Chelsea College of Art and the WI

Note from Penny on her experience of the BA Textiles Student Project:

BA Textiles Student Project

November 2020 to March 2021

This was a joint project between the WI’s National Public Affairs and Denman teams, and the University of the Arts London Chelsea College site.

Preliminary information came out in November, and I submitted an application which asked for my experience and interest in work with textiles. We weren’t asked to submit any previous work.

There was an initial briefing in early December, and then it kicked off in February.

Spread over 5 weeks, it was a very interesting experience, if sometimes baffling. There were 19 different virtual events over that time; varying from simple online chats with some of the more than 90 other WI participants, to tutorials with hands-on opportunities, lectures, and presentations from Chelsea’s internal staff and visiting lecturers. These were delivered over 3 different platforms, Zoom for WI meetings, Microsoft Teams for meetings with Chelsea staff & students, and Blackboard for lectures. These were not always successful, I spent half of one presentation trying to see anything other than a fellow WI member eating her lunch apparently unaware her camera was on.

From the students’ perspective the purpose was to introduce them to

“…professional communication of design strategies. Understanding your audience and how to communicate your ideas clearly is a fundamental skill in design.”

As I understood it, the WI was a quasi-client for design responses to the issues identified in our Resolutions. At the same time WI Members were encouraged to engage in a similar reactive process within their own personal practice.

The presentations I did watch were all very interesting and provoked ideas. We were allocated a small group to support a small group of students, but they did not all engage. The other WI members in my group had active textile skills and knowledge and “our” one student was very talented and enthusiastic. I am part of a Creative Embroidery evening class, and our tutor Isabel Dodd is from Chelsea and is this student’s tutor so we had another common experience.

Finally, all the work of members and students has been collated into an on line exhibition :-