Research: the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
Wonderful, rewarding, engrossing research. I love it!
I have learnt to love to research. Investigation into one thing has led me down many different, exciting and interesting new paths – ones I hadn’t even thought about. That’s the joy of research. Knowledge is power, but I don’t know what I don’t know. It’s that rabbit hole of the unknown I find fascinating. Which way will I go? What will I do with this knowledge? Does it matter? Not at all. But it’s there, just waiting to add to, draw upon, seek out, probably when I least expect it. Plus, being inquisitive keeps me young! Who knew?
‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young’. Henry Ford.
My work ‘Vortex’, above is a great example of my rabbit hole analogy. I was invited to submit a work into the Newcastle exhibition ‘Stitched Up’, based on the girls forced into the Newcastle Industrial School during Australian Colonial times. I knew nothing about this history, so research was definitely required. I investigated the written history, the actual site in Newcastle, histories of some of the girls and even Colonial times in Australia. There were so many paths I could have taken, but during some of this research I came across an artist whose work I admire greatly. Chiharu Shiota. Her work is so powerful, delicate and intricate. That one crossing of paths led me in a totally different direction and inspired the work above. Research promotes growth and growth is good.
Learn: gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.
Research leads me to investigate further and dig deeper into something I’m interested in and that leads me to learn and grow. It gives substance to me personally and as an artist and one day, who knows when, I may just use that information. But learning isn’t just about opening a book or surfing the net, it’s also about honing my skills, experimenting, sometimes failing, but giving something new a go. I love to push myself. So while knowledge is power, so too is perfecting techniques and experimenting – very technical terms for having fun, and thinking outside the square. I know my technique, but what can I do to reinvent, reinterpret and update it? Studying traditional techniques is vital to understanding any technique. Sampling is something I utilise often to see where I can take my work further – or even just to change it up a bit. I never know where I’ll end up and that’s exactly where I want to be. Learning opens possibilities.
Education: the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction.
Whenever I can, I attend workshops by people who inspire me. They are not always stitch related, but they’re always worthwhile. It’s important for me to continue that educative process. I’ve just begun a new e-Course which is pushing me in so many new ways. Teaching is also a great way for me to consolidate what I do and interacting with students is a way for me to learn from them.
Research, Learning and Education completes level two of my Hierarchy of Design triangle. Design is next. Magical, fruitful design!
Cathy Jack Coupland, Australian Textile Artist