Bradford Textile Society, which was founded by in 1895 thanks to College lecturing staff, remains Britain’s foremost textile society and its annual awards highly regarded by the industry. Current and former students of Bradford School of Arts & Media enjoyed great success at this year’s Awards ceremony held at the Rio Grande Banqueting Centre on 2nd May.
Andrea Wilde, Course Tutor for the BA (Hons) Contemporary Surface Design & Textiles degree, was delighted with her students’ achievements. She commented, “This year was particularly difficult. There was a record 920 entries from 37 universities including the Royal College of Art. Many leading universities had no prizes or commendations awarded to their students, so for us to win two prizes and five commendations is fantastic. The majority of the selected work was from the embroidery and knit projects for the first year and the printed and constructed studio practice in the second year.” Our winners clearly demonstrate the level of creativity and research involved in the degree programme, as well as undoubted talent.
Kate Whitehead won the first prize of £150 in the Holland and Sherry Award for a woven fabric in any fibre or blend. She was also commended in the Clothworkers’ Foundation Award for a woven fabric for menswear or womenswear, including accessories. Kate revealed the detailed investigative work underpinning her winning entries: “My first prize was for work I did for a weave project called ‘my very own plot’ where I chose to work with roses. I baked, boiled and froze petals, dissected them, glued dried petals on to a page and then stitched over them with a sewing machine. I filled books with different experiments; it was a bit like being a scientist! For the three samples on my board, I wove dried stems; cut printed fabric into strips that were stitched to make ribbon which I wove, and finally, imitating the texture of dried roses, I used paper yarns, finger knitted and knotted, to weave with. I received my commendation for a fashion piece done for the ‘bringing the outside inside’ project which I based on feathers and nests. I studied two nests in my mother’s garden, collected feathers from Harewood Bird Garden, and researched the traditional dress of the Navajo Indians.”
Sarah Marsh was commended in the Clothworkers’ Foundation Award for a woven fabric for interiors. Sarah said, “My design, Autumn Leaves, is a jacquard weave shown as a headboard for a hotel bedroom. I did this as part of the ‘bringing the outside inside’ project about using nature for home interiors. I used my own painting of leaves and scanned it into the computer to as a jacquard. Receiving a commendation when there was so much competition has given me a lot of confidence.”
Sarah Jackson was commended in the Holland and Sherry Award for a woven fabric in any fibre or blend. Her design was based on a much maligned vegetable and while the smell of some of her experimentation was far from popular in the studio, the finished result proved much more enticing. She said, “My work was part of a project about growing your own and my original inspiration was sprouts. I wove fabric to represent their shapes and the range of colours they turned when I left them in a bag to decay. As well as cutting them and leaving them to rot I also froze, burnt and fried them as part of my experimentation. I would produce cushions from this fabric as part of a collection of prints used for interiors.”
Charlotte Heap was won the third prize of £50 in the Clothworkers’ Foundation Award for a knitted fabric in any fibre of blend. Bridget Harris and Aneela Paul Khokher were both commended in this category.
For Charlotte the prize was vindication for ambitions previously thwarted and confirmation that her decision to become a mature student had been wise. She explained, “I loved embroidery from being a child and I always wanted to do an arts degree but I received no encouragement so I trained as a secretary. I became PA to the Head of Design and then project-coordinator at the National Wool Textiles Export Corporation. This was largely an admin role but I made mill visits and attended colour meetings. A consultant did the boards for the international textile trade show Première Vision but when they needed boards for Tissu Premier I volunteered. I went on to do the boards for Heimtextil and run the colour library. “When I was made redundant, I decided to combine my twelve years of industry experience and my art skills by enrolling on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Surface Design & Textiles degree. My portfolio was unconventional but showed I had an eye and got me a place on the course. I am so pleased to have won a prize and have this recognition.”
Bridget’s commendation for her work entitled Oh! I do like to be beside the Seaside was highly personal but also very accessible. She explained, “I based it on a day spent at the beach with my husband and little boy, and also on memories of childhood beach holidays. I made tiny baby shoes from fabric I had printed on tissue text with a map found in my late father’s belongings. It was about feet in the sand leaving their inprint, like memories of happy times. I added partial knitting with wool, silk and then felting to give the impression of undulating waves, of the sea and of time, as memories are evoked.”
Aneela’s commendation was for her fashion based piece, Furry Meadow. She said, “I blended the colours of a flower meadow with a furry texture by using furry yarns. Plants were the main inspiration for my main design for the shoulder part of a garment.”
Our alumna, Barbara Cooper, won first prize of £400 in the British Wool Marketing Board Award for a fabric on any construction for fashion, including accessories, or for interiors, made from British Wool, and which enhances the intrinsic qualities of natural British Wool. Barbara, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Textiles in 2006, had won second prize for her knit while a student and entering independently since had amassed an incredible clutch of two first prizes, two second prizes, two third prizes and three commendations. Family responsibilities and other work commitments have meant that apart from selling textile jewellery, Barbara has delayed commencing a textile based career, although these achievements will impress prospective employers when she is ready to launch her career. Barbara said, “I love designing and creating and the competition keeps me inspired and involved in textiles. It is much harder as an independent entrant as you are not surrounded by creativity and there is no one to feed off. It shows that my design ideas are still current and evolving which will be a useful platform for me when my circumstances are right.”
This year saw the introduction of a new category, the Bradford College Textile Archive Award, for a textile design of any technique or combination of techniques, inspired by a sample from the archive. In her opening address, Society President, Geraldine Clark, suggested that a low number of entries in this category reflected unfamiliarity and advised all institutions to consider preparing work based on this rich resource next year. Citing Vivienne Westwood as an example, she counselled, “Working with the past in order to create the future is very valid.” This year the prizes were not awarded but Colleen Ellington, an independent entrant was commended and received her certificate from Clare Lamkin, Bradford College’s Cultural Events Manager.