Graduate Showcase 2017/2018

The Graduates chosen for 2017/18 were:

  • Olivia Smith
  • James Bowen
  • Shannen McCusker
  • Elena Thornton
  • Kathryn Coulter
  • Niamh McCarthy
  • Beth Collins
  • Erum Waseem

Olivia Smith

Olivia Smith in her workroomMy bags demonstrate the relationships between colour and colour and are inspired by the movement and fluidity of shapesbeaded bag by Olivia Smith that I see within nature. They are embellished with beads, cords and yarns in a riotous and boisterous way, allowing me to build up textural layers and irresistible impact. I have designed the collection around the romantic idea that the bags, one day, will become precious heirlooms that are loved and then passed onto the next generation.

Shannen McCusker

Shannen McCusker logoShannen McCusker is a mixed-media textile designer who specialises in embroidery for fashion and interiors. Presented as textile artwork shannen showcases her diverse range of both traditional and contemporary embroidery techniques on a series of deconstructed garment pattern pieces.

Shannen describes her inspiration as eclectic. Her current embroidery collection which can be applied to both fashion and interiors, has evolved from a collage of ideas combining paper cut-out designs inspired by the Botanic Gardens Belfast with historical undercurrents of patchwork embroidery from the Victorian era. Incorporating both hand and machine processes Shannen pushes creative boundaries through rigorous experimentation with hand-dyed fabrics and threads, resulting in an intensely worked, elaborate, skillful textile surface design. The outcome is maximalist embroidery designs, saturated in colour with a playful, theatrical aesthetic.

Elena Thornton

Elena Thornton is an embroidery designer/maker specialising in couture body adornment. She thrives to create collections that are fashion forward and have an underlying theme from her upbringing in Bermuda. Work is distinguished by her use of intricate needlework techniques, combined with contemporary detailed design resulting in an exclusive series of embroidered pieces.Elena Thornton

The studio’s most recent collection, ‘Cereus’, explores the ephemeral life of the Night Blooming Cereus, more commonly know for the luminous pink fruit it yields. Each aspect of the flower is dissected and employed within the final interpretation to create a couture collection of face and neck adornments. Elena has elected to conceal the mouth of the wearer to reflect the reserved nature of the plant. Blooming only one night a year, the Cereus unveils a pristine flower before wilting by dawn. Although you may chance upon one on the tropical island of Bermuda, the colours are tame in appearance, influencing the final scheme.

Elena Thornton workGoldwork, a technique traditionally used on ceremonial robes is an integral part of Elena’s practice. The ornate nature of metal stitch, intertwined with a modern perspective produces distinguished and richly crafted embellishments. Merging techniques such as Goldwork and Stumpwork enable her to sculpt and manipulate the thread, forging innovative ways within the industry. The aesthetic plays with bold design and contrasts distinctively against the ethereal features contained within each piece.

Elena graduated from the Royal School of Needlework in 2017 with a BA(Hons) in Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art. She has a varied background of work experience including Burberry, Zandra Rhodes, Netflix (The Crown), HBO (Game of Thrones), Hussein Chalayan and Nicholas Oakwell. Throughout her studies she worked numerous times at Alexander McQueen, assisting in the creation of their A/W collections. She also received a total of three bursaries from The Victoria Adams Fund, The Worshipful Company of Needle makers and The Coats Foundation.

James Bowen

James BowenI’m a Loughborough University graduate, who specialised in Multimedia Traditional and Digital Embroidery and Printed textiles for Fashion. I graduated with a First Class Honours in Textiles: innovation and design in July 2017. My Graduate Collection was also displayed at New Designers 2017.

I have previously interned for Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou, Philip Tracey and J.W.Anderson each in different roles, as an Embroidery, Millinery and Fabric and development intern. For my graduate collection ‘Metamorphosis of the human form’, Luxury Fashion fabrics were inspired by the concept of Metamorphosis. A biological process by which an animal physically re-develops.

James Bowen embroidery samplesThe collection explores the story of the human form in the final stages of metamorphosis, evolving into a new surreal second skin. The colours and textures are influenced by aposematic animals and through my own development of experimental drawings, photography and digital work. Traditional 3D hand and Digital embroidery on luxury vivid faux furs and velvet creating surreal patterns and textures, exploiting the materials to if full potential. Leathers and digitally printed velvets are also flocked and foiled, conveying the concept of the newly evolved surreal second skin.

Kathryn Coulter

Kathryn CoulterKathrtb Coulter's workKathryn Coulter recently graduated from the Ulster University, Belfast, with a Bachelor Honours degree in Textile Art, Design and Fashion. “As a textile artist I am interested in testing the boundaries of embroidery and I create both small and large scale embroidered textiles, pursuing my own style. My current work combines machine and hand embroidery, inspired by the solitude of being in a forest. It was here I found comfort, safety and remoteness. Through both hand and machine stitch I am able to capture and preserve a unique thought, memory or emotion”.

Erum Waseem

Erum WaseemErum's hexagonsErum graduated from the Royal School of Needlework in Hand Embroidery for Fashion Interiors Textile Art. Blending traditional hand embroidery techniques with digital technology, Erum became interested in the potential to create new surfaces for high-end interiors. Taking inspiration from floral patters, she enhanced geometric patterned laser-cut acrylic with hand embroidery to create unique wall mounted panels.

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