Cherise invited me to look round the Fine Art Degree show yesterday…oh my, I was so disappointed…and increasingly cross…things like breaches of health and safety, notes to invigilators to warn of people coming in wheelchairs so that things could be moved (bad) with NO invigilators around (WORSE) sharp pointy things projecting into public walkways, people who were possibly invigilators picnicking in the corner of a room of art…ACCESS is not a privilege in a public access site/event, it is a right…but the art made up for it? Well no, after one floor of disappointment, and with that warning in the back of my mind, I said I’d meet the others later (apparently it improved and I missed some better work, drat it!) and I went back to the ground floor where I had seen some EXCELLENT art, and got to feast my eyes and replenish my soul…

So, these images were taken with permission in the TEXTILE DESIGN 2013 EXHIBITION. I have added the credits, so while I’m pretty sure they are all correct, I apologise for colour and font maybe not matching graduates work/taste. The invigilators were present and very helpful, which as the easiest access for me to the Bonington is by getting a hand for lifting my wheels down the four steps, I was very grateful for.

To access the official pdf:


The first pieces to catch my eye were the ‘suffolk puff’ neckpiece and the perce/burnt collar, it looks a little flat in my photo, but was lovely and light, with a variety of textures as well as the very supple suedette.

I loved the blue piece by Alexandra Austin, her machine embroidery is excellent and all her work repaid close inspection.



This piece made me audibly gasp! It is a beautifully tailored dress, made of a light tweed in a totally pleasing mix of colours, much better than my photo shows!

It IS lighter than her samples hanging in the background, but still vibrant, so I’m not sure why it looks slightly frosted…. many apologies to Katie McKeon, but as my favourite piece of the day, I wanted a reminder! Selfish, but true 😉


Emma Gillett deserves to walk straight into her own business or a good design job, these were so pleasing, perfectly designed and well made, another factor that struck me about this course in comparison to the Fine Art, the vast majority of pieces in Textile Design were well made, well finished and with a respect for industry standards, but also a respect for the student’s own achievements shone through: beautiful fabric should be displayed to its best advantage, whether as a mini bolt/samples or made up garment/product.


Amanda Ferguson and Ben Marston also looked industry ready: their surf and skateboard culture designs would sell straight off the rack…They were shown in the dim stairwell section of the foyer, but were so vibrant it wasn’t a problem, focused lighting and bold work caught the eye and HELD it…none of the unfulfilled promise of the Fine Art, where poor finishing and lack of resolution plagued so many pieces…


There were many others in the Textile Design show who made excellent work:

STA45002   Serena Francis, Emma Bradshaw and Laylah Cook are beautiful designers for woven fabric, their samples were stunning, subtle, elegant…

STA45006 Stephanie Smith makes beautiful embroidery, her frosted rime on this piece was superb, I have a feeling she will be at Harrogate or Alexandra Palace soon 😉

I was also struck by  the work of Harshita Pala (page 96) and Charlotte France (page 44), and wish I had taken usable photos of their work (I may go back if I have the spoons, I was pretty exhausted after 2 hours at Trent…) they had a looseness in their style that makes me wonder if they will cross over to art later, their work is professional and industry-appropriate, but there are hints of that certain something 😉

The whole exhibition was vibrant, professional, made by people excited by their own work and that of their colleagues, with attention to professional details like promotional images/business cards with contact details and the colour image year book. (Contrast with a tiny print badly oriented A4 map in Fine Art, 100 printed for ALL the visitors (!!!) where students had only a name credit on the wall, no titles, no instructions, eg do not open the drawers was on the A4, but NOT on the wall next to Sarah Kyndt’s piece).

The main room was crowded, but still accessible (as opposed to empty and dangerous, sigh) there was a flow of impressed visitors and students and their significants will feel this has been time, money and energy well spent. This exhibition is their springboard into a hopeful future, which given the economic climate is twice as necessary… holding themselves to these standards means that outside college, many will have the confidence to try online selling/small business as well as industry.

AMENDMENT: The Fine Art graduates (see lengthy comments section) assure me they feel happy with the preparation they have received, so what follows is inappropriate concern for them. And as other people liked it, these are not problems for them.

It is still a record of what I felt, coming away from the two graduate shows, and not meant to be “bitchy” in any way, simply a musing on how it made me feel, and think.

The  fine artists will have no preparation for putting on group exhibitions to attract curators and buyers, and yet, that is what artists most need, the practice at becoming self-sustaining… I am angry at them and FOR them… Making things well is an act of respect for ourselves, the viewers and the planet, a necessity in a world crowded with dross and rubbish. I hope the art students look at and learn from their design colleagues, whose work, presentation, commitment, passion and self respect all shine…