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Bradford College

Everyday object becomes national prize-winning artwork

Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary helped Bradford School of Art student Judy Ballard to achieve a top prize in a national textile competition.

Judy, who is studying for a Foundation Degree (FdA) in Textiles Practice, received third prize in her category in the Bradford Textile Society Design Competition.

Entries from all over the country

The Society’s annual contest attracts almost 1,000 entries from artists and students throughout the UK including major London arts universities. Sharon Turner and Veronica De Sully, who also study textiles at Bradford School of Art, achieved commendations in the same category for their creative work.

Judy said: “This is a prestigious competition, so when I found out I had achieved third prize, I thought: ‘Wow!’”

The prize-winning design was a textile inspired by an everyday object – a three-storey washing-up rack in Judy’s home in Shipley. 

Three-storey washing up rack that inspired Judy’s work

“We had to start off with a ‘found’ still life. I was washing up one day, and thought the rack piled with colourful crockery and pans would be perfect, so I took some photos. “

Judy created sketches and prints around this object, and then designed six woven samples based on these.

Long-held love of textiles

Judy has a long-held love of creating textiles, and studied an access course in the subject at Bradford College 25 years ago. The School of Art is part of the Bradford College family.

She said: “After the course, I thought about carrying on but at the time I felt that earning a living took priority.

“However, I have just retired so I decided it was now or never.

“The course was perfect timing for me.”

Samples of Judy’s artwork

A flexible course to explore creativity

The Foundation Degree in Textiles Practice has been developed for those wishing to develop professional practice in textile art, contemporary craft and designer-made products. The part-time course format has been designed for people from non-traditional learning routes and learners who need to organise study flexibly around other commitments.

Judy said: “It’s set up so people can do it around the rest of their life. The five long weekends are very full and we learn lots of new skills.

“We develop these, with tutorial support, over the next couple of months, and it’s been inspirational  to see the different directions students have taken with their work. The college weekends are very buzzy; we’re all talking to each other and sharing ideas.

“What I really like about the course is that it’s very structured. I feel like I’m developing all sorts of new skills, and I’m looking forward to building on these over the next 3 years.”

Judy said: “I actually didn’t know anything about the competition until the last weekend of our course

“We chose one of our woven samples as the main entry before putting together a mood board incorporating weaving and supporting artwork from our colour sketchbook.”

Judy Ballard

New techniques to try

Judy, Veronica and Sharon all took part in The Cotton Industry War Memorial Trust (CIWMT) W2 category. For this category, first year undergraduates were asked to submit a woven fabric design, using cotton, wool or any other fibre, which shows creative potential.

“I hadn’t been on a loom since I took my access course and it felt really good to be using one again. It’s great –  the college loans us one to take home.  The tutor, Hannah Robson, gave us structures and techniques to develop in our own way. Just trying out different types of yarn or colour combinations gives a totally different fabric. The whole process can be very meditative, like Slow Stitch, steadily taking the yarn back and forwards and before you know it, there’s a piece!”

Hannah Lamb, Programme Leader for FdA Textiles Practice, said: “We are incredibly proud of all our students. But it’s great to get this recognition because The Bradford Textile Society competition is THE big award for textiles students across the UK. This is a great accolade for both the prize winners and for Bradford School of Art.”

The entrants and winning projects will be celebrated in an online event on 15 October 2021.

For details visit

Foundation Degree in Textiles Practice

The Foundation Degree in Textiles Practice has been developed for those wishing to develop professional practice in textile art, contemporary craft and designer-made products. The course will develop your technical skills in mixed media, stitch and constructed textiles, as well as focussing on researching ideas and developing original designs. Links between historical and contemporary practices in textiles will be made through guided research and individual practice.

Talk to the tutor (Hannah Lamb) before you apply. Email [email protected] to book a 1-2-1 call.


Published: 14th September 2021


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