Thomas Reynolds: My Research and Ideas

To start with going to Chetham’s Library helped me get started with my ideas. It set me off looking at the big name bands and acts that played there in the late 60’s and 70’s. This might have got me off to a quick start but I only came up with one idea off that and it was a vague one at that so it may have hampered me overall. I carried this line through a couple of weeks research and the visit to the Manchester Histories festival. After this I started looking at a map of the Belle Vue site and deconstructing it to get a closer look at the shapes of the buildings from an aerial perspective, this sent me off on a better line of enquiry with more potential in my opinion.

bellevue1931mapFrom the 1931 guide book. It covers all the main attractions as well as notable landmarks on site.

Succeeding my research on Belle Vue I started to look at craftspeople that use maps in their work and also work that uses layers and different heights throughout. This came from looking at ordnance survey maps and picking up on the way hight is depicted. Looking at my research it seemed a natural progression to try and incorporate layering into my work. I’ve started doing wire tests and stacking them together in different ways to achieve different effects. I’ve also started combining sheet metal with wire work to start creating backgrounds for the outlines of the wire.

All the shapes that comprise this test are taken from a map of Belle Vue.

I looked at Ben Nicholson’s relief sculptures and to me they seem more idea led whereas someone like David Nash lets the material take the lead. I try to find out what the material can do to start with and then work my ideas round that rather than force my will onto a material. If this research has shown me anything it is that both methods of practice are perfectly valid and that it’s the influences that an individual takes on board that determines how they decide to work. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get to the joint shelter workshop with interactive arts so I’m going to really try and get to the ones coming up after Easter.

1939-44 (painted relief) 1939-44 by Ben Nicholson OM 1894-1982Red.column.Nash


I like how Nicholson has really thought about how to layer this piece using colour to bring parts forward or push them back.

Nash’s handle on his chosen material is astounding he can bring out it’s natural properties and bring them to the forefront.


Considering everything I’ve learnt from my research I can start to see some differences in practice throughout the members of my group. While multiple members are interested in creating jewellery some take a craft focused approach, embracing the materials properties and incorporating them into their work. While others prefer to design first and have a clear idea of what they want to make from the get go. This type of approach in my experience lends itself to a more functional piece as there are more typically variables to think about. There are also two subgroups that have emerged as designs have started to come together. One set prefer to work in metal and the other in ceramics, I personally would like to try and combine both approaches and use multiple materials in my designs. In the future I might try working from a more design focused perspective to gain some insight into how other practitioners tackle a brief. At group meetings we normally run through everyone’s  research and ideas from the previous week and then what they’re planning to do in the forthcoming week so if we’ve come across something that relates to another members project we share ideas and material, then in the following meeting we can see if and how they’ve responded to the information provided.


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