Siân Morgan: Collaborative Working and Project Outcomes

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I believe that our team managed our project quite successfully, all of us have fully fledged, interesting ideas and our final pieces as well as representative samples were ready to be displayed by the time our exhibition came around. I think we worked together well, communication is one of the key challenges when working in a team and due to our early adoption of a facebook group all of us could very easily send quick messages that everyone could see and respond to in a very quick fashion. The only time I think we could have communicated is more is during the Easter break, we had three whole weeks away from each other and perhaps we should have at least touched base once a week. I personally changed a lot of my work during this time, changing my material from acrylic to fabrics and I also was quite ill so didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. I believe my communication with the group was not as good as it could have been, partly due to my own quiet nature and the fact that my illness was not physical, so I felt wary sharing it with others. I now feel more prepared to share my views, feelings and any set backs I have with any future groups because my group was very understanding as well as being a very level-headed group who nurtured easy discussion.

Getting the team roles correct is also a key challenge for any group work, I think our group got this right after our first “Identifying Team Roles” activity. Bethan was an excellent Project Manager, her organisation and eye for detail meant we all kept together and meetings ran very smoothly. She was also an excellent mediator and negotiator, in the beginning Jo was very focussed on our theme being animal based, but seeing how Tom wasn’t so keen on this idea Bethan gave us a more general theme, which all of us could all interpret in our own way. Tom proved to be a great Editor, the blog is a credit to him and the work he put into it. Whenever we were writing our group blogs his skill with words helped us write some very nuanced and well worded posts. Jo’s contribution to the exhibition was also invaluable, her idea of us all having cards with photos and explanation on was a great idea, which made our set up look professional.

I was co-Head of Research with Laura, I tried to make myself available to the others in my group and gave my opinion on their work and where it could go during our meetings. Later on, I realised that I had not taken my role as far as I could have, as other group’s Head of Research had organised trips, brought in props, shared materials and books to help spark further creativity in their responses. I think I was not forceful enough in my role as I am naturally quite a reserved, quiet person, I have definitely learnt from this experience that I should try to take charge more as well as thinking outside the box where team roles are concerned. I also fell into the trap of becoming a little too focused on my own work because I had not done as much as I would have liked over Easter I was trying to play catch up with myself, which tore my attention away from team role. Next time I would organise my time more effectively as well as trying to establish my team role and what it could entail much earlier on.

Working as a group was very different from working alone, I personally found it more difficult as I find working with others more stressful than working alone, but at the same I feel all the people in our group put even greater effort into our work because we did not want to let our team down. I think working in this particular group has dulled my fears a little as everyone was very easy to work with and listened well to every member of the team.

Our mid-point review was not as well organised as it could have been, I think we all slightly rushed our parts, unfortunately we were also not as there early to go through it once. I think without the practice run we were thinking of doing, we did quite well. I personally am very bad at speaking in large groups and the added pressure of tutors in the room made me a little tongue-tied. I have a problem accurately conveying my ideas to other people through speech, but I think the only way I will get better is by continuing to practice.

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The meeting with the Interactive Arts students was absolutely wonderful for me. Despite being in front of several people I did not know I felt I got my ideas across much better than at the mid-point review. I also received a lot of very good advice about my project. I had been experimenting with making wearable in a rosette shape to link it back to greyhound racing effectively. I was told I had to make sure it didn’t look too floral or overly positive as this would erode my message. I was given suggestions of making it in leather, distressing the fabric or using metal to toughen up the piece. It was a really great experience and made feel more confident about my work as well as my ability to communicate with others about my projects.

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My outcome can be best summed up by the text that was placed on my photo cards at the exhibition:

“My research into Belle Vue was focused on greyhound racing as the tracks are one of the only areas of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens that still stand in the area. I read about the thousands of greyhounds “put down” every year for no humane reason and studied the bones found in breeder’s yards. The shapes of the vertebrae are beautiful and symmetrical, they reminded me of Rorschach test cards, which are a psychological evaluation through the use of ink blots. My final piece is a pair of brooches shaped like rosettes, made of leatherette, fabric and paint primarily, echoing both the political and pageantry of the rosette shape. The ink blots ask the question “What do you see?”, this question can be taken in many ways and is purposefully vague. Some people see skulls or blood, others animals or human faces, some people don’t see anything, but what do you see?”

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I developed my ideas with use of fabrics and sewing, which is not something I have done before, but this experience has made me realise I would like to use this further in the future. Usually I stay in the realm of metal jewellery, with occasional use of wood or acrylic, but now I am much more open-minded about materials and I plan to combine materials more in the projects to come.

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Creating the display was interesting and it has made me think a lot differently about exhibitions, I think next time I go to an art fair or jewellery exhibition I will examine the set up a lot more so I can learn about the best way to display small items. Next time I will have a much better understanding of how to display items as well as how to plan the display in a more in-depth way before hand.

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