pb100334Ms Walsh’s second year Textile Design students were thrilled to be given the opportunity to take part in a competition as part of the Future Creatives Programme, organised in conjunction with Manchester Art Gallery. Students responded to an exhibition at the gallery entitled ‘Fashion and Freedom’, regarding women in World War One. They were asked to work to the theme of ‘Restriction and Release, creating a garment, film or sculptural piece to be showcased in a fashion show at the gallery .

The competition was linked to the 14 -18 – NOW campaign to remember the centenary of WW1, especially the role of women in Britain at the time. The project highlighted the sacrifices women made, their political obligations and their battle for freedom, showing restrictions they faced within society and the release that came during and after the war. The competition gave young creative talent in Manchester the opportunity to showcase the quality and diversity of their work.

Students were given the brief in August and began working towards the competition in September. All second year Loreto Textile Design students took part, with eleven being selected as finalists, along with others from colleges and sixth forms across Manchester. Students created ideas from primary research at the gallery, which they presented to their teachers who had the task of narrowing down the selection before submission to the gallery board; a final selection was then made and students were given two weeks to finalise their pieces, visiting the gallery on numerous occasions to share ideas and gain inspiration for the final fashion show, which was held in the atrium of the 6gallery, and featured staff from the gallery, professional models and a DJ from Key 103.

This enterprising venture captured the imagination of students and gallery staff alike. One staff member observed that: “This was a wonderful opportunity for students to devise creative and meaningful ideas in response to an important historical event. Knowing that they had the chance to showcase their work to the public fuelled their enthusiasm and the students came up with some really intelligent and inspiring concepts.”

Loreto student Sophie Shelley was equally enthusiastic, commenting: “I enjoyed every minute of this amazing opportunity to work with the gallery, being able to share ideas in a group and create an original and exciting outcome. It has really boosted my confidence as a Textiles student and given me a taste of what it is like to work in the textiles and fashion industry. It was such a positive experience for me to look back on and be proud of.”

Fellow student Jessica Hand appreciated “….being able to be a part of this, as I am lucky to have been chosen out of the hundreds of candidates, and this, I am sure, will help me in the future.”