Jeni Allison, 22. Glasgow School of Art, Textile BA (Hons.) Graduate 2010.
-specialism: Knitwear Textiles.
I studied Art and Design Foundation at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh before heading onto Glasgow School of Art. On my foundation I developed a love of textiles and in particular structure, and that was therefore the course I applied for at Glasgow.
I am especially interested in performance, and undertook a period of work experience designing for Scottish Ballet, making both set and costume designs and toiles. The idea of using knit as a costume for ballet was definitely something I wanted to explore, and really helped me to push the boundaries of what I could use knit for.
What was the most valuable you learned before starting at your education?
To take risks and make sure you end up doing exactly what you want to do. The first time I applied to Art School I didn’t get in, however the next year I did, my work just wasn’t mature enough the year before!
Fashion Show Project 2010
This year the Glasgow School of Art Fashion Show coincided with the centenary of the famous Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art, and as such we used the archives as inspiration. I was especially interested in a short film made in the 1930s called “7 till 5” by Norman McLaren. He is known for his early experiments with animation and this film documents a full day in the Art School. This got me thinking about how art students today react to the Mackintosh building, and how we all dress up, “playing the part” of art students. I therefore set out to make ridiculous ‘studio wear’ for artists working in the Mackintosh building today.
Where do you get inspiration from in general?
Usually I am inspired by fine artists and humour.
How is your process when you design?
I tend to be quite chaotic, generating a lot of ideas, then simplifying. I like to keep things fluid, and flexible until the last minute as you never know when you’ll hit on a brilliant idea or technique.
What do you find most difficult about the design process?
Putting the first mark on the paper…once I get started I find things a lot easier.
What are your strenghts?
My main strength is colour.
What are your weaknesses?
The fiddly bits at the end.
Describe your collection with three words?
Soft. Amusing. Youthful.
What techniques did you use:
I used domestic knitting machines to make ‘cut and sew’ garments. The specific techniques used were plaiting (with elastic as the underside yarn), hooking up while on the hold button and intarsia.
Which machines did you use to create your collection?
Domestic knitting machine, overlocker and linker.
Which technique was the most difficult?
I found intarsia to be the most time consuming as I’d never used it on such a big scale before.
Do you have a technical or conceptual approach to designing?
Which garment was most difficult to make?
The oversized jumper dress with attached scarf.
Which garment took the longest to make?
Again the jumper dress.
Which garment is your favorite?
The knitted leggings, I keep imagining someone like Willy Wonka wanting to wear them! I’m also a big fan of the pom-pom fascinators.
What technique is your favorite?
Intarsia, although I also loved the little hook ups on the leggings.
How long did you work on this project?
We had eight weeks, however I was on my Scottish Ballet Placement for three of these.
What made you pursue Knitwear?
I choose Knit because I think structurally, and wanted to push myself to see what I could come up with.
What designers inspire you?
Louise Goldin has been very inspirational in terms of how knitwear can be used in an extremely new and innovative way. I was always fascinated by recent graduate collections, for example Hannah Taylor and Kevin Kramp.
Which designer would you like to work for in the future?
I would like to work for someone who shares my design process, so it’s more of collaboration than working for someone.
What advice would you give new students?
Fight for doing the projects you believe in.
Which fellow students would you like to highlight?
Phoebe Brown’s knitwear is beautiful.
What was your childhood dream job?
What are your plans for the future?
Work hard, and hopefully end up happy.