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Textile Student’s Success Sees Her Work Go International

One of our students is putting Bradford College on the map with her piece of textile art set to be exhibited in Sweden’s Rydals Museum.


Nicola Brunger’s exciting achievement comes as the latest in a line of successes from textiles students on our FdA Textiles Practice course.

Nicky’s work will feature as part of the Rydals Museum’s Living Advent Calendar, utilising the museum’s actual windows, with her special quilt set to light up on Christmas Eve.

Speaking about her work and being chosen to be part of the exhibition, Nicky said: “It can be nerve-wracking to think that people might be critical of your work, but really they are just curious and supportive. I am curious to see what the reaction of the Swedish people will be to it!

“I wanted to expand my horizons and find my voice in textile art, and this course is perfect for that. We are taught by practicing artists, who are highly regarded in the textile world, which has been fantastic.

“I have been able to move forward from my neat and tidy pixelated world of cross stitch to try all sorts of new techniques and develop myself as an artist.”

The background of the exhibit has been formed following a new link between Saltaire Inspired – an ambitious arts charity – and the Rydals Museum in Sweden, with the collection being curated by Christina Shearer.

The Museum itself is housed in the oldest preserved spinnery in Sweden, built in 1853, and also houses its own weaving centre. Rydal is a village on the River Viskan, sat around an hour drive from Gothenburg – one of Sweden’s major cities.

Speaking further about the inspiration behind her piece, Nicky continued: “The original brief for the assignment was to make a textile item that would be displayed at the Saltaire Arts Trail. The title was to be ‘Habitat’ and it needed to be made with sustainability in mind.

“We spent a day visiting Saltaire and thinking about the various habitats. I knew our work would be displayed in the Washhouse Gardens in Caroline Street so thought about the street itself as a habitat.

“I’m interested in expressing data in textile art. I chose the 1871 census as a set of data and decided to make a quilt using all recycled and second-hand materials to represent the street at that time, the households and the people.”

Like many before her, Nicky proves that it’s never too late to return to education and pursue a passion: “I retired from my career as a language teacher in 2018 and started a small business as a cross stitch designer. With more time to devote to textile art, I attended all sorts of workshops and joined the Embroiderers’ Guild and the Quilters’ Guild. A friend had enrolled in the FdA in Textiles Practice and told me about the course, so I signed up.

“This course has given me opportunities I never would have found for myself. The facilities are great, particularly being able to borrow a loom and use the print room! I still have some way to go, but I believe the course will equip me to work and exhibit as a textile artist.”

Hannah Lamb, Programme Leader for the course, said this about Nicky’s success: “We were thrilled to hear about Nicky’s work being selected to be exhibited in Sweden. It was a totally unexpected opportunity, which came about from students working with Saltaire Inspired on the Arts Trail earlier in 2023. All of the students worked incredibly hard on this project, creating work specially for the Saltaire Arts Trail.

“Students on the Foundation Degree (FdA) Textiles Practice benefit from lots of opportunities to develop their professional practice by working on live project briefs, industry competitions and visiting speakers. Projects like this give students a sense of what it would be like to work as a textile artist or maker, seeing their work out in real world and getting feedback from the public.

“Nicky’s work clearly struck a chord with the team, because of it’s strong association with the heritage of Saltaire. We are extremely proud of Nicky and can’t wait to see the work revealed at Rydals Museum on Christmas Eve!”


Picture kindly provided by Rydals Museum, Sweden

The Rydals Museum Living Advent Calendar is set to run until Sunday 7th January. To find out more and see Nicky’s work when it goes live on Sunday 24th December, please keep an eye on their social media. You can also check out Saltaire Inspired’s Living Advent Calendar by visiting their social media.

If it’s our FdA in Textiles Practice you’re interested in and you think this could be the course for you, please visit https://www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/courses/fda-textiles-practice/ to find out more.

Published: 13th December 2023
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University, Arts & Media

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# Art # Bradford School of Art # Degree # Foundation Degree # Textiles

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