• The Disruptive Designer

Owl and Rat - Presentation Format

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

13/06/2019 - Update on Progress and thoughts.

I recently had a tutorial with Robin at MMU and I verbally spoke about what I have decided and been up to since my presentation back in February.

I explained my decision regarding the Hand & Lock competition and using the owl canvas sample which showcases a range of different hand and digital techniques, but presenting it in a wooden bespoke frame based on a victorian weaving loom part, the heald. Construction of the frame I am collaborating with the Denby Dale Mens Sheds members but mainly doing most of the work myself under their support and guidance. Although the canvas was constructed primarily to ascertain whether or how I could embroider one image on a fully manufactured canvas, applying a combination of techniques, it's also a good opportunity to look at my work from an art piece perspective and think about how I would present it and allow for user interaction.

For me the story and the journey of making and narrative is just as important as the final outcome, so the question is: How can the story of the completed presented piece be told to the viewer in an exhibition environment?

The bayeux tapestry could hide the key to my conundrum. Clare Hunter in the book Threads of Life talks about the history and journey of the tapestry and how it has been analysed and interpreted over time. One thing she picks up on is the fact that theres no information regarding the people who actually embroidered it, documented anywhere. It is assumed given the 77 meter length, varying discrepancies in stitches, thread usage, styles and the many centuries the tapestry has survived (resulting in repair, additions, alterations etc) that many hands have worked on producing the narrative that exists today in its present form.

In 2017, based on the above tapestry concept of storytelling, a Games of Throwns version was created. To present this to a wider audience the www and digital technologies have been used. On the website, you are able to scroll the length of the piece, zoom in to see stitch detailing, click on icons to find out more about the story and even find out more about embroidery as a process. The piece is very intuitive and engages the online viewer, encouraging them to find out more.


I could adopt the same format for my owl and rat hand & Lock piece, however I currently do not posses the time or knowledge to put something like the above together. Also, I envisage this piece to be displayed in selected location and people encouraged to go and physically see it, as as Clare mentions in her book, embroidery is hard to appreciate through photographs and seeing the physical scale and touching the piece you get a heightened appreciation of the skill and craftsmanship that has gone into producing it.

If this piece is to be hung in static exhibition and its secrets not all given away online. Then one option to consider is the use of AR and smart devices, which could bring the piece to life. I decided to experiment with with an APP called HP Reveal (formally known as Aurasma) on my Iphone and using my canvas piece.

This APP allows the user to hold up their phone to the piece and when it hovers over areas, a video, text, picture or gif will appear, overlayed on the original area.

Given the fact the canvas is constructed using multiple techniques this methodology would be ideal to give the audience further insight into...

concept, methodology, meaning, technique, colour application, fabrication, the artist, emotional intent etc...

The videos also play sound, meaning audio narration is an option for those who find reading text on a device difficult.

The next stage is to consider the who pice of art and one and to work out the areas that are of interest and which formats are most suitable.

The above sketch is my initial thoughts giving the viewer a real mixture of history and context as well as meaning and methods. Of course one could argue that the viewer is entitled to interpret the piece however they want to, that is their freedom to do so. Since this information is only activated on smart devices using the APP, it is hidden from the physical world and the publics view, giving them the options to just view it and interpret or find out more if they wish. Its like a magician, I want to know how the trick is done, but at the same time I don't. I could easily Google it and the chances are someone will have exposed how the trick is done. My curiosity has been satisfied but then the trick is spoilt forever. I wonder if this applies to my work and whether exposing too much "how" will damage the desirability, maybe by explaining more about the "why, intent, context and history" would be a better alternative? I need to look at the ratios:

Meaning - intentions - technique - History - context - design - materials

15 : 20 : 10: 20: 10: 10: 15

This piece of work is therefore vital in many to my learning and thought process. A lot of techniques and methods are explored as well as collaborative involvement. Going through this process will help to inform my final piece moving forward.