PDP- Dissertation

The task of researching and writing a dissertation has been real eye opener for me. It has taught me a lot from good researching to time management. When writing the proposal I was torn between the dissertation to be about a very specific textiles piece or something related to gender equality; two topics I feel very passionately about. I decided on the later as it would be something different to work on, separate from my textiles work. However, I decided to bring in textiles as I was interesting in researching how the two could link together. After McQueens work being referenced in my Level 5 constellation and visiting the Savage Beauty exhibition in the V&A the previous year I was fascinated by his work and had some background research in place.

In the dissertation there is a clear angle of gender inequality and I feel that this was because of my strong passion about the topic in my day to day life. However, I also feel that as McQueen also had a intrigue about the way women looked and were perceived, it was impossible for the ideals of gender equality to arise. Overall, I am really pleased with the topic I chose as it gave me plenty of research opportunities and I my own passion on the subject kept me going through the process.

I can now fully appreciate that researching is a skill in itself. I struggled to find relevant and engaging research at the beginning of the process. However, after finding some key pieces of work, whether they were books or journal articles, it really helped me to find more of the same and new areas and ideas to bring in. I spent along time researching for the first chapter, I felt that I needed a lot of background reading otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write the dissertation. This slowed me down later on in the process as I found it hard to find confidence to actually start writing. When initially researching for chapter one, I found a lot of information on gender. It took me some time to figure out what was relevant to my dissertation. I enjoyed the research process and as perviously stated my own interest in the subject made researching easier. When researching for chapter 2 and 3 was when the references narrowed. These chapters were specifically about McQueens designs. I found most of the work written about McQueens designs were more biographical or just plain descriptors of the garments or cat walks. I found most of the relevant work to be in published books about fashion in general. When collecting images for my dissertation, I found that the exhibition catalogues were the best place. This is because they were good quality images that showed all of the garments.

When writing the dissertation I found it difficult to start, lack of confidence possibly. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough to write about so just kept of reading. It wasn’t until I had to write that I actually started. I feel that this had is pro’s and con’s. I had plenty of material to reference in my work however I also had a lot of the same points repeated. The first 1000 words I wrote was total rubbish. However, it was good for me to just get started and break past the rut. I found chapter one the easiest to write and I feel that this was because there was already so much content available. I found chapter 2 and 3 slower and I tackled this part of the dissertation very differently. I learnt that I work well by having everything planned out either by breaking down each section into paragraph by paragraph plans or by creating many a mind map. This worked well when writing chapter one. However, after researching for chapter 2 and 3 I used a different approach. I used columns analysis to break down each image and examine the whole image. This also highlighted any gaps I may have had in my research.

When planning my conclusion I found that it was getting too long. This is because I wanted to conclude every point that had been made and also tie together different images I had analysed separately. Therefore, I decided to create a Discussion and a Conclusion. I felt that this the best way for me to get my points across and I was really pleased with the conclusion as I was able to outline all the relevant points.

The dissertation could have been developed if I had taken into consideration menswear. I feel that this would have opened up more avenues. Upon reflected the dissertation is definitely based on a western ideal of beauty. I have been fortunate enough to travel and this is the main influence for my textiles work. I would therefore liked to have incorporated international concepts into my dissertation, if I were to do it again. Due to travel, I missed some weeks in university and I feel initially they put me behind most people. However, this made me manage my time much better and I have always felt that I have been good at managing time however I now have a deeper understanding of how I work and how productive I can be. I found that writing the dissertation was the hardest part for me, the research was the most enjoyable part. I also found that when I was having a ‘good day’ in terms of writing I could get a lot more done than I expected. Therefore, when I was having a ‘good day’ I would just keep going as working for long periods of time is the best for me. I find doing a tiny bit each day didn’t motivate me to do more as I couldn’t see the progress so clearly.

To conclude, I feel a massive amount of pride in what I have achieved. Initially, I found it hard to motivate myself but once I found a direction I enjoyed the process. The enjoyment didn’t come without stress. I feel that the stress because I was surprised by how much I was enjoying the dissertation and therefore I wanted to be as good as I could make it. I still can’t believe I’ve actually written a dissertation.


Constellation this year has been a more enjoyable experience and I feel that I have learnt a lot about academic studies. My study group for first term was ”Goddess and Monsters”. The topics that arrived in this study group were fascinating to me and have really influenced my topic for my dissertation. I felt that I could link it to my practice directly and this will allow me to develop my textiles work in relation to gender etc. The study group started by looking at the construct of glamour and what made a glamorous female. This concept looked at a range of influences and ideas in relation to glamour. I felt that looking at aspects such as Pygmalion and iconic film stars allowed me have a deeper understanding of it all. I found the correlation between the construction of a glamorous female in a much older piece of work (Pygmalion) and the modern celebrity fascinating and almost unchanging. Some of the key concepts around a glamorous female are soft, passive, self-contained, flawless and unobtainable. I found it interesting to see how some of these influences had come up in my life and see how I constructed myself without even realising.

I am a feminist and looking into how women are suppose to be passive and inanimate was a passionate topic to me. I felt a real interest in the topic and wanted to find out more about constructs of this idea. Therefore when researching into my dissertation I was shocked to find that passive and doll like influences were put into children’s clothing and products. Being able to bring in concepts that I learnt about in the study group gives me more confidence in my writing.

I was also particularly interested in an essay about Strawberry Shortcake doll in relation to odour. It emphasises the idea of proper odour to young girls. I felt that this article allowed me to turn to the concept of self-contained bodies in relation to the glamorous and the monstrous female. I feel like I need to more research into this for my dissertation as I feel I have only scratched the surface.

Alexander McQueen has always been a designer that I find inspiring and fascinating. His work and concepts have always amazed me. So to see his work in relation to the study group really helped me to further understand the key concepts we had been learning about. Seeing how his work challenges some dominant concepts surrounding the ideal female body. Due to the study group allowing me a deeper understanding of his work in relation to the female body it has built my confidence so I can use it in my dissertation.

When first tackling the proposal I was unsure what the content would be. I knew that I wanted to use my practice in relation to some topics learnt in the study group. Therefore I left it quite broad and came up with question of “How does textiles affect gender?” I knew I wanted to include Alexander McQueen’s work to see key concepts in relation to fashion and art. However I did struggle in the beginning and I think I almost feared it all. Therefore I went to an academic skills workshop about the proposal. It really helped to pick apart each section and I understood what I needed in each part. After the session I felt more confident in the whole matter and I started my research. I started board reading into gender as a whole and then I found more specific reading. Two books that really developed my research were The Gendered Object and Unzipping Gender. The gendered object allowed me to see how gender and gender ideals were placed on objects as well as people. I was particularly interested in the articles about children as it shows how rigid society is about gender stereotypes as they are being put on children. Unzipping Gender really highlighted the perception of men and women because of how transvestites use gender stereotypes to portray a certain gender.

Even though I had done a fair amount of research I was still worrying about it. This held me back because I didn’t start writing until much later on because I feared I didn’t have enough research so I just kept reading. However when I did start writing I found gaps in my research or possible places for extra exploration. I feel that I need to do more research into the Surrealist art movement as I feel this would be extremely relevant to my work as they used the female body in a lot of their work. I also feel that I didn’t do enough research into specific garments of artist such as McQueen and I feel that this would allow me to further relate the concepts to my practice as I could look directly at materials used.

I feel that I have learnt a lot about academic studies this year and about myself. I understand more about how I work and I feel this will help me greatly when writing the actual dissertation. I feel that I have found some concepts that I would like to work on and this is my starting point.


When starting Constellation I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised that the course handbook had all of expectations and information laid out from day one. I was intrigued to broaden my knowledge on art history as before my foundation I only had a textile background.

In the first term I found some of the key notes interesting especially Jon Clarkson:Post Perspective and Cath Davies: Meaning. These two keynotes were full of information and my I intently listened to all the lecture. However I felt some of the Key Notes I didn’t enjoy this could be because of it being difficult to hear or understand some lecturers or their presentation style didn’t suit my personal style of learning. I felt the most relevant Key Note was “Seeking Controversy in the Library” as this was really informative and helped me fully understand how to correctly access resources in the library and what how to access the resources I find for their relevance and validity. This Key Note built my confidence on the using the library because initially I found it quite daunting as I have never had access to such a large and extensive Library of resources.

The Study skills were set up well however a lot of my groups study skills were either cancelled or rearranged. Some of the study skills were really helpful such as the Analysing Media etc. However some of the study skills such as Referencing and Being Reflective were a little irrelevant to me as I have has lessons on this in previous studies. I would have preferred if these types of sessions were sign up or none compulsory.

I wasn’t too worried about the Baby Cage essay as it was quite short. It did take me a while to gather research and get used to using Summon etc. It was difficult to find material on the Baby Cage itself but I feel that this really developed my skills on researching as it was slightly difficult to start with. I really enjoyed researching into a comparison image. It gave me the freedom to research into something I was interested in. I chose to research advertising from a similar age as the Baby Cage and explore the use of women and how they were sexualised. When receiving feedback was I quite happy with my feedback. It was referred to as “Good” with places for improvement. I was pleased with this result as I struggled with the researching in the beginning.

When applying for our Term Two study groups my first choice was Cath Davies: Smells Like Teen Spirit. I have researched similar topics before and would have liked to broaden my knowledge on the subject. I also felt this could be the most relatable to my subject. However I was in Jon Clarksons: Post-Modernism. I was still pleased with this selection as I really enjoyed his keynote and his teaching style. I also really wanted to broaden my knowledge on art history as I feel that its really important for my studies to understand the origins of works.

The Study Group lectures were two hours every week and I feel that that they may not have been enough due to rarely reaching the end of the keynote. I really enjoyed the development over the weeks and looking at different movements each week. I had personal preferences on which movements I enjoyed learning about however all the lectures were still interesting and informative. The trip out to London was a really great trip. Even though it was rather short I felt that seeing the art we had previously discussed in their museum setting really brought the information from the lectures to reality. It really helped me consolidate the information in my mind and helped me further understand the course content and the art movements. The trip to Cardiff Museum was really interesting and really broaden my knowledge and outlook on museums. It really enlightened me on the museum and the building itself rather than the artworks within. I really enjoyed learning more about the new city I live in.

It took me a while to decide what essay title I wanted to research but after going through my notes and realising which lecture I found the most interesting I decided to go with Pop Art. The art movement is something I have seen throughout my studies bet never really understood in depth. Therefore I wanted to advance my knowledge. Researching into consumers would be really interesting to me because when creating textiles pieces I constantly research the consumer market and the captive audience therefore this essay and research will hopefully help me widen my perspective on consumers.

I spent the majority of my time researching and gathering extensive notes. The skills I learnt in the study skills from the first term really helped me with this stage. The Key note on the Library was the most influential as I understood the importance of having broad range of references. When writing the essay I would have liked a little more support maybe more than just one tutorial.

Over the year I have ad missed feelings on Constellation. I was really keen to broaden my knowledge on Art History and I felt the the Term Two study group were really informative and interesting. I feel that my confidence has grown as a researcher and I feel that I can probably use the library resources. However I do feel that there was little lack of communication and organisation surrounding cancelled study skills and how to present the PDP at the end the year. I do feel that some of the aspects were irrelevant to me but I understand the importance to make sure every one is on the same level.

Alexandros-Study Skills

This study skills was an extension on his keynote from a couple of weeks ago. It was really interesting to develop on from it. In the study skills we learnt a lot about how we think visual stimuli to sonic stimuli and vice versa. We read a paper on Visualisation of Perceptual Qualities in textural Sounds. It really showed me that I show consider all the senses when creating art works as they all work together to evoke a response. We also touched on how ideas are texted on an audience and what aspects have to be taken in consideration.

BabyCage Update

I’m really getting somewhere with this essay now. I’m not concerned by the word count as 500 words is quite small. However it is taking me sometime to get used to resourcing from the library. i have decided that the other imaged I will use with portray sexism in advertising. I will then look at how it will be perceived differently in now compared to back in the 60s. This will form the bases of my essay

Teenage Kicks- Cultural Approaches to Dr.Martens

Objects always have connotations embedded in them which an evolve over time. In textiles we work a lot with style and trends so this lecture was really interesting to see how an iconic pair of boots has many subcultural scenes. It also highlighted how brands have their own connotations as well and usually what ever they created falls under similar connotations.

This lecture was real insight into Cath’s research and I felt that the lecture really linked in with the work I do in textiles. It will help me think more about the connotations of everything when I’m designing or analysing for an essay.

Reflective-Study Skills

Personal reflection is not about whether I personally like or dislike something its about how I learnt and what I gained. Its all about learning lessons and from that what went well and what didn’t. Its good to reflect on academic strengths and weaknesses, reading and writing analysis.

For Example,

I personally have a strong analytical mind and I don’t struggle with writing essays due to have an English Literature A Level. However I do struggle with time management and stress.

This tutorial will really help me develop my blogging skills and will help me to be reflective not just descriptive.

Approaches to Analysing Visual and Material Culture- Cath Davies

This study skills session was brilliant. Its really going to help me with the “Baby Cage” essay and future analysis of images. Cath was really stressing the different between analysis and description. She suggest using a column system when picky apart an image.

Column One: Describe

Column Two: Connotations of points in column one.

Column Three: Theoretical Underpinning supported or challenged by academic studies.

Ive started using this process to analyse the Baby Cage image and its really helping me to get moving in the right direction. I will find another image to create a compare and contrast within my essay. This will allow me to create more of an argument over controversy and how controversial a subject could be.

Seeking Controversy in The Library

Today was really useful in understanding how I can access information in the library. It has boosted my confidence knowing exactly what I need to do. It was also brought to my attention the things I should be looking out for when researching such as Who? When? and What?

-Who?- validity

-When?- cultural and social attitudes continually shift and so does the focus of controversy.

-What?-Discourse; what is the purpose of the information or image? What kind of language doe it use? Is it informative or advertising?

It also covered the pros and cons of different resources ranging from books to webpages.

The Future of Sonic Arts

Today was something I had never even thought about researching or listening to before. Alexandaros’ enthusiasm really compelled me to listen intently. The lecture really broadened my perspective on arts/music and I would like to research further into it.

Mentioned Artist:

John Cage

Max Matthews

Imogen Heap

Peter Vogel