Bridget Harvey is a PhD student at CCW and member of Textiles Environment Design (TED) and Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC). She is a practitioner outside of her PhD, here she tells us about her participation in the TEXTILE TOOLBOX online exhibition, an online exhibtion launching on the 13 November 2014. It is a showcase of ten propositional design concepts inspired by Mistra research into the sustainability of the fashion and textile industry.
- Tell us about the work you are including in Textile Toolbox: A Jumper to Lend, A Jumper to Mend, by Bridget Harvey – why did you chose this work?
I was invited to make a piece responding to the idea of a clothing library – a place where people can borrow clothes, as one would borrow books. I thought about this in terms of practicality and aesthetics to start with. Repair is a form of customisation so alongside the repaired jumper I felt there should be a kit containing the materials needed to mend your own clothes in keeping with your own style. Along with this I developed a conceptual tool kit, which ‘mends’ the material of the jumper. Wool is highly processed before we use it and I am interested in the process needed to repair it to its original material form. These tool kits offer different things – one is an aid to DIY and wardrobe maintenance, and the other is information about material origins. The jumper posits repair as an aesthetic choice, and embeds the action of repair as a slogan or logo within itself.
- Where do you do most of your work/research?
Where I work depends on my day. I have access to hot-desking spaces at both Chelsea and Camberwell (where my supervisors are based) but if I am not in college I work from my studio in east London. I use all the university libraries as they have different collections but for working in I find the quiet room at LCF best. My studio is my favourite workspace though as I have 2 desks there, one ‘clean’, for writing and reading, and one ‘messy’, for making. I find that going between writing and making as I need to is my most fluid and productive way of working.
- What is it like to be part of TED and TFRC? How does it affect your work?
Being part of TED and TFRC is brilliant – I have a built in network for support and information, as well as a base to work from. Their profile means that they are involved in projects I would otherwise not have access too, and I get to meet exciting people through them. I also introduce people to the groups – their web platforms show great examples of what practice based research is.
- How do you balance your work as PhD student and practitioner?
I see my practice as holistic so I try to incorporate both into all my activities. Some areas of my practice are less directly related to my research (my commercial making for example), but still link in through my material, aesthetic and ethical choices. The balance challenge is more between time for work and time not for work! I am lucky though that I am excited by what I do, so even when I am working a long week I still generally find it enjoyable.
- Why did you choose UAL to do a PhD and how has your experience been so far?
I chose UAL as I had done my BA and MA’s there, I was familiar with the university sites and systems and felt this would make the transition to PhD easier. I knew that I would get the support I needed, be able to work with the supervisory team I wanted and that, as my proposal was in line with the university tenets, I had the greatest chance I could give myself of being awarded the scholarship I needed. UAL has a strong reputation for practice based research and the practitioners who work there are well recognised, this was also important to me as was access to the workshops, libraries and technicians.