Constellation since we handed our proposals in has been a whirlwind, with so many different things to plan and get my head around all before beginning write my dissertation up. When choosing a topic to base my dissertation around I knew right away that I wanted it to link back to my subject area of Textiles. Last year I fortunate enough to get a place on the level 5 field trip to Rajasthan, India. An area world famous for it’s traditional crafts, one of the most iconic being block printing a process dating back centuries. Whilst on the trip we had the chance to spend time visiting traditional block printers at work, as well as to visit a papermaking and traditional blue pottery factories. Having the chance to see a variety of craftspeople working was so insightful, as I could see the processes in front of me rather just reading or hearing about them. Whilst we were visiting these different places we had a guide accompany us, who would give us the bigger picture of the industry and the problems it faces. We also visited various museums related to craft, my favourite being the Anokhi museum of hand printing. It was created by the owners of the fashion and home wares to house their extensive archive collection of traditional block printed fabrics, different processes and also has block printers giving block carving and printing demonstrations.
As a Textile designer the preservation and conservation of traditional techniques is so important, as it’s these unique traditions that give areas their own characteristics full of life and meaning. Block printing is also a topic that I feel very passionate about, so the idea of basing my dissertation around traditional crafts was perfect. With my decided main exploration being Traditional Textiles in Rajasthan, I began to research into a few different areas to analyse the traditional processes. After looking into a few different printing locations in Rajasthan, I thought that the town industrial town of Sanganer outside of the regions capital Jaipur. I also liked the idea of exploring the Environmental factors that threaten the industry, along side the contemporary adaptations of traditional prints for a growing western market. Which are areas that consumers need to be more informed about, as we’re all consumers who probably own something made in India with no idea about the processes.
After deciding the who’s, what’s and where’s of my theme, the hardest part was then trying to pin point my key argument/ exploration within my traditional crafts idea without being too broad. After submitting my proposal, I was still unsure of my particular topic so began to research quite broadly into my topic area. Investigating into a few traditional printing processes that have been used in Rajasthan for centuries, along with researching into what is still being used and what has been modified over time. It was this decision making that took far to long and really put me behind especially over the summer months, as my research wasn’t very specific. If I were to re-do this dissertation process again I would have most definitely utilise my time better over the summer. As when I returned back in September we were thrown straight in at the deep end with our final subject modules. Regular dissertation tutorials when we returned back for Level 6 were very helpful, even at times when I hadn’t really progressed too much further with my research. Having an honest relationship with my mentor, meant that I felt comfortable to talk about my concerns and not too feel guilty if I was a bit behind but would help to prioritise what needs to be done next. This progress has also taught me a lot about the importance of time management and the need to prioritise tasks throughout.
One of the big obstacles I faced during term one was taking 2 weeks out of University to go on the Level 5 field trip to South Korea. The timing of the trip not being the best with the dissertation draft being due, also around this date was an important subject deadline to present to our clients who were working for. However these time management skills really came into good use and helped me to sort out what needed to be done right away and what could wait a few days or until I returned from the trip. Unfortunately I was unable to hand in a draft that is also a large regret of mine, however being away for 2 weeks really motivated me when I returned to catch up with my work.
I have definitely noticed the jump from Level 5 to 6 in Constellation and I have surprised myself with how far I’ve come from first year, with academia isn’t one of my strongest skills. I have felt a bit out of my depth at times over the last few years. However this year as been very different, with ideas almost clicking into place, from learning new research techniques, to referencing, essay structures to just more about academic writing formats. I put this down to the fact I’m researching and writing about a topic area that I’m passionate about, spurring me on to do more as I’m interested in learning more about it. Most definitely changing my approaches to this body of work for the better. Completing an academic text of this scale has also been an achievement in itself, as I know have the understanding of what it takes and how to complete it without being too phased. My relationship with constellation and subject has also massively improved, as I am now starting to think of the theories and meanings behind my subject work. Wanting to push my research and writing skills more especially on my blog. Hopefully this will continue onto to my final field module.
The writing up of the dissertation itself has had it’s ups and downs, with times when the words have flown allowing me to write up large chunks. To other times when I just can’t seem to get my key points across. I’ve also learnt a lot through this process about where my best working environments are and how to be as productive as I can be. This will help with my field module to make sure that I’m using my time effectively, especially when reflecting on my project progression on my blog. I will always remember this constellation module with mixed feelings, however it has taught me so much and just proved that I can get the work done if I just put my mind to something. This is an important lesson that will stick with me for years to come.