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We Are MA: Lizzie Kimbley, Textile Design

At Norwich University of the Arts, students on MA Textile Design stretch the boundaries of the discipline through creative use of materials, processes and concepts. Part time student Lizzie Kimbley is coming to the end of her MA, and shares her love of sustainable textiles and why she changed career direction.

What brought you to NUA? 

I’ve always had a love of textiles and making, dipping in and out of evening classes over the years. I was a project manager for an online marketing company, but when my daughter was born I was able to take a career break while she was small.

A dress-making class led to the Access to HE: Art and Design course at City College Norwich and I was encouraged to apply to the BA (Hons) Textile Design course at NUA. I’ve always felt very lucky to have a specialist creative arts university on my doorstep!

I loved my time at NUA and really enjoyed the supportive and encouraging community. I knew there were still ideas I wanted to explore after my BA so decided to return for the MA Textile Design.

Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

My work explores sustainable textiles and circular design. I work with natural materials, often those that are locally found or a waste product of another design process.

Concerned with the lifecycle of materials, I create woven textiles that can be recycled or will biodegrade so no waste is left behind. I have an experimental approach to materials, learning about their inherent properties and exploring these on and off the loom.

Working with discarded natural materials such as willow and reed has led to experiments with basketry techniques which then inform my woven work.  

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Why is Textile Design important to you?

I love the idea of creating something from scratch, something from nothing.  With constructed textiles you choose every element that goes into the work: the colours, textures, structures and materials. You get to build a narrative into the work through these choices which I find really exciting.

What’s been the most enjoyable aspect of your course so far?

I’ve enjoyed having the time to focus on research, develop ideas and bring these to my practice. We’re encouraged to follow our own interests and I’ve enjoyed bringing my love of walking and being in the natural landscape to my work.

I’ve also enjoyed the sense of community on the MA course. We work alongside students from different disciplines which is really valuable as it offers a different perspective and can lead to exciting collaborations.

What do you think of the campus and facilities at NUA?

The buildings are full of character and history. I love popping back and forth between the buildings on campus as there is always someone to bump into and say hello to.

We’re really lucky to have a studio space, shared with BA (Hons) Textile Design final year students.

It’s a lively space buzzing with creativity and inspiration and a great place to work and meet with peers. Our tutors and workshop technicians are fantastic. Not only are they extremely knowledgeable and supportive, but they really encourage us to push ourselves.

“The MA has given me the time and opportunity to define and develop my research and practice. I feel I know where I’m going now. “

Do you think your course is helping to prepare you for life after MA?

The MA has given me the time and opportunity to define and develop my research and practice. I feel I know where I’m going now. 

Throughout the course we’ve been encouraged to think beyond the MA and apply for different opportunities. I’m really happy to be one of the artists working with the Broads Authority on an initiative called ‘Woven Waters’ exhibiting at Norwich Cathedral in December 2019. 

I was also really pleased to have one of my woven pieces selected for the Atkinson Gallery Postgraduate Exhibition in Somerset earlier this year. The MA has given me the confidence to apply for these opportunities.

I’ve also been the Graduate Academic Assistant for the BA (Hons) Textile Design course this year. I have loved the opportunity to work with and inspire students and hope to build on this in the future.

What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about studying a Masters?

Do your research! Make sure you visit the open days as it’s a great opportunity to see and get a feel for a place.  You’ll also be able to talk to students and tutors. Try and see the MA Degree Shows so that you can see the different approaches different courses take.

Once on an MA course make the most of every opportunity. I try to push myself to say yes even when it’s things that really take me out of my comfort zone like a live radio interview. Things are never as scary as you think they are going to be!

Keep up with Lizzie’s practice on her Instagram.

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