Critical reflection

Creative intent

Throughout this module I intend to explore how nurturing my creativity aids my wellbeing.  This module for me will be all about mental health and how it affects different people in different ways.  I’m hoping I will have increased my knowledge to create pieces that will be inclusive of felt making, embroidery and drawing; finding different ways of exploring their uses through experimentation.

In turn this will allow me to explore different pathways to help others.

 Initial thoughts were to concentrate on what mental health meant to me and others and how it affects different people, however I decided to start with I would have lots of scope to work with just focussing on my own personal journey so far.

I hate being bipolar, it’s awesome!

 Chaotic painting depicting mania with the colour and depression with the black and white.

Acrylic and photocopy on paper.

Initially I had decided to focus on my personal experiences with mental health. The red represents what my friends said mania represents to them. I decided I wanted to do it from my point of view not theirs. It looks like blood. Not what I was wanting to achieve. I worked machine stitching over wire on the machine and manipulated it to make words. Tried different techniques including hand embroidery. Says I hate being bipolar, its awesome.

Silk paints on silk, hand embroidery, manipuilated stitched wire.

Creative development

Series: Cultures

Villasana, Victoria . (n.d). Series: Cultures. Victoria Villasana.

As my work became inclusive of my culture after group crits and tutorials I began creating a collage of images of me taken when unwell and other things that represent me.

Great pretender, my nickname. Broken ok- it is easier to say you’re okay than to explain yourself and deal with it. Semi- colon my story isn’t over yet depicts suicide attempts. I have used black and white images to depict depression colourful paper for mania.

Collage, stamps, pen.
heat transfer on denim, hand embroidery.
Heat transfer, hand embroidery.

Life is beautiful my friends tell me and sometimes I believe that also. Unless I am unwell. Here I have used denim, layers, bright colour stitches for mania, black and white heat transfer for depression. I liked it but decided to include African fabrics to introduce another part of me- my heritage. Ienjoyed working with the denim might possibly re- introduce it alongside the african fabrics.

Critical reflection

Introducing African culture. Looking at jewellery,  varied embroidery stitches, Including braiding in work, photography using skills gained in the workflow  labs, playing with light in photography and composition. I have enjoyed playing with texture and colour in both the fabrics and the threads. I think the contrast between the monochrome and colour are successful. Braiding adds texture and colour on an otherwise very dark background. The contrast between black and white and colour to represent both mania and depression is something I will continue to explore, alongside using images and words in my work. Taking risks. Building on confidence. I have had some time to explore new artists and a different culture. I have enjoyed this but feel I have just touched the surface and want to further develop my knowledgeand understanding of them.

I have enjoyed researching my heritage and creating studies that have been inspired by this.

Trying to heat transfer selfie images onto very busy fabric wasn’t so successful. I decided to overcome this by printing the images onto a lighter yellow cotton fabric, this resolved the problem and the image was much clearer, further on in the work I used white cotton  which worked just as well if not better, it enabled the images to be more clear. Sometimes the image when printed onto heat transfer became really dark, need to further explore both photography and maybe photoshop skills in order to deal with this. Attending the photography workflow helped with this

Experimenting with photography I had taken a few photographs to get one I was happy enough with.  Re- thinking my working process- not drawing first but using collage as a starting point instead. Group crits, tutorials and workflow have enabled me to develop my working practice in that I have  had the opportunity to explore a diverse range of avenues that have previously not been explored in my work.

  Through Constant reflection of working progress has enabled me to develop the way in which I have been working. Making time for creativity has been an integral part of the module.  Focusing on work and the final goal in mind had helped me develop my working practice.  Having a space to be creative and make work has helped lots as it is a delegated area intended just for those purposes. I feel if I didn’t have this space I may not have been as productive and or my house would have been one big craft fest.

The colour and texture in the studies are pleasing and I feel the composition is good, however it would be better with a different image or a smaller image, this is something I tried in my next few studies and found it to be more successful.

I have never worked with African fabrics before or explored mental health in work. Exploring words in work, would like to develop this further. Previously I have used drawing as a starting point, I have used collage and relied on inspirational artists etc as a starting point. I feel this has developed my creativity and broadened my way of working in terms of taking more risks and being confident in what I am doing and wanting to achieve.

Looking back at inspirational images helped keep me on track with my goals of what I wanted to achieve.  Spoken to friends and tutorials asking for feedback. Why I have done this is because of DNA and mental health diagnosis. Thought about what ive done and why. Keep going back To ,my goal and ensuring im working towards that goal. Don’t want the viewer to just think im a poser, thought about how I can portray this so they don’t.

Throughout the module I have reflected, photographed  and tried  to improve what I was trying to achieve. Rethinking my goals, rethinking my strategies and how I went about things. Constantly changing how I was doing things like introducing reverse applique as apose to applique. Questioning myself- is this what I was aiming to achieve? Took action on things I wasn’t happy with.  Why isnt it working? What can I do to improve? Asked for feedback and other peoples opinions. Researched again and went back to inspirational images to see what else I could try in order to achieve my creative goals.

Heat transfer- Unsuccessful due to busy fabric.
Heat transfer on yellow cotton, hand embroidery stitches.
Detail of above image.

African Commemorative Cloth: A Series

Miles, Tommy . (2013). African Commemorative cloth: A series.

Symmetry in some of the work, like the political fabrics I have been inspired by.  *Use of bold, African fabrics. Remaining positive during creating studies that sometimes I wasn’t pleased with. I found experimenting with a variety of African fabrics  and reverse applique made for a more successful  study than applique as not only was it more aesthetically pleasing it was also like a symbol of the revealing, the revealing of the African fabrics and thus my culture.Usin gboth Swahili and English words enabled me to project my dual heritage.

Political African fabric study

The free machine writing on the yellow and black fabrics, I would rather it be larger and clearer or  hand sewn. Sewing the images on using applique wasn’t very successful as I didn’t thing it was neat enough as it is in the images I am inspired by. I would like to try printing techniques so that they  don’t need to be stitched on. However due to covid and working at home this isn’t currently an option.  I have tried some hand stitching, however I feel the words need to be bigger to have more of an impact, his is something I want to try next.

Own political African fabric study

Working from home and not having all of the equipment available to me.  Free machining on small pieces of fabric, need to use larger pieces of fabric and draw the word out neatly. Not sure why I am obsessed with it being neat but I am. Symmetry in all of the pieces wasn’t there as in the political fabrics I have been inspired by, I did try to create this but it wasn’t always possible. Finding a good way to add words was a struggle as I  wasn’t keen o the machine embroidery and didn’t feel there was enough space to hand embroidered larger words. I order to combat this I decided to experiment with heat transferring words.  Group crits and tutorials have been priceless in terms of broadening my knowledge and guiding me in different directions, I enjoy experimenting with textiles and this module has certainly allowed for that. Having a sewing machine, heat transfer paper and fabrics at home as allowed me to create my own studio and continue being creative.

Using contextual research I have been able to remain focussed. Creating my own space for working has  aided me in being able to have a comfortable Normally I would begin with a drawing or a painting as I did in creative intent, however during this module I have favoured collage and heat transfer as well as machine and hand embroidery. I have enjoyed this way of working and feel it has pushed me to  take risks and experiment lots.   


Constant photographing work has enabled me to look and reflect on what it is im creating. I have been able to ‘test’ a variety of methods and compositions in order to get where I wanted to be with the work I have been creating. I feel on reflection that I would like to experiment more with printing techniques and hand embroidery.  Throughout this module my working practice has evolved and I feel that is a result of  both experimentation and  critical reflection. Would like to explore lots more embroidery.