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School of Art student awarded special commendation for work inspired by Bradford College Textile Archive

A talented textiles student has recently been commended for an impressive piece entered into a national design competition, hosted by the Bradford Textiles Society.


Mary Whitehouse, a mature student from York, received her commendation in the Clothworkers Prize for interiors category, thanks to a stunning piece of weaving suitable for interior use.

Now a student on our Foundation Degree in Textiles Practice, she held no previous art education before enrolling at the Bradford School of Art and was actually an experienced physicist before retiring.

Speaking about taking the leap into this unique path of study with Bradford College, Mary had this to say: “When I retired from physics education, I did a patchwork and quilting course and absolutely loved it. I realised that I didn’t just want to make patterns out of magazines, I wanted to learn how to design things myself.

“I was on a day course and the tutor had done the degree course here [Bradford College], with Hannah Lamb, and she said I’d love it! Hannah’s a great teacher; I phoned her and asked if I was too old or too late but she invited me to come for an interview. She asked if I wanted to be challenged, which I did, and here I am.”

Adding to her sentiment about the quality of teaching in this area at Bradford College, Mary continued: “The teachers have such a depth of knowledge and are practising textile artists themselves, this brings such a rich experience and makes it really special.

You’re working in the Lister Building, with all its history, and using the inhouse textile archive gives you that feeling. It gives a real depth to what you can do. There’s such a variety of materials and students can chose hugely different things as our inspiration. Of course, it’s also nice to be in the place where David Hockney started!

The imagination behind Mary’s piece of artistry came, as previously referred to, from the unique Bradford Textile Archive.

“We’re really fortunate here to have the Bradford Textile Archive available for us to use and the piece I used was in a sample book from the John Knox Mill, formerly based in Bradford”, she elaborated.

“The page I chose has fabrics woven for Jaeger and Garigue, which particularly caught my eye. I loved the colours on the page and it brought back a lot of memories, as my mother was a seamstress and she would buy this sort of cloth on the market.”

Course lead, Hannah Lamb, commented on Mary’s achievements and the opportunities available on the programme: “We were delighted to hear about Mary’s success. She is an exceptionally dedicated and hard-working student, who consistently goes above and beyond in her studies and as an ambassador for the course. It’s a real credit to our course that we manage to successfully compete alongside BA and Masters students from far bigger institutions.

“The part-time course Mary does is a unique blend, combining study on campus with distance learning. Students typically come from non-traditional routes and many combine their studies with part-time work or caring responsibilities. Throughout the course, students have many opportunities to gain professional experience with external projects, exhibitions and competitions like this.

“Bradford College is proud of its textile heritage and archival study; textile history is embedded into our modules. Projects like this allow us to bring together our history with future textile design.”

If you’re interested in studying this FdA in Textiles Practice, enjoying access to high quality teaching and facilities like the Bradford Textile Archive, please visit: https://www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/courses/fda-textiles-practice/

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