Why I chose to study Textiles - BA (Hons)
I always knew I wanted to come to Edinburgh – when I came to visit for the open day in September 2014, I was so impressed with the campus, it was a beautiful sunny day and walking around discovering the city was a lovely experience. This cemented my dreams to come to ECA and textiles was the course I wanted to be on the most. Having looked at all the online information and hearing from current students all the vast opportunities available to students at ECA I knew I had to work hard on my application to gain a place. The fact that ECA has only a few spaces every year also appealed to me as I knew the tutors must pick the most diverse and original applications to create an interesting year group. Within a smaller class cohort you are also able to build better relationships with your tutors and classmates. ECA is right in the centre of the city and the art college also has its own library which is full of fabulous resources - I knew I wanted to spend time researching in these spaces as well as in the beautiful studios at ECA.
My time at ECA
I came to ECA straight from leaving school and we dived in right away with lots of little drawing projects, which was great as we got to see everyone else’s style of drawing as well as their way of working. First year was all about challenging our perceptions of drawing and researching as well as learning different screen-printing and dyeing techniques in the print room opposite the studio. It is great that this facility is so close to the studio, and you have access to it whenever you wish. We worked on some great collaborative projects in first and second year, joining up with other students in the fashion and interior design courses, which meant we were able to develop our connections with other students and learn how their programmes operate.
In third year, we worked on a project in textiles as a whole year group. Taking fabric samples from IKEA, we created our own designs of Edinburgh that we screen-printed onto the textiles, these were then made into products in collaboration with Kalopsia in Leith and sold in the University to raise money towards funding our New Designers experience in fourth year. This really taught us about working as a team, as part of a business as well as the different roles involved in production, marketing, pitching, and developing.
In fourth year, we got to work on our own final projects, developing these over the course of the year as well as taking part in mini projects-along the way. I absolutely loved fourth year and really enjoyed seeing all my course mates put everything into a project they cared deeply about and wanted to create an amazing collection that represented themselves.
Outside of ECA, I spent two summers as an Arts Counsellor for Camp America which was an amazing experience, and I would recommend to everyone. I also interned in third year for a design company in London for four weeks where I learnt a lot and was able to really develop my digital skills. If I could go back to first year now, I would definitely ask my tutors more about their experience in the design world and how they became tutors (as I think this is something I would definitely love to do.)
My experiences since graduating
I was sad to leave ECA and did not want the course to end. Even though I had been there for 4 years and was looking forward to what would come next, I knew that I would miss all my fellow course mates and the exciting projects we worked on. As well as enjoying designing and researching new trends, I also really loved learning more about the business side of textiles and how fashion companies are changing. We learnt a lot about circular economies, recycled textiles and I wrote my dissertation on the social and environmental impacts of fast fashion. Since leaving ECA, I worked as an ‘Artist in Residence’ at a private school here in Edinburgh – as well as helping in lessons and running lunchtime clubs, I also had access to my own studio where I worked on my own studio practice, working on print commissions (mainly screen-prints) and other exciting projects, as well as continuing to research the fashion industry. This residency has just come to an end and now I am studying for an MSc in ‘Fashion and Textiles Management’ at Heriot-Watt, as well as continuing to create new print designs in my spare time.
My biggest achievement since leaving ECA was a large-scale public artwork installed in the façade of the Festival theatre during December 2020. I applied to their open call and was selected from over 60 entries to install my piece ‘Hanging by a Million Threads.’ The purpose of this piece was to say thank you to everyone who donated to the theatre’s fundraiser over lockdown and ultimately helped to save the building. This artwork was in the windows for 4 months, half of the fabric was made into 1000 facemasks in collaboration with Kalopsia in Leith, one has been framed and will remain on the theatre’s wall and the rest will be donated to ECA Fashion, Textiles and Costume students.
My advice to new and current students
I you are about to begin studying at ECA in September, I would suggest going for a good wander around ECA, the building can sometimes feel like a bit of a labyrinth and studios can be hidden along corridors and upstairs. Grab a couple of your course mates and go for a good explore, try and find reprographics, the woodwork shop, the risograph printer and the fabric store in Performance Costume.
My advice to anyone graduating would be to find a little placement that interests you. If you’re staying in Edinburgh, ask your tutors if they have any suggestions for anyone taking on interns. You don’t need to walk into a full-time job straight away, building up little steps and trying out different things can really work to your advantage.