Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mind Maps

Each week, the research students from the School Fashion and Textiles try and get together to participate in a workshop or ‘reading group’ session. The role of researcher can be a lonely task, so these sessions are good way of re-connecting with each other, and to catch up with happenings both inside and outside the college. Since I have been nervously preparing for my first interim exam (I haven’t had such a formal assessment for at least six years, it has been surprising to remember how daunting exams can be), I was wondering if it was such a wise use of time to attend last week’s session, but as it turned out, fortunately I did. Hosted by Harriet Edwards, a researcher in the college, we participated in a workshop on drawing and ‘mind mapping’. The theme of the workshop was ‘’intuition’’, and after a brief introduction by Harriet we were all asked to help ourselves to paper and drawing materials and to make a sketch about our thoughts on the process of intuition in our work. The image above is my own attempt this, using a biro pen on grey paper. After 10/15 minutes we were each asked to stop and to show our drawings to the rest of the group and explain a little about them in turn. Following this we asked to do some writing on the same theme, and again read out our efforts, if we wanted to, or to talk more generally about our thoughts. With our agreement, the session was partly recorded and documented by Harriet to use in her own current research study.

In many ways this was a useful very workshop for all of us, taking us away from our normal everyday routine, and re-connecting us to the possibilities of different processes that can be used for research. In general I do not view my work as that of someone who is a ‘maker’ or ‘producer’ so it was interesting to be asked to express something through the act of drawing, as opposed to writing. And yet, going through my own notebooks I notice how many rough sketches and strange doodles are included, seemingly unconnected to the words, and yet the words wouldn’t be relevant without them. In working through the process of research, this workshop was also revealing to me in realising how much of what I do is connected or derived from ‘intuition’ or the ‘intuitive’. Often an idea or concept for a piece of work, whether written or practical, begins in a state of flux, and from that initial components of the core idea are composed. From this I’ll perhaps attempt to see how they fit together or can be ordered in some way, sometimes finding quite disparate things fit very well, while seemingly logical things do not fit in at all. After this; putting everything into some kind of concrete whole appears possible, but even after careful ordering and composition some things still do not quite fit, and so remain outside the work or concept. Yet sometimes those ‘discarded’ bits are the most interesting, and turn out not to be so useless after all, opening up the possibility for new ideas, concepts and projects.

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