Saturday, 29 December 2012

Fashion Week Group Presentations

One word to some up our group presentations - embarrassing!

the week before last we watched the presentations for Milan and New York, and last week it was our turn with London and the other group who did Paris. All of the groups had a t least 2-3 people within their group who where absent on presentation day, and some people had had trouble logging into their Pebblepad account to upload their work so they had to use a word document to support their presentation.

I think that most people find giving presentations incredibly nerve racking and embarrassing, but I think that was made worse as none of the groups had got together to practise their presentations, and it showed.

I think because we had all just met each other and our teams where selected at random, we all held back a bit, I know I did. I volunteered as a 'team leader' with Becky because nobody else wanted to do it, but I did not want to start the term bossing everyone around and telling them what to do. As the oldest student on our course, a mother, an ex-learning support assistant and a generally bossy person, I know I can be prone to playing mother duck. But I didn't want to rub anyone up the wrong way at the start of our next three years together, as I know that first impressions can stick.  I set up a Facebook group to help our group to communicate outside of uni, but nobody really used it, including myself. So as a team leader I failed miserably.

Having said that, I believe that the research that I carried out and the work that I uploaded onto Pebblepad was of a good standard. I read through several different show reports and websites for information on each designer's collection, and used this as well as my own opinion on each collection to form my webfolio page. I also picked images that illustrated some specific pieces in the collection that I wrote about, so I was able to point these out to the audience during the presentation. I also researched and uploaded the Overview page for London Fashion Week. I made notes to refer to during my presentation, rather than just reading off of the webfolio page, and made an effort to make eye contact with the audience. Owing to the feedback I received, I believe this helped to make my presentation more engaging to the audience.

I think that doing a group project together at the start of the term is a good way to get us all to interact and mix as a group, and I think that is achievable within the structure of the teaching environment. But after all the initial flurry of work and good intentions, and because we knew that it wouldn't be formally assessed, for a lot of students it got placed on the back-burner and forgotten about until d-day approached, and by then it was too late.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Photoshop workshop

I am so glad that managed to attend the Photoshop sessions with Tim, the new skills I have learnt have been invaluable. I have used Photoshop before and have a basic understanding of how it works, but the skills I had leant up until now have been 'self taught' with tutorials on the internet and general fiddling about until I get the results that I am after.

Now I can do thing that I could't do before and have got faster at things that used to take me ages beforehand. I now know the proper way to add my textile designs to illustrations and can create a pattern repeat from my scanned in samples, alter there colour and change there scale. I have also learnt how to create a displacement map (a way to make your print follow the curves and folds of a garment).

One of my samples, scanned in and turned into a repeat pattern

Using Photoshop is such a fantastic skill to learn, not only does it open up lots of possibilities for illustration and digital print design, but is almost an essential requirement for most jobs in the fashion and textiles industry. I need to continue to practise these new skills that I have learnt on a regular basis, so I don't forget them.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Art and Politics

Modern art alined itself with socialism. at the time, socialism was thought to be a higher form of capitalism where an individual could better themselves, leaving behind our animal existance and freedom. Art and socialism lived together and shared the struggle. The revolutionary avant-gardes wanted to bring art and life together, but to Trotsky (a russian marxist) that would be to lose a political weapon. Art was not just about politics but art could transform the viewer from being passive to being a producer of meaning.

'Am I not a man and a brother' 
Josiah Wedgewood Medallion
Via here

This reminded me of something my dad told me about recently. In the eighteenth century Josiah Wedgewood designed and manufactured a ceramic medallion to spread the politic message to abolish slavery and to encourage people to share their ideals with others. It depicted a shackled slave on his knees, inscribed with "Am I not a man and a brother" and on the reverse " Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them".

The medallions were very popular during the period and they actually became a real fashion statement. Ladies would have the medallion mounted into a bracelet or wore them as hat pins and pendants. The image was also printed on plates and boxes and other pieces. It seems a little unexpected that something quite so frivolous as jewellery could carry such an important political message. But Wedgewood had the foresight to use fashion to promote the cause of abolishing slavery and creating equal rights for enslaved people, in the same way as art is used to highlight political messages. (source)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hollywood, Valentino and mulled wine

So glad I went on our college trip! We managed to squeeze in a visit to Hollywood Costume at the V&A and Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House, as well as a seasonal shopping trip around Covent Garden.

Hollywood Costume was absolutely heaving with people. Around each exhibit, literary shoulder to shoulder two to three people deep, which spoilt it for me quite honestly. I did try and read everything and look at everything, but I have come back and can't recall anything that I found particularly interesting or exciting.

It was the Valentino exhibition that really made the trip worth while. The techniques involved in making the dresses are amazing. After walking down the 'catwalk' where his dresses are displayed, you go down stairs and can look at samples of the different construction techniques used to create certain elements of the dresses. The workers in the atelier sew everything by hand, spending hundreds of hours on a single piece. So many hours, so many women and they never use a sewing machine, they hand sew everything. Apparently Mr Giammetti bought them a machine once and it sat in a corner, unused!

Although, as with the Hollywood costume exhibition, there was no photography permitted, there is a virtual museum you can access online, and the free booklet that supports the exhibit, has a useful glossary in the back with definitions of the relevant terms and the names of construction techniques, which is useful to keep on file for reference. 

Such an amazing exhibition, I came out of it feel in enthused and excited about fashion construction, definitely worth a visit!

This short 3-part film is an interesting insight of how the curators of the exhibition decided on how to display Valentino's work.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Photography and Painting

Yesterday we had a lecture titled 'An odd relationship: Photography, painting, the problem of originality and the life and death of mediums.' I found it quite difficult to follow, but I got some small bits of knowledge from it:

The invention of photography changed the purpose of paintings. Painters began to move away from recording in a realistic style, and became more self expressive. Then photography became not just a method of recording things, but an art form with focus on composition of the image. e.g. light and shade, shapes, conceptuality and artists style. So photography influence painters at the time, but painting also inspired the way photography was used.

Also, with the invention of photography came the problem of originality, because although an original painting can be reproduced as a print, it cannot be reproduced as an exact copy in its painted form. Whereas a photograph can be reproduced as an exact copy again and again from the original negative. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fashion & Modernity

Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernit√©) to describe the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban setting, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.  Fashion is therefore an excellent way to track the progress of modernity in our society - Modernity is a code and fashion is its emblem. Looking back at the fashion of a particular modern era, we can see the political and social values of the time.

For example, the 1920s was the age of modern travel. New inventions such as the automobile, motorcycles and the aeroplane influenced the fashion at the time. Elsa Schiaparelli designed flying clothes for women. We also associate the 1920s with the 'flapper' dress, a loose, drop waisted, short dress, named after the young liberated woman who wore the style. The constraints held over women in the Victorian era were disappearing, now they smoked and drank and wore their hair in a very short style, blurring the once strong line between femininity and masculinity.

1920s advertising poster

The question is which fashion designers would we think as 'modern' today? I think it would be designers that are using hi-tech, cutting edge technology. Mary Katrantzou is famous for using digital print in her designs, and Hussein Chayalan is always ahead of the game with his LED and convertible dresses.

Mary Katrantzou  S/S '13

Hussein Chayalan, LED Dress

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Fashion & Textile Processes - module review

Because our year group is so big, we have been split into two groups; ours will be working on the construction element first, to design and make a toile of a womans' shirt; whilst the other group will be working on textile processes.

finished shirt toile

At this point I have finished my shirt and as with the construction support module, I have really enjoyed the process, but I feel it might have been better to design the shirt after doing the textiles processes, because I might have had a bit more time to decide which way I am going with my primary research in Colchester.

Because I finished making my shirt earlier than some, I have had time to start experimenting with pleating, an idea that came from the parallel lines of the Firstsite building in Colchester, but I hope that when I start the textiles workshops next week, I will begin to have a clearer idea of the look and feel of my final collection.

In the last couple of weeks I have been really inspired by Dior's 'new look' which I researched in my construction support module, and the late 1950's fashions featured in the BBC's 'The Hour'. I would like to try and use this as inspiration for my final collection in some way.

1950s Dior Wool Suit

Beth Rowley 'The Hour'

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Fashion construction - module review

I'm halfway into my fashion construction support module and really enjoying it. I am starting to feel a lot more confident with basic pattern cutting, and I am really getting to grips with using the industrial sewing machines and overlockers. I now know how to create my own patterns with the use of basic cardboard blocks and by modelling on the stand (dress-makers mannequin).

modelling on the stand

I have particularly enjoyed researching historical couturiers and have found their designs, especially the tailoring, really inspiring. What I want to be working towards now is to be able to put all these design ideas, that keeping popping into my head, into practise. I will try to do this by drawing a collection of shift dresses, working on my technical drawing, and choosing a final design that I will draft a pattern for and construct.

Madame Gres



My tutor is pleased with my progress so far, saying that I have a "Conscientious file evidencing a good level of skills in cutting and making" and "Excellent attendance". There is a small amount of annotation that I need to add to my technical file, but otherwise I am up to date!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Warner Textile Archive

If you pay for a visit to The Braintree Museum, you can use your receipt for a free visit to the Warner Textile Archive within 30 days, so I decided to pop in for a quick look round and ended up staying for a couple of hours.

I first visited in about 2006-2007 the archive when I first moved to Braintree and it was relatively new, as Braintree Museum only purchased the archive in 2004. Since then I have attended a 'Behind the Scenes' tour and various exhibitions and textiles fairs. But yesterday I didn't have a whingy child and so I was able to take my time and read and look at everything. There is also a film that a local man took of the last working day of the mill, which is very poignant.

Recently the archive have started to utilise the vast amount of designs that they hold. Their collaboration with Surface View means that anyone can now have a design from the archive printed onto a canvas, blind, tiles or wallpaper. 2012 saw them launch their own wallpaper range and they have just launched their Wendy Bray Collection.



Wendy Bray Collection 

Swing Boat

New York 


The Warner Archive is currently working with The Ashley Family Foundation in order to identify and catalogue garments, documents, samples and fabric designs within their collection, and improve accessibility to these significant historical costumes. So far they have identified over 450 costume items in the Archive's collection which include:
- 16th century Venetian silk brocatelle 
- Two large, rare pieces of Spitalfield silks dating from the mid18th century.
- A silk and gold skirt made for Princess Mary's wedding in 1893. 
- Shoe fabrics woven by Warner & Sons in 1930.

Not only is it a invaluable resource for British textile design, but the archive shop has some lovely handpicked, handmade gifts. On my way out I bought this beautiful lambswool woven scarf  handmade by Wallace & Sewell for my sister's christmas present.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Avant Garde

The revolutionary avant-garde art movements of the early 20th Century were: Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism and Constructivism. Although they celebrated different ideas, they all had similar ways of working and had the same political aim - to destroy autonomous art, so it could become part of everyday life again. Artists moved into design in order to bring art to the masses. They turned their hand to fashion & textile design, graphic design and product design. They also collaborated with designers of the period, for example, Salvador Dali worked in collaboration with the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli on many pieces. Sonia Delaunay, Stepanova and Popova were all female avant-garde artists-turned prolific print & fashion designers of the period.

  Beachwear,  Sonia Delaunay, 1927

      Textile Design, Stepanova, 1924        

Dress, Popova, 1924

'Avant-garde' was originally a french military term meaning 'advanced guard', referring to a troupe of highly skilled and specialised soldiers, sent out to scout and survey a field before the whole army advanced. So the term was used to describe the above art movements, owing to their forward thinking, experimental and extreme ways of exploring art.

Some fashion designers that I might describe as avant-garde today would be: Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf and Thiery Mugler. For me, their iconic 'avante-garde' pieces are something that the average woman of today would generally not wear. Mainly due to their impractical shapes and revealing parts of the body that is normally perceived and inappropriate even in  today's western society. Although the work of the original avant-garde designers look quite wearable by today' standards, during the period that they were designed, they must have been exciting, daring and revolutionary. The loose fitting, drop waisted dresses in bright geometric prints would have been a shocking contrast to the tight waisted corsets and full skirts of the Victorian era, and the new beachwear showed a lot more flesh than Victorian fashion ever permitted. Which begs the question - will we find today's avant-garde fashions wearable in 80 years time?

Gareth Pugh, A/W, '11-'12

  Thiery Mugler, 1995

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Skill of the Maker

Before the age of the machine, everything had to be made by hand. From the woman at home weaving yarn to clothe her family, to the artisans making furniture to sell for their livelihood. The Victorians changed all this with the rise of the industrial revelation and mass production. In a reaction against the industrialisation, William Morris founded the Arts and Crafts movement, his aim: to return to the pre-industrial crafts. He wanted the public to re-embrace the importance of simple, but well made things; produced by small guilds.

During and after WW2, most things where handmade, as it was more economical for clothes and soft furnishings to be made at home, than bought in the shops. In contrast, today it is more expensive and time consuming to buy fabric and yarn and make our own clothes, than it is to purchase it in shops. So the skills that women and girls learnt in the past, have slowly been lost for todays generation. 

That said, in times of crisis, people turn to nostalgia, and since the credit crunch of 2008 the popularity for buying hand-made and 'making your own' has soared. Like William Morris rebelled against the mass production of the Victorian era, many people today are putting more value on hand-made products, than mass produced goods. Today the term 'Hand-made' or 'Artisan' can be used as a marketing tool, it has connotations of integrity, uniqueness, and quality. Buying hand-made is not a necessity anymore, in fact sometimes it is a luxury; and making your own is not a necessarily a cheaper way to live, it is more a lifestyle choice for people who want to opt out of buying mass produced goods.

Making by hand may seem out of date in today's digital age of CAD CAM and 3D printing - I do understand the importance of embracing new technologies and methods of manufacture - but as someone who feels compelled to make things all the time, I feel that the art of hand-making things is skill that should be passed on through each generation. There may be a time in the not so distance future when we can no longer rely on mass production to feed and clothe us, and so it is important to nurture those skills that help us to remain self-sufficent, should we, our children or our grandchildren need to be.  Not long ago, I read a really inspiring book that explores this subject by, the journalist, John Paul Flintoff called Sew Your Own which is definitely worth a read if this subject is something you are interested in.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Making A Point @ The Braintree Museum

This morning I popped into the Braintree Museum to view the textile exhibition - Making A Point.

The exhibit has been created by EAST, a group recognised for their excellent and innovative use of a wide range of textile techniques and thought provoking concepts explored within their work. Each member has chosen their own topic/concept to explore for the exhibition, which offers a feast of textile expression combining colour, texture, and stitch.

The exhibition was quite small, so I was only there for a a short time. I have to say that most of the work was not really to my taste. Quite a lot of dark grungy colours, a lot of felting and use of an embellisher machine. I love textiles, so why didn't I like it? Is it because it is textile art? I have typed and deleted many things on trying to describe what I like and why I didn't like most of the work in the exhibition, but nothing quite makes much sense. I'm sure that there has been a lot of work put into the exhibits, but nothing made me think 'wow, that's amazing!', 'how can I make that?' or 'I'd love to buy that!'.

I didn't take any pictures because I wasn't sure I was allowed to, but you can see some images of the exhibition via the link above.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Post-war Britain

The last lecture we had explored the links between art, science, natural and machine. It focused on Designers who's aim was to make art and design accessible to the people. Christopher Dresser, William Morris, Bauhaus, Joseph Paxton (Crystal Palace) and Le Courbusier all featured.

We were asked to research the Festival of Britain to further our learning, which reminded me of a   channel 4 programme The House the 50s Built , that I watched while back. Unfortunately the programme is no longer available to watch on 4OD, so I can't watch it again, but luckily there is an outline of each episode on the website to remind me. The series celebrated the science behind the inventions and innovations that transformed the way we lived and catapulted an exhausted post-war country into the modernity of 1950s Britain.

During the WWII, design and technology stood still in Britain's homes, because all the countries efforts were focused on winning the war. It was only after the war ended that we could begin to apply new scientific and technologic advances (some of which were developed for the war effort) to make the lives of the people of 1950s Britain easier, brighter and more fun.

The new developments of the science world had a direct effect on design in everyday peoples homes. Sciencists invented many different forms of plastics from the polymers found in oil including:


image from here

Created by impregnating paper with phenolic resin and building up lots of layers and heat pressing together until set into a laminate. Formica was a colourful and hygienic worksurface for the new fitted kitchens of the '50s

Polyurethene Foam 

 image from here

The unhygienic horsehair and straw used in pre-war sofas was replaced by this clean and cheap synthetic foam. This made the stuffing for upholstery lighter, less bulky and designers could mould it into any number of shapes.

 image from here

Pre-war furniture was carved from separate pieces of carved solid wood and joined together by experts furniture makers. But with the invention of PVA glue and a WWII technique used to develop the Mosquito fighter bomber, it was possible to glue thin sheets of wood together and mould them with press into different shapes to create iconic furniture that is still considered fashionable today.

Vinyl Paint

 image from here

PVA glue was also used to make vinyl paint, replacing the dangerously combustable linseed oil paint and toxic lead paint, that had to be mixed by hand by a professional. The new vinyl paints adhered well to walls and created a smooth wipe clean surface. Home decorating became popular as paint companies marketed this new ready mixed paint at the DIY market.

Wallpaper Paste

 image from here

Pre-war, wallpaper paste was made from flour and water, making wallpapering messy and unpredictable. But in 1953 a new synthetic wallpaper paste, marketed under the name of Polycell, was launched. Its mass production lead the rise of the 'feature wall' as people bought the new abstract wallpaper designs first showcased at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Nylon and Polyester

image from here

Nylon was developed as a replacement for silk used in parachutes in during WWII. But come 1950, it first hit the UK shelves in the form of nylon stockings. Nylon was cheaper than the pricey and hard to come by silk, and had elastic properties that made underwear and stockings supportive yet comfortable.
In 1952 Polyester was made into a thread and used as a replacement for wool. Suit salesmen would jump into swimming pools, fully clothed, to demonstrate the amazing drip dry properties of this new wonder fibre.

Not only did the science provide materials for designers to use in their work, but they also provide new inspiration for abstract print designers such as Lucienne Day. This iconic woven jacquard from the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree is called Hemsley and was designed by Marianne Straub for the Festival of Britain (1951). The design was inspired from the atomic structure of nylon. The Warner Textile Archive have used this design as part of their new wallpaper range, which was actually used the  channel 4 programme 'The House the 1950s Built'.

image from here

Finally, with these new scientific and technological innovations, William Morris' dream of "art for the people" was now achievable. Many of Lucienne Day's fabric designs were made in long production runs, which kept the price affordable. It pleased her to think that people who could not afford to buy a painting for their living room could at least own a pair of abtract patterned curtains. She, along with many more designers of the 1950s, had made the link between mass production and fine art. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Expectations of an Art School

What is an Art School? On a basic level, a school is obviously an establishment that provides learning and you would believe from the prefix 'art' that it would provide facilities that relate to that subject. But over the years, the methods of teaching art has changed and evolved. From the restrictive Art Academies, all the way through to the relaxed teaching environment of the 1970s.

In the 1970s, the departmental structure of Goldsmiths was abolished, meaning that students were free to attend any art class being held, and they were no longer restricted to a particular subject. My mother started her Art degree in ’74. She said that the classes had no structure to speak of other than half-termly tutorials with a lecturer. They were given set projects but their was no formal teaching as such, so although this created a relaxed atmosphere, for students to find their own creative style, none of the students really knew how well they were doing until they received their final grades. So although my mother achieved a 1st, she believes that was because she was more self-motivated than some of the other students. She also believes that grading was pretty subjective, with no strict guidelines on assessment across the board. The boundaries between student and lecturers was also less formal than they are today. Students and lecturers often socialised with each other in the pub and at parties, where they often continued to discuss art and ideas on art. I all sounds very bohemian and almost more of a sub-culture than being an art student today.

Since then, the departmental structure has been put back into place (although we do have the opportunity to attend the occasional workshops in art areas different to our own) meaning you have to commit to what area of art or design you want to study, I suppose that’s one of the reasons that you can study an Art Foundation course before you start your degree. Also lecturers today have to be much more professional than in the ‘70s. Not only is there strict assessment programmes to work to, for both students and lecturers, (to make grading fair across the board) the divide between student and teacher is very clear, probably owing to college and university safeguarding policies. Perhaps this divide is particularly defined on our course, as we are studying with FE students on our campus, and do not have a Bar on campus (which most Universities have) for HE students and lecturers to socialise in.

I understand the need for clear guidelines on assessment and I think that my course offers me more or less the right balance of structure and creative freedom. But as the only mature student in my year I do feel like I have more in common with my lecturers, and I think it would be beneficial to my 'unconscious' learning to be able to socialise with people that have the same interests in the subject that I am studying.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fashion construction drawing

I found todays fashion drawing workshop with Val really helpful. Although I had to produce fashion illustrations for my projects last year, and had been given suggestions on ways I could do this, we never really had any formal workshop to help us.

I feel that I have made lots of good progress today and now feel a lot more confident in sketching out fashion designs. Last week I was worried that most of the pictures that I had taken wouldn't be suitable to aid me in designing garments. But it is amazing how collaging different architectural details onto a figure can inspire design ideas.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Fashion construction support module

When we were given the options for our support module I was undecided on whether to stick with the construction and textiles options or to maybe take a photography or photoshop option, but after reading about them in more detail I decided to stick with the construction and textiles in the hope it will help me to become more proficient in both of these areas.

During Semester one I will be studying the fashion construction support module, and after today I'm really happy with my decision. I think that this module will help me to build up a really good technical file of construction elements which I will be able to refer back to throughout the next three years of my course. I am also hoping that it will help me gain confidence in pattern cutting and technical drawing, which I have not had much experience of so far.

This morning Val ran through what we would be doing on this support module, and then we made a start on our first samples for our files. I found the different seams reasonably easy to sew from the instructions provided and I was pleased with the results. I think the most valuable thing I learnt today was the names of the different seams and on which type of fabric or garment they are used in and why. I can already see how my technical vocabulary will improve by attending this module. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

First Lecture

My wednesdays will now consist of a series of lectures that will eventually lead to presentations and a 2000 word essay. We will also be completing a personal planning module which aims to help us to organise our study time effectively, encourage reflective learning and to aid us in planning for our future.

Personally,  I struggle with auditory learning. So although I find lectures interesting, I find it difficult to take in and remember everything being said. But after each lecture I understand that we will be able to discuss what was said, as a group, which will hopefully help things sink in and clarify anything I am unsure of.

Our first lecture focused on how we can use a critical approach to interpreting visual images. I think the main gist of it is that an image and its meaning can be affected by three main points:

  • The method/material used to produce the image 
  • The composition of the image itself
  • The intended audience of the image

This blog will make up 60% of my mark for our personal planning module. It should document my personal response to all aspects of my learning throughout this year, be it lectures, studio practise, workshops, presentations or independent learning.

One of the first projects we have been asked to complete is a group report/presentation on one of the four main Fashion Weeks. My group have been allocated London Fashion Week. I think it will be good to start a group project at the beginning of the course, as it will encourage us all (there is 34 in our class) to integrate with each other more than we might if we were left to our own devices.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Walking Through Camulodunum

Our new studio module is called Camulodunum (The Roman name for Colchester). During the module we will design, cut and construct a shirt and explore knit, print, dye, embroidery and embellishment processes to be included on our shirt. Charlie and Val arranged for us to go on an historical walk around Colchester in order for us to draw inspiration from the architecture, landmarks, open spaces and people of the town in which we are studying.

I found the walk quite interesting as I don't live in Colchester and although I study there, I have only ever walked into town a handful of times, just to go to the shops. Although the walk and talk was mainly about the history of the town, we did manage to fit in a quick visit to Firstsite (Colchester's contemporary visual arts centre).

Originally I was hoping that I could use the mini project that we were asked to complete over the summer. After a trip to Mersea I was inspired by the fishing boats and nets, and you can see my visual research for this here. But although Mersea is in the district of Colchester it is not in Colchester town itself, and although I maybe able to loosely link it in with the project brief, my research is very much textile/knit lead and I can't see how I would be able to apply my ideas to a shirt. I think I need to talk about this more to Charlie and Val next monday.

In the meantime I will try and draw inspiration from the photos I took on our walk. I think that the straight lines and angles used in and around Firstsite could work really well in textile design and a fashion construction context e.g. pintucks and pleats.

Can I draw inspiration from the strong history of textile production in Colchester?

I am really drawn to the curly rococo architectural detailing that can be found around Colchester. Obviously, these could be easily be recreated in a textiles design, but I could also research the clothing fashion for the period, and try and include some historical construction details in the shirt.

Then of course there is the Ancient Roman history of Colchester to consider, but this doesn't really inspire me as much as my other ideas.

This was my favourite photo I took of the day, I saw the couple sitting on the bench in Castle Park and thought it looked quite romantic, although the picture I saw with my own eyes was in colour, the picture came out almost in silhouette. It reminds me very much of a Rob Ryan paper cut. It also came to me that the Park theme could also be linked in with the famous Colcestrian, Damon Albarn, and his song Parklife

Monday, 24 September 2012

Bath Open Studios

 This weekend I went to visit my mum and dad in Bath.  My mother, Lindy Wright has a studio in Bath Artist Studios and it just happened that this weekend was their open studios event. So before we went out to dinner on Friday evening, mum and I headed down there for the opening night. Bath Artist Studios has over 60 artists in residence and so there was quite a lot to see, but here is a handful, along with work for my mother.

Lindy Wright

This is one of my mother's most recent portraits. I love the way she has used the 1950's style print of the  subject's kitchen curtains as a backdrop.

Some pictures of my mother's studio, I haven't seen this one since she moved from the basement, when she first started renting a studio here, so it was nice to see where she spends a lot of her time.

 Just a few sketches that are tacked up on her wall, but all feature figures in clothing, which is what I need to practise drawing. I particularly like the movement she has managed to create in the blue dress.

Paula Tew

This piece in the exhibition caught me eye. Paula Tew has an MA in Textiles, Fashion and surface design and studied book binding whilst living in Japan. I wonder if this book binding technique would work with stiffened fabric?

It was good to finally meet my mum's friend Stella. Stella studied Fashion at the RCA with Ossie Clark and has lectured at St Martins and the London College of Fashion. Stella's love of textiles, colour and pattern shines through in her paintings, which could also be described as fashion illustrations.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Anne Barclay - Colchester Open Studios

Last week I received some information in the the post about induction week and included was a little booklet advertising Colchester Open Studios. After a quick flick through to see what was on, the listing for Anne Barclay's studio caught my eye. I have always admired the tailoring and details used in historical clothing, which I have seen up close at the Fashion Museum in Bath or I have longed to own whilst watching Bright Star, The Duchess or Downtown Abbey. So I thought it would be really interesting to meet a designer with some of the same interests as myself.


I was so glad that I had gone, because Anne Barclay was lovely and her studio was amazing. Not only that but she has two daughters, similar in age to my own, and so Ella, who was a bit reticent about coming, ended up having a fantastic time playing with her girls and having her face painted, I almost had to drag her home!

I found out that Anne actually did her MA at Colchester, where I am studying, and also that she has taught a module on the actual course I am studying, small world!

Anne's latest collection is inspired by Regency, Victorian and Edwardian riding and hunting apparel. I particularly like the Frock Coat and Ruffled Spencer You can view and order from her website here.

For her MA, Anne explored the relationship between family, clothing and the undisclosed self. I find the social history of textiles intriguing, so we ended up having a long but interesting, multi-tangented chat about her research for the MA.

I had a quick flick through her sketch books, this is a sample of discharge printing on silk using old handwriting similar to this antique ledger she had in her studio.

This is an area of her wall that she uses like a ever changing mood board, I can't wait until I get into year 3 and actually have my own space to use like this.

 Anne was having a fabric and yarn sale on the day, as well as selling off some of the vintage textiles that she has amassed and the beautiful handmade brooches she makes from broken vintage jewellery and watches. I treated myself to to some handmade lace, vintage fur pieces and and some pretty yarn.

So all in all it was a lovely afternoon!