About Philippa Hill

Hello! I’m Philippa and I am a recent graduate from Edinburgh College of Art where I studied Textile Design. Since graduating I’ve interned and started my own mini craft company ‘De La Rue’. I’m currently an Artist in Residence at ECA and I cannot wait to showcase emerging talent from the beautiful city of Edinburgh! I came across the Born in Britain platform when my fashion collaboration with fellow student Marie Leiknes was blogged about last year and I am extremely excited to be an ambassador! I believe that we can leave a lot from British heritage and love uncovering things about the past that can influence the present and future. I love discovering things off the beaten track, traveling and finding that something a bit different! I am so keen to discover emerging talent from Edinburgh and showcase their amazing work. I think that every creative should deserve at least their 15 minutes of fame and ‘Born in Britain’ is the perfect project for this.

Edinburgh College of Art Textile Design Graduates Part One

The Textile Design department at Edinburgh College of Art is always full of hardworking students amongst a vivid display of patterns, drawings, colour, fabric samples and an array of colour. Inspiration behind this years graduates work ranges from growing up in the 90s to a tiny Eastern European village called Koniakow famous for its crochet. As well as exhibiting at Edinburgh College of Art’s degree show the inspiring graduates have also just returned from exhibiting at New Designers in London showcasing their designs to various designers and those in the industry.

Katrina Bell‘s collection (main image) ‘a nod to nostalgia’ is a bright and quirky interior collection aimed at new parents who want to recall their childhood in the 1970s/80s. Stamps, shapes and colour is really important to her collection which involved traditional screen printing, heat press techniques and embroidery on woolen blankets, drawer liners, cushions and fabric samples. Alongside her youthful approach to design, Katrina has an array of skills and with plenty of experience during work placements in industry (and a few in the pipeline!) the future is very bright (and colourful). See for yourself on her  website

Kirsty McCann‘s collection (left image) is a definite must see for anyone who grew up in the 90s. ‘Acceptable in the 90s’ celebrates the 90s cliches, inflatable bubble bags, trolls and incredibly recreates the ‘scratch and sniff’craze through screenprinted scents on to fabrics. Bold, bright and unexpected Kirsty’s collection shows her skills in embroidery, screen printing, digital printing and hand embellishment. Relive your childhood on her website

Graduate designer Olivia May O’Connor’s collection is inspired by the act of collecting, birds, bones and historic, iconic textiles. Her atmospheric colour palette and great use of scale is really shown off in the eye catching curtains while her fabric samples combine leather, interior fabrics with digital printing, laser etching and traditional techniques. Olivia has amazing hand drawing skills (right image) and designs for both the Fashion and Interior market. She is a very versatile designer and won the Duchamp Luxury Menswear Digital Print competition while at university. Delve more into her collection on her website



Graduate Textile Designers and their unique projects

Camilla Wordie and Emily Martin are two Textile Design graduates from Edinburgh College of Art with distinctive degree projects showing an interesting take on Textiles. Both graduates spent their final year producing personal projects which show an innovative approach to the norm of textile design.

Camilla Wordie‘s degree project blurs the boundary between food and textiles. She started with ‘Edible Textiles’ in which she transformed food into wearable surfaces by changing the form of the food and its common structure. Every week when I was in the studio Camilla would have a desk full of food – pasta, chocolate, noodles, oats- and would be experimenting with transforming its texture, composition or form into a surface unrecognisable from its ordinary state.

Her degree work took an unusual approach: ‘wearing rice is nice’ is a collection of rice inspired fabrics made from manipulating various types of rice to add textures to your dining experience, all with a subtleness to the design and white colour palette; ‘please add me to your dish’ (main image) encourages diners to add an ingredient to their dish making a physical interaction with the ingredients and your food including a herb flooring. The ingredients are manipulated food products cleverly done with a variety of textile processes playing with textures, scale and composition.

Camilla’s exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art’s degree show definitely drew attention for its individual concept, perfect branding and immaculate presentation. Have a look for yourself at Camilla’s website

Emily Martin‘s ‘Collective Recollections’ degree project aims to help those with dementia. Her collection of wall hangings for Edinburgh’s care homes are a talking point for the residents and visitors with scenes of Edinburgh referencing the 1950s encouraging viewers to reminisce the city and their past – they are great conversation starters! She worked with the ‘Oasis dementia cafe’ in Edinburgh, which supports those with dementia, to share her ideas, get some feedback and get creative! With Portobello Beach, Blackford Pond and Princes St Gardens as her chosen scenes Emily combined a wealth of textile processes – digital print, traditional screenprinting, hand embroidery – to produce large detailed wall hangings that are both visually and texturally stimulating – a key feature for those with dementia. Emily has used the wall hangings as starting points for craft and art activities with the ‘Oasis dementia cafe’ group. See her wall hangings in full detail on her website .

Both Camilla and Emily have had successful textile careers so far with various award nominations and wins! The future is definitely bright and innovative…

Mat Hay Photography

Recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University Mat Hay had his work on display at the recent Graduate Show. His photographs were eye catching, powerful and I just wanted to know more…

His website showcases his vast photography experience in different settings including portraiture, stunning landscape shots (my fav is the San Diego one) and great ‘movement’ shots of skaters. Mat has been shortlisted for the graduate Futureproof exhibition held in Glasgow and Aberdeen (fingers crossed).

Mat’s graduate project ‘The Messenger’ questions the power of storytelling, persuasion and the workings of religion. His work is so intriguing and held a deeper meaning than the other works on display. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions…

What was your inspiration behind your graduate project (left)?

‘It started with a visual anthropology project I was doing on Varanasi on the Ganges, and the Hindu rituals and beliefs which dominate the lives of the people in that area. While researching different religions, including Hinduism, and reading Van Gennep’s book ‘The Rights of Passage’, I became fascinated with the countless religious stories and beliefs around the world today. This led me to consider how as humans we seem to rely on science and logic to exist but we still have an instinct to believe in some pretty unbelievable stuff. It is a very interesting situation to be in’.

What were the challenges of this project?

‘The big challenge was dealing with such large groups of people and working without a budget. The cast and crew all volunteered their time for free so I tried to get each shot done quickly, particularly in the freezing mid-winter Scottish weather. Everyone was really committed though which was fantastic. The biggest positive was the people and the locations – they made the project!’

How about a bit about your yourself?

‘I’ve been exploring lots of different types of photographic work during my degree studies which has been great. I’ve met some really interesting and accomplished individuals which has really helped to develop my thinking and practice. I think the highlights recently have been working for Nadav Kander then, through that, getting to interview Broomberg and Chanarin who were a large part of my discussion in my dissertation’.

And what are your plans now that you’ve graduated?

‘My plans are to expand this project over the summer. Then I’ll hopefully move back to London to carry on assisting others while starting some new projects of my own’.

Check out Mat’s work on his website and look out for future exhibitions displaying his work. Good luck Mat, with such skills I’m sure we’ll be hearing about your work in the future.

Creative Graduates from Edinburgh Napier University

Last sunny weekend I visited Edinburgh Napier’s University Creative Degree Show 2013. I hadn’t been before but as the underdog of creative university’s in Edinburgh there was a certain number of graduates that caught my eye. Main image – Product Designer Aimi Robertson, Bottom Images – Graphic Designer Sam Dexter.

Aimi Roberston is a graduate in Product Design with a love for furniture design and restoration. Lucky enough to have been on exchange in China for 5 months last year she has great experience and has a fun approach to her work as a designer. Her degree project shows a love for Scottish Industry using Harris Tweed in an interior context. It’s quirky use of Harris Tweed shows the traditional fabric in a new light.

Originally from Inverness Aimi has shown her Scottish roots by using the iconic Scottish Harris Tweed jacket in a bespoke piece of furniture taking direct influence from the jacket with the 2 pocket detailing on the sofa with a modern twist. The bespoke piece has a strong historic narrative showcasing Harris Tweed’s history yet comments on Harris Tweed’s recent resurgence. The sofa uses high class materials yet is designed to be extremely flexible and I can see it fitting nicely within people’s homes. It is a great take on the traditional and ties in nicely with the current handmade market with consumers seeking out hand made, quality items rather than mass made. Aimi’s branded her idea really well even down to the traditional bottle of whisky in the sofa’s pocket!

Sam Dexter’s ‘Red Letter Day Project’ motion graphic piece informs the public about a particular event that is important to the history of Edinburgh. With an interest in philosophy and ethics, Sam chose the birth of the philosopher David Hume and his theory called the ‘Induction Fallacy’. As Sam explained to me ‘Induction Fallacy’ theory implies that nothing in our world can be predicted. In the stop frame animation she communicates this theory-which would usually be quite hard to understand- in a humorous way using dominoes, similarly tumbling but with one rogue domino breaking the rules in an extraordinary way! As her first stop-frame animation and using 112 dominoes Sam’s made this animation with perfect detail and you can watch it here. Sam said that what she likes about graphic design is that ‘you can communicate with the audience on so many different levels and make a subject like The Induction Fallacy something quite light hearted and easy to grasp. I like to think my work is light hearted and uplifting. Since this project a lot of my work has been motion graphic based, I really enjoy film and projects that involve interaction and involvement with the public…’. Her attention to detail is incredible! Make sure you have a look at her ‘Red Herring Route’ intervention project which made people in Edinburgh look, and see, the city differently from usual.

Good luck to both Aimi and Sam!


Janet Gourlay – Fresh talent from Fife

Janet can usually be found surrounded by research images, photos of sea birds, inspiring colours and beautiful prints. She has amazing drawing skills, is a Photoshop pro and can put nearly absolutely anything into repeat! As a freelance Textile Designer currently starting her own business ‘Ardgour’ (nicely named after her father’s fishing boat in Fife) Janet has a personal, feminine style and her work continues to evolve following on from a MFA in Textile Design at Edinburgh College of Art. With a wealth of experience including designing for Bebaroque and Alex Begg Cashmere, her business is one to watch and her designs, inspired by local wildlife and countryside in Fife have already attracted a local audience.

From fashion Collaborations to producing upholstery fabric and metres of hand printed wallpaper Janet has it covered. A skilled designer she has now turned her eye to sea birds and she spends hours drawing the birds to the finest detail before translating these on to fabric. Her company ‘Ardgour’ is in the starter stages and each item will be proudly made in Scotland. Janet’s designs are a modern twist on the traditional and she is definitely making Fife proud!

Join the Ardgour clan by following on twitter @ArdgourStudio

Follow Janet’s work http://janetgourlay.blogspot.co.uk/to see the development of her own business and to bag yourself a beaut when they go on sale!

Kirsty Baynham’s colourful illustrations

Strolling around the art boutique shops of Edinburgh I came across Kirsty’s bright, colourful illustrations and, as a massive fan of everything geometric, I loved them. Kirsty graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2011 with a degree in Illustration and has certainly put her skills to good use producing allsorts of goods from gift wrap and cards to Giclee prints and screenprinted bags.  She has an individual style teaming animals with intricate geometrics, detailed patterning, colour blocking and a playful manner with shapes. Her strong individual aesthetic has a definite identity yet is commercially successful and has been key to her success as a freelance illustrator.

I contacted Kirsty and she kindly answered some questions about her design work, her experience so far and gives her invaluable advice to freelance designers.

Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2011 I have been working as a freelance illustrator. My business ‘Prism of Starlings’ is a range of design-led paper goods, prints, textile and stationery items. My current focus is on designing a small collection of hand-made artist’s books and limited edition zines.


How have you found working as a freelance illustrator?

While it’s hard to get started as a freelancer, it’s a nice feeling to move forward in this discipline. Looking back on the past year, I found it much more of a struggle to get work at first, but once you develop a portfolio and contacts, opportunities do arise. I think most illustrators would agree that their artistic style stays fluid, to a certain degree, long-term, so even though I have developed a more definitive style over the past year or so, there is still a degree of flexibility which enables me to still think of this job as a novelty.

How do you start an idea? What is your inspiration?

I find myself making lots of lists, to make sure every idea I think of is documented in case it develops into something. I always have an aesthetic in mind which I want to convey before I start drawing, and it generally comes from something abstract: either a combination of colours I’ve observed, a shape I want to experiment with, or a visual hybridisation I’ve been able to photograph. I’m constantly looking for random juxtaposition of styles to take inspiration from. I believe all design work needs a level of ambiguity, and I like to create this by giving each design a backstory, which is vaguely reminiscent in the design. Concepts don’t always need to be loud, but I think they inspire a more enthusiastic approach to each piece of work.

Are there any times that you have been stuck in a design rut… do you have any advice?

It’s easy to fall into a design rut, and it’s easy to take the wrong route when trying to escape from it. I think the secret is actually to avoid changing your style/routine sporadically or for the sake of necessity, and instead to be as objective as possible and make changes in a methodical manner. Different approaches suit different people, but from my experience – go back to the basics, do your research, familiarise yourself with the progress of your work over the past few months by literally laying it out and re-evaluate the main priorities of your design work. Ask yourself, has your work become too heavily commercial and you no longer identify with the aesthetic? Are the restraints of your print method or colour scheme restricting your creativity? Are you thinking too much about how your work fits into current trends and have lost an identifiable element that makes it your own? Good design is fuelled by enthusiasm, simplicity and direction, so it’s important that you’re not putting so many restraints on your work that it becomes laborious.


I am completely in love with Kirsty’s notebooks – why buy a normal boring run of the mill notebook when you can have one of these beauties?!! Her Etsy shop is definitely the place to visit if your looking for any quirky stationery, presents for friends and fab unique prints. I’m already imagining my future house glittered with her beautiful prints. Her portfolio is on her website along with her contact details. Have a look and nap yourself a unique notebook or one off print!



Can you make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?

Aztec triangles, Labrador lockets, Scottish thistles, Stags and Octopus earrings…. sound amazing?! They are just a few items that Eilidh Strang hand makes under her business ‘Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear’. Her jewellery has popped up recently in almost every boutique shop in Edinburgh and is the essential, unique item for every girls jewellery box.

With no formal jewellery training, I’m amazed at the craftmanship behind Eilidh’s designs and production. Using mainly vintage materials – found and reworked – many of her items are limited runs or ‘one of a kind’. My favourites are the ‘Scottish Thistle Locket’ a perfect keepsake of Scotland, the Seafoam Triangle Earrings and the Swallow brooch (see images). She has something to suit all tastes from floral studs, Moroccon influenced rings to personalised lockets.

I asked Eilidh some questions about her work, her inspiration and her success…

What is your inspiration for your jewellery?

 My inspiration tends to be picturing the different ways that my jewellery can be worn.  I especially love the idea of my jewellery being ‘bunged on’ with an old jumper and jeans, without having to be dressed-up or styled particularly.  When I imagine my jewellery being worn by women, it’s always in a really casual, day to day way.  The idea of a lion brooch or frog locket making an everyday outfit just a little bit different is inspiring to me.

Was it easy to get your business started?

Fairly easy.  I’ve had quite a strong sense of where I’m going with my designs, and ethos more generally, from the beginning which I think helps enormously.  For instance, while I can see the beauty and simplicity in very delicate, silver jewellery, I still recognise that it’s not where I want to go with Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear.  Things have also grown fairly slowly and steadily since I started out, which has given me the chance to keep up!

How do you see your business progressing?

For the moment, I am happy carrying on as I am.  From the beginning I have operated by making the most of every opportunity I can, and just see where it takes me – I will definitely continue to do this and see where I end up!  For me, the most important thing is having the freedom to design and introduce new designs on an ongoing, weekly basis, rather than being restricted to a couple of ‘collections’ a year.  From the very beginning this has been a really important thing for me because it keeps things fresh and interesting – for me and my customers.  Selling online and in small, independent boutiques is ideal for this way of working, and I’m really happy with it!

What is your favourite piece?

At the moment, my favourite design is my Bee Hive Necklace (below). It just incorporates the two areas of design that I love best – clean, classic and wearable geometric shapes, with little element of fun to make it worth talking about. 

What would you say your biggest success so far is?

One of my proudest moments to date was being asked to sell in the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.  I’ll freely admit I did a lap of honour round my living room that day!

Seek out a one off item for yourself at www.silkpursesowsear.com or at Eilidh’s Etsy shop

You can also follow her on Twitter and  Facebook to keep up to date with new listings as Eilidh seeks new materials, vintage items and shares her quirky ideas.



James Bruce Textile Designer

Over 6 ft 8 tall, size 15 feet and always happy. James – ‘the friendly giant’ (don’t worry he is a close friend of mine) is a recent textile design graduate from Edinburgh College of Art where he gained a 1st class degree last year. His degree collection ‘Holocene Extinction’ is a definite reflection of James’s character. It is a vibrant wardrobe commenting on the evolution of man and the destruction of natural habitats in clashing colours contrasting patterns with hand drawn intricate imagery. He juxtaposed harsh structural forms of factories and urban buildings with delicately drawn animals exploring their pattern, texture and skeletal forms.He devoted hours to not only screenprinting his collection but also producing digital prints alongside spending hours embellishing the prints with stitching and beading (albeit while watching a good film!) His fur embroidered sample is definitely one that has to be seen and it went down a storm at New Designers! His degree collection is a massive fresh take on menswear and was nominated for the David Band award at Graduate Fashion Week.

 As other screenprinters will know it can be hard, manual graft but James’s height and strength make it look like a breeze (annoyingly!) as he produces prints in minutes and carts screens around the printroom as if they are as light as a feather! With strong drawing skills and a experimental approach James find inspiration in the bizarrest things(!) from the TV screen when it has no signal to graffiti and geometric patterns found on the street. With past work experience at Timorous Beasties and at George at Asda, for which he was the runner up in their Graduate Fashion Week National Competition 2011 for his childrenswear collection (some of his designs went into production and were beautiful girls dresses!), he seems to be working in his way into the textile field with ease.

In the past year James has worked on his own range of hand screenprinted scarves and t-shirts while broadening his portfolio with some interior design. He is currently an Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art and is always there to help lend a hand or give his unique view.

Check out James’ creations on his tumblr http://jamesbruce786.tumblr.com/


Our Nation’s Sons Street Art Project

You may have noticed large drawings of teenagers appear on the walls of Edinburgh and it’s all down to Joe Caslin – a recent graduate from Edinburgh College of Art. His project ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ sees drawings of teenagers appearing all over Edinburgh as a way to reestablish young mens participation within society, discussing and questioning the place and preconceptions of young men in society. The huge drawings – some at 40 ft high – have attracted the attention of Edinburgh’s cityfolk to stop and stare.

The project is supported by the Lothian and Borders Police neighbourhood team and Edinburgh City Council’s city centre neighbourhood partnership.

Young men from local high schools helped install the artworks – making their mark on Edinburgh.

To find out more about the project and Joe visit his website

Hannah and the Moon – BAFTA New Talent winner

Kate Charter is an Edinburgh College of Art Animation graduate who has just won the BAFTA New Talent award and Best New work award at the British Academy event held at Glasgow’s Oran Mor at the end of March. Her animation ‘Hannah and the Moon’ is a short film about a girl who leaves home to find her friend. The film is like an animated hand drawn picture book incorporating text instead of a traditional narrative.

Kate’s past work experience include working for a local agency in Leith, creating animations for a charity project called ‘Rock Opera’ and working on the visual effects and Foley sound recording on a film called ‘Seams in the Dark’, directed by Claire Lamond.With such huge success that Kate has had recently I’m sure amazing things are on the horizon…

I asked Kate a few questions about her brilliant talent, her university career and her aims for the future.

What was your inspiration behind ‘Hannah the Moon’?

“The idea came from a few different places. When I was a child I had a story called ‘The House and the Golden Windows’ which I fancied adapting but I also wanted to include a character with long bony fingers and I knew I wanted it to be set at night. Originally I thought I wanted to adapt an existing children’s book but after searching I decided to write my own. Incorporating text into the film came from listening to a Women’s hour show on Radio 4 on the future of Ebooks. The idea stuck in my head and I believed there was a new place for animation.”

Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh College of Art?

“I thought that Edinburgh was a really nice city. To be honest it was a shot in the dark and I didn’t know a lot about the actual animation course. Fortunately I fell on my feet!”

What has happened since graduation? And where do you see yourself in ten years time?

“Since graduating I’ve spent some time at home in Cambridge (I spent the Summer driving a tractor for my family’s farm! -I think it was a head in the sand moment) and now I’m back in Edinburgh finding my way into the quickly evolving and competitive digital media world. In the future I would love to be writing, illustrating, animating and designing apps for my children’s stories. I love Oliver Jeffers and I’d quite like to follow in his footsteps.”

Any advice for future animation students?

“Just do it! You have to bite the bullet with animation and get stuck in! Sometimes the best stuff can be made in a day and sometimes it takes months to get what you want. The best thing about studying animation for me was the people I was surrounded by and the camaraderie of being in a studio for so many hours! In fact my best advice is to be nice-as your classmates will become your family!”

Check out Kate’s website katecharter.com , her picture book complimenting the film and her blog showing her working methods