Artist of the Week: Louisa Newton

As a young child, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I’d have two answers; either a beekeeper or a designer.

The older I got, the image in my head of me walking around the garden in a white hooded suit with matching gloves became less and less attractive. It was always, and probably always will be, a childhood fantasy that will remain in my imagination and occasionally be used by others as a joke at my expense. Art and design, however, is something I know I want to be in my future.

My name is Louisa, I am a student in Liverpool and I’m currently studying for my Foundation in Art and Design; specialising in Fashion and Textiles. Art has played a large role in my life for as long as I can remember; my mother majored in Textiles in her teaching degree and my dad was a keen photographer when he was younger. I had a passion for art in school and at home I’d write and illustrate my own children’s books (I wanted to be like Nick Sharratt for a long time). I am still very young and I have barely begun my journey. I completely messed around through my first year in college – I couldn’t really get to grips with the authority of it and hated being told what to do or how to be creative, yet somehow I still hit all my targets and got into second year. This is what gave me the drive to succeed in my final year. I thought, if I can do no work and still do pretty well; what can I achieve if I put some effort in? Thus began “Avant-Garde”.

8379121213_32cf7b3ab7_oA cliché title for a collection, but it does what it says on the tin. This collection has been my best work to date, albeit I am only 18 but this is the work I can look at and know I’ve achieved something. This collection was for Unit 3 of my A-level in Textile Design, there was no design brief or any guidance as to what I was meant to do so I had to rely on my imagination to get the grades.

The collection is made up of three different ‘garments’, although they are completely unwearable and you would look like an idiot if you attempted to leave the house wearing any of the pieces. The starting point was ‘exploring alternatives’, in my work and personal life. Wasting my time sitting around and bunking off college wasn’t really working for me so I had to explore an alternative option; just like conventional fabric didn’t really appeal to me, so I looked for other materials. I researched designers and artists that used alternative materials in their work, ranging from an average student who made a dress from phonebook paper to the infamous Hussein Chalayan.

The collection was divided into three looks, “Picturesque”, “Sombre” and “Neutral”. Sombre is a piece made entirely from bin bag ruffles, its basically one long ruffle that is wrapped over the body to create whatever form or shape desired. Neutral is two separate pieces, the ‘top’ is layers of stitched tissue paper, bin bags and plastic on a metal wire. The skirt is a wire bubble, covered in plastic bags and tissue paper. Picturesque is my favourite piece, it was also the one which took the longest time and proved the most demanding. Picturesque is created by stitching onto strips of translucent paper, before threading them onto a long wire coil and wrapping it around the body. It weighs a ton, took me atleast 3 months to make and is the main culprit for numerous paper cuts. To say I literally put blood sweat and tears into that dress is an understatement.

8290073467_eefb61c124_oWhat I like most about the collection is that none of the pieces have a set style or shape, they’re all wire coil based so you can easily manipulate and change each piece to create a completely different outfit. This collection was a turning point in my education, not only did I prove to myself, but also to my tutors and my family that I could achieve something if I worked hard enough. This was ultimately when I decided that Textile Design was an industry I wanted to pursue a career in.

After studying my Foundation, I hope to study Fashion Textiles: Print at the London College of Fashion, then who knows what next. I still might become a beekeeper after all this. I’m still incredibly inexperienced, and do not consider myself as an artist right now, but give me a few years yet.

To find out more about Louisa, visit http://cargocollective.com/louisanewton

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