Uni Done and Dusted

Thinking back to the beginning of university, I never would have thought three years could have gone by so quickly. The exhibition has been one of the most fulfilling experiences, watching everyone’s work piece together in such a small amount of time is a wonderful sight to behold, especially when everybody is so proud of what they have accomplished.

I am feeling so positive about my exhibited work. I feel like it stands out as an engaging and bold choice and could have people standing around wrapped up in the serendipitous stories for moments on end, I’m glad it won’t simply be sweeped over! Hopefully people will be able to take on board the wonder of chance events and will get people thinking and talking about similar stories they may have encountered in their own lives. As my postcards state, never underestimate a moment in time, it may be right where you are supposed to be.

I spent a long while creating the exhibition label text as I wanted it to perfectly be engaging yet thought provoking and respectful.

“Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. We can find examples of serendipity in our lives if we look back on events that had an unsuspected outcome by chance. Happy accidents can happen at any moment in time, standing here today may be right where you are supposed to be. 

The hand illustrated stories explore the personal serendipitous events that spared lives during three of the most tragic worldwide disasters.

December 26th 2004, April 10th 1912, September 11th 2001.

They are true tales of survival. “

Exhibition wise I had major concerns about how my prints would look when displayed. Each of my hand drawn stories were created on A4 paper and scanned at high res to make sure I could blow them up as big as I wanted, I wasn’t entirely sure whether I wanted to have them A2, A1 or even A0. The problem was that I didn’t want to have to redo all my hard work to find out that if the resolution was not high enough that the images would look pixelated once blown up to massive scale.

Because I produced the original drawings at A4 I felt they looked really detailed and strong at small scale, but when I printed off my first rough draft to scale, I panicked that the stories looked so grainy and that the large scale would draw attention to any faults in the print rather than a positive impression. In fact the reason it was such bad quality was no fault of my own but purely the printer, when printed greyscale at uni the images came out far more crisp and the worry was swept away. As always I ended up leaving the final printing far too late and was turned away from the print studio at uni to be told it would take them a week to produce what I needed from them. Luckily I was able to have them printed within three hours just down the road and I couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of the outcome.

One of the most relevant  areas of the course over the last three years to the development of my university work has been the play and creativity module during the Field term. I feel that it is really my thing. That art and design has the ability to change the way people feel, how they experience and explore the world around them. Communication that makes people use their minds and step out of their comfort zone is what makes me want to do the things I do. You can’t settle for simply the easiest way of doing things, there is always a way to push the boundaries, make the simple extraordinary and make impressions that stay in the minds of viewers for their entire lives. Working with the other disciplines during that time allowed me to realise there is more that one way to tackle a problem. Sometimes in the studio we get into a bit of a routine as to what we feel is an expected outcome from a graphics student, when in reality communication is everything. I feel comfortable experimenting with a range of different mediums to create an outcome. I often feel that the things I handcraft are more engaging and communicate better than anything I could ever have developed in other ways. There is a beautiful roughness to the traditional techniques and that is what I love about my time in graphics, that we are encouraged to express ourselves outside the constraints of the computer using the wealth of techniques and knowledge of skilled people around us.

Thinking about the challenges I constantly struggled with, I thought I’d have learnt my lesson by the end of university. I tend to have a real problem of being such a perfectionist, and find myself within a constant circle of wanting to do work but procrastinating on the smallest of details to avoid doing more tedious tasks. Time management is still quite an issue, not planning out exactly how long different aspects of a project are set to take me and ending up with a whole bunch of work at the end, that I end up not giving my full potential to. I always will think I could do better but in most of the cases this year, I really am pleased with how everything has turned out.

I decided to show my serendipity work over my fmp as I felt it produced a higher impact at exhibition level than an outdoor conceptual idea could. I felt it would be far too time consuming to mock up some great outdoors scene to give the full impact of what I have created, and felt the only way I could do that work justice would be to display it outside where it belongs!

 

Creative Brief

I have designed a formal creative brief for the final major project. It has really helped me to focus my ideas, understand my target audience and figure out a solid direction for my development. I can use this to continually keep on track, and refer to at each stage of the project to ensure I answer the brief’s aims.Jillian Howe Formal Brief.jpg

Final Major Project

Where do I start? The last three years have quickly dwindled down to the final major project. Am I ready for life after uni.. definitely not, but I’m trying not think that far ahead just yet!

This final project is based on an interest we feel we want to pursue. As a child I was always (and still am) incredibly passionate about the natural world. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in North Wales; I had the best childhood I could possibly imagine. I would spend all of my time out in the wild, exploring, seeking adventures and just playing in the open air. It saddens me to see that this no longer seems to be the case; our generation was probably one of the last to be unaffected my modern lifestyles, I talk to friends about what they used to do as kids and I can’t help but feel they missed out on the fun experiences of the great outdoors and don’t want this to happen to future generations.

With my Mum as an early years school teacher, I also grew up learning everything there is to know about the education system, what really engages with children and what they hate. For this project, the combination of the two is what I aim to produce, an outcome that engages children back with the natural world around them.

Research

Foundation Phase

The Foundation Phase is a developmental curriculum for 3 to 7-year-olds in Wales. It encourages children to be creative, imaginative and to have fun and makes learning more enjoyable and more effective.

Children will be given more opportunities to explore the world around them and understand how things work by taking part in practical activities that are relevant to their developmental stage. They are challenged with open-ended questions and given opportunities to explore and share their ideas for solving problems.

The Foundation Phase is based on the principle that early years’ provision should offer a sound foundation for future learning through a developmentally appropriate curriculum. It brings more consistency and continuity to children’s education at such an all-important period in their development.

The Foundation Phase places great emphasis on children learning by doing. Young children will be given more opportunities to gain first hand experiences through play and active involvement rather than by completing exercises in books. They will be given time to develop their speaking and listening skills and to become confident in their reading and writing abilities.

The curriculum will focus on experiential learning, active involvement and developing each child’s:

  • Skills and understanding.
  • Personal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual well being so as to develop the whole child.
  • Positive attitudes to learning so that they enjoy it and want to continue.
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence to experiment, investigate, learn new things and form new relationships.
  • Creative, expressive and observational skills to encourage their development as individuals with different ways of responding to experiences.
  • Activities in the outdoors where they have first-hand experience of solving real-life problems and learn about conservation and sustainability.

This framework sets out the curriculum and outcomes under seven Areas of Learning. For each Area of Learning, the educational programme sets out what children should be taught and the outcomes set out expected standards of children’s performance.

In recent years there has been a cultural shift in our society that has reduced the access and use of outdoors for many young children. Contributory factors include increased fear amongst adults in relation to children’s safety and technological advances leading to an overwhelming prominence of more sedentary indoor activities, such as television, video and computer games.

Here are some powerful arguments for taking every opportunity to take young children beyond their immediate indoor environment:-

  • Learning outside the classroom supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being.
  • Learning outside the classroom gives children contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons.
  • Playing and learning outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles.
  • Outdoor play also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
  • Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, both upwards and outwards, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities.
  • The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences which supports brain development and the creation of neural networks.
  • For many children, playing outdoors at their early years setting may be the only opportunity they have to play safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations.

Benefits for Early Years of Learning Outside the Classroom

  • Learning that flows seamlessly between indoors and outdoors makes the most efficient use of resources and builds on interests and enthusiasms.
  • Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment.

Ted Talks

I watched hours worth of TED talks, and came across some of the most wonderful and powerful messages. Emma Marris: ‘Nature is everywhere – we just need to learn to see it’ says:

The Nature Conservancy did a survey of young people, and they asked them, how often do you spend time outdoors? And only two out of five spent time outdoors at least once a week. The other three out of five were just staying inside. And when they asked them why, what are the barriers to going outside, the response of 61 percent was, “There are no natural areas near my home.”

And this is crazy. This is just patently false. I mean, 71 percent of people in the US live within a 10-minute walk of a city park. And I’m sure the figures are similar in other countries. And that doesn’t even count your back garden, the urban creek, the empty lot. Everybody lives near nature. Every kid lives near nature. We’ve just somehow forgotten how to see it. We’ve spent too much time watching David Attenborough documentaries where the nature is really sexy.. and we’ve forgotten how to see the nature that is literally right outside our door, the nature of the street tree.

In order not to steal it from our children, we have to do two things. First, we cannot define nature as that which is untouched. This never made any sense anyway. Nature has not been untouched for thousands of years. And it excludes most of the nature that most people can visit and have a relationship with, including only nature that children cannot touch. Which brings me to the second thing that we have to do, which is that we have to let children touch nature, because that which is untouched is unloved.

We face some pretty grim environmental challenges on this planet. Climate change is among them. There’s others too: habitat loss is my favorite thing to freak out about in the middle of the night. But in order to solve them, we need people — smart, dedicated people — who care about nature. And the only way we’re going to raise up a generation of people who care about nature is by letting them touch nature.

I have a Fort Theory of Ecology, Fort Theory of Conservation. Every ecologist I know, every conservation biologist I know, every conservation professional I know, built forts when they were kids. If we have a generation that doesn’t know how to build a fort, we’ll have a generation that doesn’t know how to care about nature.

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Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA

See, I’m an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. I grow my art. Just like a graffiti artist, where they beautify walls, me, I beautify lawns, parkways. I use the garden, the soil, like it’s a piece of cloth, and the plants and the trees, that’s my embellishment for that cloth. You’d be surprised what the soil could do if you let it be your canvas. You just couldn’t imagine how amazing a sunflower is and how it affects people.

So what happened? I have witnessed my garden become a tool for the education, a tool for the transformation of my neighborhood. To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. We are the soil. You’d be surprised how kids are affected by this. Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus you get strawberries.


Extinction of Experience

The lepidopterist Robert Pyle first introduced the term “extinction of experience” in 1975, writing:

“As cities and metastasizing suburbs forsake their natural diversity, and their citizens grow more removed from personal contact with nature, awareness and appreciation retreat. This breeds apathy toward environmental concerns and, inevitably, further degradation of the common habitat….So it goes, on and on, the extinction of experience sucking the life from the land, the intimacy from our connections… people who don’t know don’t care. What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never known a wren?”

“If only they understood, they would come to care.”

This study addressed concerns about “extinction of nature experience” and implications for the role of landscape management through examining predictors of the type and frequency of adult visits to natural areas. This study involved 4639 adult participants in France.

Findings indicated that forest areas were the most cited natural places visited as adults, with parks the second most cited area. Greater childhood exposure to nature predicted higher adult frequency of visits to nature as well as visits to forests rather than more urban nature areas such as parks. Therefore, childhood nature experience appears critical for adult nature engagement, but also informs the type of nature exposure those adults seek. People who felt more connected to nature scored lower on place specificity, indicating that they were less likely to specify particular places they were attached to and more likely to feel connected to nature independent of interaction with a specific locale.

Overall, the results indicated that the frequency of visits to natural places as adults was strongly related to connectedness with nature and childhood experiences of nature. These results support community efforts designed to increase children’s interactions with nature.

The loss of interaction with nature not only diminishes a wide range of benefits relating to health and well-being, but also discourages positive emotions, attitudes, and behavior with regard to the environment, implying a cycle of disaffection toward nature. Such serious implications highlight the importance of reconnecting people with nature, as well as focusing research and public policy on addressing and improving awareness of the extinction of experience.


Child to Adult

There has also been a fair amount of research into what kinds of experiences turn children into adult conservationists. This research depends on self reporting studies, i.e., adult conservationists reflecting on what circumstances fostered their environmental values. After reviewing many of these studies, researcher Louise Chawla summarized them, in order of greatest influence:

1. The experience of natural areas as a child – e.g., frequent and free play in a “wild” place, be it the back forty of the family farm, the pond down the block or the vacant lot next door

2. The influence of one or more mentors (usually family members) who shared their own love of nature and guided children into similar pursuits

3. Involvement with outdoor or conservation organizations, such as scouting

4. Negative environmental experiences – e.g., seeing their cherished woods turned into condos

Structured educational programs exert less influence than the high emphasis that we typically give them.  Informal, unstructured, frequent and affective childhood nature experiences are what most influence the development of adult conservation values. Remember tree climbing, bug collecting and daily tromps through the woods? That’s it; there’s no big mystery. So the true paradigm seems to be almost the opposite of what we’ve been practicing. It should be, “If only they cared, they would come to understand.” First we fall in love with nature, then we are motivated to learn more about it – including what we have to do to protect it.

The process of falling in love with nature used to be a virtually automatic part of childhood, but this is no longer so. The whole nature of childhood has changed.

Studies have provided evidence showing a positive relationship between levels of exposure to nature and those of physical health and psychological wellbeing and social cohesion. Whilst the majority of such analyses have examined short-term health benefits, recent studies have documented long-lasting influences, such as on diabetes, circulatory and heart disease and longevity. Additionally, it has long been held that regular contact with nature is vital for children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and motor development.

Childhood experiences with nature strongly influence adult connectedness to nature.

Adrian Mole

Here I am, super happy that this is the children’s book cover this year. I always wanted to produce one of the children’s covers as I felt I could generally be alot more fun and illustrative with any outcome I produced without it being ridiculed for being too cartoony for adults! The idea that I went with stands with the red socks protest. I loved the idea that in a world where Adrian feels misunderstood and ‘grey’ that a splash of red could cause such a stir.

As a Harry Potter fan I kept writing 9 3/4 so it’s lucky I spotted that before I wrote it wrong on the cover! As you can see the amount of times I tried to write Adrian Mole perfectly..

I wanted his legs to look long and gangly, almost Quentin Blake inspired. He’s in his school uniform yet if it weren’t for the upturned short trousers he may be ‘mistaken’ for a 9-5 worker, he describes himself as a misunderstood intellectual in the blurb.

Adrian Mole mock up book cover

PDP Submission

To begin Constellation Level 6, I found myself in the situation of making important key life choices that will affect my developing career as a creative individual; from beginning to develop an individual style of design, looking at the availability of creative employment in Cardiff and finalising the direction of my dissertation studies. Spending three years building valuable academic knowledge within the setting of constellation, has enabled me to feel confident in my capabilities in both research and execution of my work.

I have been determined to apply as much of my previous theoretical learning to the development of this current work as possible from the theories of existentialism and being. I often fear that I missed out on fundamental art theory and history education due to my ambition to progress straight to university instead of engage in a foundation course, but I seem to find that I lack the more common theoretical design knowledge in comparison to other individuals around my studies. I do find that this makes me want to try even harder to prove to myself that I can achieve at an academic level. I would love to see a more theoretical base to the studies within graphic communication that can expand further into employability skills from the application to design.

The concept of what makes up the being of an individual, in relation to existential theories and social sciences interested me from Level 4 of constellation. From these roots, and application to my subject study of graphic communication, I developed my dissertation title by combining my most personally enjoyable subject topic of brand development, to the theoretical topic of authenticity and being. I stumbled upon a series of difficulties that hindered my learning experience. Due to the current and fluid nature of my topic, I struggled with the prospect of finding relevant sources that met my needs, as initially I was unable to find text with more than a paragraph of usable information that I could read through. Although the university library has a plethora of different books available, with a niche topic like my own, I was forced to conduct a lot of research online through reports, articles and webpages especially when developing current case studies.

I was amazed to find that Gobe, encapsulated my vision of emotional branding before I even the knew the concept existed. It is an exhilarating prospect to discover shared ideas, and gained the knowledge that I too, could one day have the same influence with my own creative expansions. His exploration into the blurred lines of brand and consumer relationship, put into perspective how valuable and vitally harmonising the two influences can be.

I really do feel that every aspect of subject, field and constellation interlink in a way I would not have thought possible. The ways in which theoretical understanding can be applied to every element of creative practice means that I am always able to develop my knowledge of design further, even when outside of the studio.

Recently, I have started to cater my subject work towards acknowledging how I can effectively portray the key values of a client’s identity. Within a recent competition brief for the Royal Opera House, I found that in-depth research enabled me to understand the emotional qualities that make up that individual brand. If I could gain insight as to who the brand is, the personality, aspirations and passion envisaged as a physical persona; far deeper than their existing connotations, I would be able to authentically design for both the client and consumer in a true and engaging manner.

From the study of main dissertation themes, I have adapted to consider the way I look to design myself as a brand. I feel as though there should not be such a divide between the boundaries of who an individual is and their creative practice, and I hope that the extensive knowledge I have developed on humanity and branding will inform and enable me to rethink exactly how I see myself as a designer and how I can communicate those messages to others around me. I have altered the use of language within my online presence and creative portfolio in order to more authentically portray myself with a touch of individuality. By taking ownership of my creative style I hope to create a greater consistency throughout my future projects.

During my writing, I have asked myself many a time, how authentic am I? I have established that it is important to ask myself these questions, just as it is important to maintain a positive essence and outlook on why I do the things I do. Within constellation, I expanded on the theoretical topics that I was truly interested in, not because of expectation or peer pressure. Looking back reflectively, it may have been easier for me to have developed a thesis based on typography or art history, but I have the knowledge in myself that I developed an idea that was authentic to my identity.

Personally, the most important aspect of my exploration is the way I have brought my understanding out of the creative world entirely, impacting the way I view myself and how I in turn affect the essence of those around me. Consequently, thinking about how I can use my skills to benefit others has greatly encouraged me to alter my direction of work towards a project of change and helping others. I have grown increasingly interested in how the influences of humanity are affecting the natural environment for wildlife and I aim to employ a similar emotional design strategy with the aim of direct engagement on a level that mere physical design could not portray.