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Week Four – Farrah


Alongside taking photographs of masks which I have been collating together on my Assemblage of Masks page, I have been collecting the masks too. I have taken several safety precautions when doing this. I have been wearing gloves when picking the masks up, which I later wash when I return home. I have been putting the masks in a bag and leaving them for at least 4 days to ensure any potential virus will have died. These photographs show the process I use to disinfect the masks – I first get them out of the bag after 4 days, and shake all of the dirt/leaves off from the road. I then use a spray bottle of strong disinfectant, and then soak them in some hot water with cleaning solution. I then rinsed each one in hot water under the tap, and let them air dry.

An important thing to note here is how easy it is to wash a mask and re-use -although the disposable masks are not really suited to being washed, it is very easy to either put your masks in the wash with your clothes, or just give it a quick soak and rinse in hot water to kill any germs.

I have been shocked during the past week at how many masks I have managed to photograph and acquire, on just a 20 minute walk every day. To think of this on a national scale, not just Aberystwyth, and even an international scale is absolutely devastating. I have been reflecting on the process of what I am doing as I go about town collecting the masks safely. I have noticed I have felt embarrassed about what I am doing, trying to quickly pick the masks up before anyone notices me. It makes me question why I feel like this; the only people who should be embarrassed are those throwing them onto the floor in the first place. I should feel proud to be making a simple difference by taking them away from damaging the environment/being a hazard to wildlife, and giving them a new cycle and purpose. I have also noticed that my project is relying on the thoughtlessness and selfish behaviours of the human nature. Although it makes an interesting project, I think I would prefer the alternative and have to find a new one.

Using the masks, I have decided to make pots out of them to grow herbs out of. This would make another use for the masks that would otherwise go into landfill. I found the whole process of making my first pot quite contemplative; I reflected on the pandemic and the losses we have suffered due to it, and I felt quite empowered by the thought of making some small good out of the disposable masks.

How I made the masks:

I started by unfolding the masks pleats to extend it to its full size. I then drew a circle in the mask, and cut the circle out. Using long cut of white thread, I hand sewed a running stitch around the edge of the circle. When I had gone around the circle once, before tying and cutting off, I took the length of thread and pulled it gently. This gathered up the fabric, making a small pouch in the middle. I then adjusted the pouch by making it plump round all of the sides, and tied off the thread.

I am really happy with the result of these masks, and the transformation/cycle I can see happening in the future once I fill them with soil and begin growing herbs.

Workshop Two

This week we had the second of our workshops. We were asked to come prepared with ideas inspired by the previous workshop; The Forager and The Farmer. The brief we were given was that we had to create an idea that we could do as a group in Week Eight. It was an opportunity to reflect on everything we had experienced in the first workshop, and take our individual ideas further towards a collaborative project in any medium and discipline. I always find this exciting as there are similarities between what we are doing in these workshops and what I am doing at home; usually the working process of experimentation, ideas, research and execution, but this time I feel there are similarities in the context of the theme as well.

This photograph depicts the whole of my sheet of paper, which I used as a platform for a constant stream of concepts and plans for the collaborative process. Using a long sheet of paper was really beneficial I felt, as I experienced a journey of changing ideas and then tweaks, before ending up in my final plan. Although it was a lovely opportunity to sit and think/imagine, I do feel it is necessary to actually experiment with and act out the concept for the project before the proposal next week. This is important as it is a chance to make sure I completely know my plan inside and out, and I can easily answer any questions the group may have regarding the proposed project.

I started off with the concept of ‘Searching’; I found this was an element which resonated with me during the first workshop, as I could relate the search for acorns in the woods, to my search for ideas and meanings. I then thought about ‘Plant Blindness’ and the way this was similar to ‘Searching’, with a phrase underpinning the two in my head; “notice the unnoticeable”. I decided that a good way to explore these concepts during the collaborative workshop was through a game, perhaps of hide and seek, or a treasure hunt. Although these sound childlike, I think all of our best ideas come when we let go of our adult preconceptions. I then began to think of ideas for how to execute the game as a workshop, and for a while was finding it difficult to think of a way to make the project more profound, and particularly what to do after the game.

This photograph shows the step by step plan of my idea for the project; this is subject to change this week as I will be experimenting and practicing it first. I decided to link it to my own project as I feel it would be a great opportunity to raise some awareness of disposable masks and the crisis they are producing in our environment. There are also similarities between the ‘treasure hunt’ for masks which I will be preparing and what I have been doing in my project; finding masks on walks and collecting them. I look forward to pitching the proposal in next weeks workshop, and also hearing more about everyone else’s collaborative project ideas.

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