Constellation | Summary

During the start of my first term , I began attending weekly lectures to familiarize myself with art and design through selected study groups. The lectures insisted of discussions and useful information to help us with our dissertations during my third year. So far we have completed one essay and currently in the process of completing our second one for the year. The previous essay was a formative and we were given feedback. This was to give everyone an understanding of what was required for the upcoming essay. This helped to prepare me and the feedback was very useful.

I will give a summary of my constellation experience and what I feel I have gained overall.

Since the start of term one, I have had weekly constellation days every Thursday. They consisted of one hour key notes sessions every other week. At the beginning of the year we got the chance to decide which two study groups we wanted for each term. I found this a very independent decision I was required to make and I was pleased with the choices I had made.  I chose ‘After modernism’ for my first term, ran by lecturer Jon Clarkson.

I found myself very intrigued by this study group in particular as I didn’t know much about post modern art and seen this as an opportunity to learn more about it. The first lecture was provided to get an understanding of the different art movements we would be looking at during our weekly lectures and how we would analyse them. I found each movement very interesting and it was useful to hear what other people had to say about the art work that was discussed.

As a whole group, we also got the chance to visit the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain museums in London to look at and discuss minimalist and post minimalist artwork. One of the most interesting and beneficial parts of the trip was getting a chance to visit the EY Exhibition – world goes pop. I recognized a lot of the artwork that was displayed from previous studies in class and as I decided to look at the Pop Art movement for my essay this gave me a lot of inspiration when deciding what artist I wanted to write about.

These study groups allowed me to see things from different perspectives as every group was made up of students from each disciplines. It also enabled me to develop new ways of thinking. I could interrogate and pick apart elements of  various designs, be it from fine art, artist makers, illustration or graphic design. I enjoyed that each week a debate would be formed by myself and the students in my group by expressing their opinions, thoughts and feeling towards the artwork we were shown.

As well as our study groups, we had weekly key note sessions. This is where lecturers from each study group came and gave a brief outline of what their seminars would be about. I found the lecture ” Teenage kicks – Cultural approach to Dr Martens” a particularly interesting seminar. Our lecturer Cath Davies, discussed how different subcultures wore the same boots but in very different ways using modification to remake and remodel them into their own subculture identities. I feel this key not session gave me a good idea of what the word “subculture” means and how this would help my understanding in my upcoming weekly study groups and essay.

I found this discussion very interesting, especially for myself owning more then a few pairs of Dr Martens. I didn’t realize how important the way you used to wear your boots was to society. The Mods and skin heads held a massive part in this lecture as they used these boots in particular to symbolize their identities. The way these subcultures did their laces up were a specific sign of their identity and values. Specifically the Skin heads, they wore their laces done up to the top and tied at the back.

My second study group for term two was ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ ran by lecturer Cath Davies. I have recently come to the end of these sessions. I feel this was definitely my favourite out of the two study groups I selected. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about different subcultures, such as Goths, Punks, Teddy boys, Zoot suiters, and Hip Hop. I learnt how style identity was so important to each subculture and how each individual style had so much more meaning than what meets the eye.

I particularly liked looking at the zoot suiters and some of the connotations that come with this subculture style. I decided after my weekly study group session to look further into zoot suiters, I looked at the 1940 riots which was really interesting and I feel was a very important time for this subculture style and identity. This gave me the inspiration for my upcoming essay and I have decided to look at how suits are worn in the 1940’s and new day. I also plan to look at how women use suits now to be empowering in comparison to women around the zoot suiters.

Overall I feel constellation has been a very enjoyable element of my course and has enabled me to think deeper behind Art and Design as well as my own work. I have found my weekly study group sessions and key note lectures very interesting and I have gained a lot of new knowledge and ideas to inspire myself in the future including my upcoming essay.




Study Group | Week 6

Punk and Gender Identify

In this weeks study group we discussed the punk subculture and their gender identities, mainly focusing on what the subculture meant to females and how it allowed them to express their own identities. Continuing on the method from last weeks lecture by analyzing an entire extract, highlighting statements and quotes in small groups then discussing as a class what we believe the text was suggesting. We also discussed the feminist movement in the 70’s and how the punk subculture played a massive role in this.

Extracts from O’brian, L (1999) The Women Punk Made Me in Sabin (ed) (1999) Punk Rock : So what, Routledge, London.

After reading through the extract it was clear that punk challenged the “Barbie” look, giving women an alternative. The punk look was not necessarily seen as attractive but there was always statement of intent within the style. Anything that was seen as attractive to men, punk women would trash creating a look that was not sexualised, not defined by how they looked.

Study Group | Week 5

Punk Subculture

During today’s study group session, we looked at the punk subculture and focused on how to read from a full extract recognizing relevant quotes to help us with our upcoming essay, this was useful practice for us as throughout the previous lessons we were given individual quotes in our notes to analyse. I found this very helpful.

The reading was an extract from the book: Barnard, M (Ed) (2007) Fashion Theory: A Reader London: Routledge. Chapter 23: Dick Hebdige STYLE, Pages 256 – 266.

We got the chance to analyse the front cover of the sex pistols album “god save the queen” which I found interesting to find how much just an album cover related to the punk subculture. This was different to the method we normally use of analyzing an image.

I used the techniques “Cath’s columns” again today to analyse the image. The theory I used to back its up was some of the quotes I picked out from the extract, highlighting them at the start of the session.

Here is my example of this technique:

Study group | Week 3

Remake Remodel | Subculture styles and Identities

In today’s study group we looked at the Hip Hop subculture and how different subcultures take objects and remodel/make them different. This is a way of the subcultures giving objects a new meaning. To take something with an existing life you can give it different meanings by customizing or remodeling the objects.


Every subculture has its own appearance and meaning. Various youth subcultures have been identified by their possessions. Subculture must exhibit a distinctive enough shape and structure to make them identifiably different from their parents culture. This is their way of try to “break the mold”

Subculture originates from the alternative youth culture scene, not seen as a mainstream term. They must be focused around certain activities, values, certain uses of material artifacts, territorial spaces etc. This is how the are identified by their style and what  differentiates them from everyone else. – These objects are the identifiers of identity.


If we were back at the Mods and Rockers. Both the mods and the rockers had bikes but the style and identity they had modified their bikes to were distinctly different. Constantly advertising your difference. Each subculture has its own meaning, there is always a reason behind the motifs and customization of their clothing.  – Organised group identity.

Re-signification | showing signs that only people in your gang would understand and recognize. This is a marker of authenticity.


By looking at each subculture style, you should see reoccurring themes and motifs which make the style individual.

Study group | Week 2

Goth Subculture

The topic for today’s study group was the goth subculture. We analysed and discussed what meaning are behind their street style and what motifs they have behind their style. In the previous week we had been shown how to lay out our essays using (Cath’s columns) so this week was a perfect opportunity to practice this method.

We looked at what different things influenced the Gothic style we see today. It is mainly influenced on Victorian fashion by 19th century Gothic literature. Motifs are used from this era like Dracula and using representations of fear like; spiders, cobwebs, insects etc. By using make up to create a pale look to their skin their motif is to represent death.

Fast forwarding back to our current era the Victorian style has been modified a lot through the years and these modification would not have been seen in the 19th century era.

Modifications such as:
Colours have been changed, the modification of “cyber goths” is to wear brightly coloured or neon clothes and and even hair colours have changed.

Fabrics and appearance of clothing. Traditional Victorian style dresses where full length and made up of layers. They have been modified in the current day by making shorter and much more reveling dresses, the fabric is not as heavy and thick as the traditional style.

– The style “steam-punk” has also been used a lot in the new day Gothic style.


Study group | Week 1

Subcultures and street styles

Today was the first day of my constellation study group: smells like teen spirit. Ran by lecturer Catherine Davies. I was feeling very optimistic about this study group as it was one I was very keen to study out of the choices we were given.

“To identify expression with visual and material culture” – How are gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, youth identity anti-establishment  values and how they are expressed visually.

We were then shown the very cleaver method useful to us for our essay, the method “Cath’s columns”.  It was three simple steps to stick to whenever writing an essay
– D e s c r i p t i o n
– A n a l i s y s
– T h e o r y

Description – To describe exactly what we see. The object, photo, design etc. Stating the colour, shape, style, pose and so on. Try not think to much about the meaning behind the description just yet.

Analysis –  To analyse everything you have described. You would then analyse it using the cultural context, symbolism and it’s associations.

Theory –  Is Theory. Academic research to back up your analysis. Find a quote by a theorist that has already stated what you’re saying. (academic perspective)


Having used this method we then put it to used and were given the image of Madonna during a performance on stage.




London Trip – Constellation

As part of my constellation study group for After Modernism my group and me were taken to London to visit the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain Museums. I found the whole experience very overwhelming, only visiting London a handful of time and to the museums once previously it was so fantasizing to see the beautiful city and I was so taken back by just how busy and large the city actually way as I was travelling through. Coming from a small town in the countryside the city life completely memorizes me and I cannot get enough of the scenery.Sigmar-Polke-at-Michael-Werner

During our time at the Tate Modern we looked at some of the art movements we had been studying and discussing in class and were also given free time to discover some of the artwork we were interested in independently and take a look around the museums and discussed minimalist and post minimalist artwork by artists Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Richard Serra and Lucio Fontana as well as many others.

One of the most interesting parts of the trip was getting a chance to visit the EY Exhibition – world goes pop. Taking a journey through the history of pop was an amazing experience as a lot of the work was familiar to me and I recognized a lot of the artwork that was displayed from previous studies in class, so seeing them in the exhibition was surreal for me. It was interesting to learn more about the artists and where the work came from. Before visiting the Tate Britain we were given free time to check out the city independently and during my time here I got the chance to meet up with a friend studying in London. Grabbing a bite to eat and exploring the city some more was fantastic and the trip was such an eye opening experience for me as it is always visiting London.