I have spent the morning exploring the Manchester Metropolitan Graduate Show, I have paid close attention to the Textiles in Practice exhibition and noticed a few graduates that really stood out to me.
Lydia Cotterell is the designer that most excited me, I really felt like I connected with her way of working. The drawings that she has created really show the 'unsophisticated arts' theme that she was trying to express. Through looking through her sketchbooks and her portfolio her drawing and her experimentation with collages and other medias are very playful and expressive. The colours that are used in the sketchbook are small snippets from the festival and carnival influence although I feel that the colours get darker and these characters almost become little monsters with their own characteristics. I feel that this year I have narrowed down my drawing skills to the things I most enjoy and tried to define myself although this has inspired me to be more loose and expressive with my work.
Lydias work is inspired by native festivals and carnivals and the costumes that are worn during the celebrations. I think that this is a really exciting way of producing characters and narratives within her work I noticed this element in some of the conversational repeat prints displayed in her portfolio. Lydias colours pallet becomes more finalised within her samples (which is something I feel that I need to work on next year) although they seem far from the inspiration for the project, I think that she has created a more contemporary colour range to express her take on her subject. The initial drawings in the portfolio remind me a lot of Laura Hyde’s work.
Within her samples Lydia has used a range of processes, I think that this has worked well and her experimentation with print has been really successful although they might not be practical for the outdoors idea that she intends them, maybe it would have been a good idea to try and create some waterproofed samples to show how they would work in context. The decorative textures are an interesting touch. The amount of samples shown at the show, even though all the samples are as busy and decorative as each other, it's clear that there has been a conscious effort to create a range of fabrics with co-ordinating fabrics and statement pieces.
Looking at Lydias initial drawings and the end result there does seem to be a clear connection to the festival, party, celebration idea. The organisation of the characters within the patterns remind me a little of Lucienne Day's textiles. I have felt inspired by Lydia’s work and feel that this is the standard that I would like to be at by the time I finish my degree, I want to push the idea of the ‘element of strangeness’, within my work. It’s really good to see some work at the show that isn’t floral and that’s very illustrative I feel as though I am going in the right direction. I think that the way Lydia displays her intentions for her fabrics are brilliant, combining photographs and hand drawn imagery is something I am interested in and want to push within my own practice.
I noticed at the show that there wasn't much branding at all and I think that it would have been exciting to see her way of branding herself and her work. After the exhibition I had a look at her website and there is more branding and I think that she has created something very special and its encouraging to see someone who knows exactly where they're going and who they are within their practice.
Safia Ann Kukaswadia:
I noticed Safia Ann Kukaswadia's work, although it is something that I wouldn't usually appreciate, I really enjoyed looking at this project. The fabrics that Safia has created are beautiful, there seems to be a real sense of luxury within the fabrics which I think is to do with the shiny silks and metallic foils that have been introduced in the print room. I really don't want to dismiss my knowledge of the print room and the techniques that I have learnt over the last two years, I have spent a lot of time digitally printing my samples this year and not so much time introducing elements of technical ability which I still think is important.
Safia has looked into military embroidery and used a range of techniques within her fabric samples for unisex garments, there isn't a lot of indication that this is what the project is about, and perhaps a look book would have been able to demonstrate her ideas further. When looking through her portfolio it is unclear where most of the shapes and pattern has come from although there is a lot of experimentation with texture which is exciting to look at but this never makes it through to the final samples displayed in the exhibition which is disappointing. I think that the concept could have been pushed further and seen with clear links to the final fabrics.
I think that next year I should consider this more although with my focus on scarves it doesn't seem a practical way to embellish my prints as they may become heavy and not drape the way that I want them to. I have been considering expanding onto other accessories which I could use my technical print skills on.
There is a sense of a colour pallet within this range, greys, blacks and the metallic decoration and the embellishment with embroidery. I found the more luxurious hand dyed silks to seem out of place within the range in their colour and their drape/texture. They were all created by hand rather than using digital printing which I think displays a great deal of dedication, passion and skill. Safia has crossed over specialisms slightly by exploring embroidery as well as print which has worked really effectively.
Another printed textiles graduate that interested me was, Tui Krosschell. The idea behind this project was a look at gender, transsexuality and androgyny. I thought that this was a brilliant concept as it’s very relevant to today’s society. Tui had 'manipulated male and female body parts to bring together two sides of the gender spectrum' within a small booklet which looked very professional. Although the designs weren't as imagery based and illustrative as some of the work seen in the sketchbook (which I was a little bit disappointed about) I thought the designs were brilliant and really depicted the ideas and concept of the whole project.
'I want to blur the line between femininity and masculinity, because in today’s society the two sides definitely overlap more than they used to. Ideas of gender are changing, allowing more people to show their true self.'
The way that the work was displayed and branded was unbelievably professional and I hope to be at this level when I graduate. I think that the project as a whole has been executed very well including the fashion illustrations and the photography of the final pieces on the body. I think that the fashion illustrations are clever as they haven’t been over complicated; they are simply photography based with illustrative elements to highlight the designer’s ideas. This is something that I have already practiced within my work but this pushes me to strive for something better.
I have always tried to avoid photographing my work on the body as I always worry about the way it will turn out. I don't want to end up with a result that looks half-hearted or unprofessional although I have been advised to try this in the future so I think that I will try and get inducted into the photography studios so that I can get some decent photographs as I think that this is vital to coming across as a professional after looking at graduates work. I think that it would be good to learn more from a photography student as well as then I can gain some experience collaborating.
Overall the experience of reviewing the graduates work has been really helpful, I feel that I have gained a better knowledge of what is expected at graduate level and feel like I can achieve this by next year. I am really inspired to push myself to create the best outcomes that I can and feel that it would be really worthwhile to focus on being professional. I especially enjoyed looking at the various look books and magazines that had been printed and binded for the exhibition, I want to bear in mind this idea for the time that I will be graduating.