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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

Steven Follen

My research interests include:
metalwork; drawing with metal; materials and process; use of digital technologies in the development of design ideas and production; drawing as thinking; drawing as learning; teaching and learning; landscape and place as source; museums and collections as source; public arts; public engagement through the arts.

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Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - Making it Yours: Metal
Bound was selected for inclusion in this exhibition from the Crafts Council National Collection to demonstrate practice-based research into material and process technology. This artefact was made through an applied coiling process which reflects traditional metalworking techniques used within aboriginal cultures.
Follen was also invited to direct eight educational films about makers and metal work processes to be shown as part of the exhibition. The films sought to document individual makers, demonstrating their interpretations of technical processes, and to demonstrate the visual communication of knowledge through tacit learning. As a practising metalsmith, Follen’s knowledge of the materials and the techniques served to help make explicit in his films the haptic skills and understanding.


Outcome 2 - Processional Cross at St Botolph's Church, Aldgate
The cross provides a symbol and focus for relatives of the victims of the July 2005 tube bombings and is a visual response to the history and the location. The design tries to capture the confusion, destruction and the shattering of lives caused by the events of that day, but also the static, the silence, the still of the aftermath. The form of the shaft, the weight and balance of the cross were important considerations in the design.
The final design brings together the digital images of the contemporary, with the historical references to the earlier engraving and metal cladding of processional crosses.


Outcome 3 - Commision for the Craft Study Centre, Farnham
These designs, for a donations box and a set of peg rails, were made in stainless steel using contemporary manufacturing processes and referenced traditional silversmithing and metalworking techniques. The domestic scale of the building and the subject of the collection lead to an exploration of the crafts aesthetic - designing objects which had a reference to the hand-made artefact but could only be made using contemporary and industrial technologies - laser cutting and photoetching. The pieces added to the collection and raised questions about the role and identity of craft.


Outcome 4 - Home Sweet Home
For this exhibition I produced two new large vessel pieces, my largest pieces to date. The vessels were made from coiled, welded and oxidized steel.
An interest in process, the way that we make and construct objects and how we invent with material has led to the development of coiling with steel wire. The process allows for subtle forms in which the surfaces are inherent to the structure of the object; everything fits and is not "applied". Limited research has been made into the colouring of ferrous metals and my work explores this area combining surfaces developed from the construction process with colours which emerge from the material.


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