It’s that time of year again, hundreds of degree shows happening throughout the UK during June and July. So far I’ve only managed to get to one, Chelsea College of Arts and of course I headed straight to textiles. Except for the very welcoming student team on duty there weren’t many students around to talk about their work but it was 11.30am on the Saturday morning after the private view and I expect for most a very late Friday night working on finishing touches. The collections were exceptional, an incredibly high standard, a real treat to see work of this quality and the attention to detail and innovative branding was superb. However the most memorable experience for me was Dora Burns. I was saying to a friend that it would be nice if there were more students to explain the process of their work and when we turned the corner there was Dora  sitting beside her mini allotment with real plants growing out of the studio floor and her beautiful elegant largely floral indigo and other natural dye resist textiles. She explained the rich narrative behind her work. I think she said she’d received funding to work with her local allotment community to create collaborative patterns. Her final collection responded to a question, “Does pattern have to be superficial and imitative or can it capture a fleeting moment, the fingerprint of a place or even the spirit of a person?” She used a number of pattern making experiments with her allotment community in Upper Norwood in South East London. These included a fun filled community visit to the local museum for additional ideas. Her textiles told the stories of the rich lives of her allotment community. These included Beverly, the former solicitor and accomplished cake maker whose printed sun hat was inspired by two textiles she brought in Jamaica. The boiler suit for Tim spoke of his life as a bus driver, cider maker and organic gardner with the silhouettes of his hazel nut trees used for pattern. Dora’s approach to indigo dyeing was collaborative as well, sharing an indigo vat with fellow Chelsea students working with natural dyes. If you want to find out more about Dora you can read her blog at For more information about the degree shows and other graduate events I’ve found this useful listing on Creative Review’s blog   20140624-120404-43444148.jpg


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Chelsea College of Arts – Textile Degree Show and ” Dora’s Soul Full” textiles

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