character of handwritten words, or the visual texture of hanging thread and uneven, overlapping paper surfaces.  Although I was moved by Tracey Emin’s monoprints and handwritten comments, I am less enamoured of her quilting which predominantly include text in capital letters.

I found Louise Bourgeois’ pieces that include text deliver a strong message and sought the source of a quote someone had made on Pinterest. These quotes appear to come from a book “Louise Bourgeois” by Marie-Laure Bernadac, published by Flammarion in Paris mentioned in an article dated 3/6/2007 by  Suzanne Muchnic LA Times.
Louise Bourgeois

My work is a form of psychoanalysis. It is a way of coming to grips with my anxiety and fears. It is an attempt to be a better person.


There is a lot of ambivalence in the work. There are many hanging pieces, which signify a fragile state. There are pieces that oscillate and rock, which also convey fragility. We all have pink days and blue days. I am trying to seek a balance between the extremes that I feel. I want to be reasonable.

These quotes were thought provoking as although I can’t relate directly to her views, I am beginning to see that my work is helping me to understand myself better and reinforce what is important to me.

As an exception to my apparent preference for handwritten text, I was interested to come across Richard Long who walks in the landscape, creates installations and related textworks.  Here, in some cases, I was able to join his journey and his words raised a smile on understanding his descriptions but most notable was the “Long Circle of Words”.  I liked the aesthetic, the creation of an organic flower by the pattern of words and the combination of adjectives describing the journey.








One thought on “Words & writing – Research point 1.1

  1. A very interesting post with lots of clear referencing and Pinterest notes. I really like the way you have a clear framework for the way you set out your work.


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