Student recognised for interior designs inspired by Aberdonian soldier’s life

A student from Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art has achieved top place in a national competition for his textile designs, based on the memoirs of a Victorian soldier from Aberdeen.

Matt Russell TextilesMatt Russell (21) from Garthdee has been recognised in the prestigious Bradford Textiles Society Design Competition. The third-year Textiles and Surface Design student received the Clothworkers’ Foundation Award for his innovative combination of textiles processes for the interiors market.

Established in 1893, the Bradford Textile Society is the oldest textile society in Britain and has presented special prizes for design achievement for over 80 years. The popular annual competition aims to encourage and inspire students to stimulate new developments in textile design and techniques, and this year attracted over 920 entries from students across the UK.

Using maps, memoirs and photographs belonging to an Aberdeen military sergeant named James Hutchison from the 1860s as his inspiration; Matt produced a collection of textile designs aimed at the luxury interiors market by applying innovative techniques in a traditional style.

He explains:

“I discovered the artefacts of this soldier from Old Aberdeen hidden away in an antique book store in Aberdeen and was inspired by the first-person narrative of his experiences. They gave me a real feel and insight into the type of person he was. The letters and handwriting captured the history and memories of this man’s life and I knew I could incorporate excerpts from these materials into my designs.

“For my competition entry, I designed a range of printed fabrics which can be applied in soft furnishings for the home. To create my designs, I laser cut leather and combined this with screen-printed gold binder to make a layered fabric which captured the history within the text and translated this onto fabric. My work reflects the delicate, antiquated nature of the paper and the flowing script style in which he wrote.”

Matt, who previously won the Weavers Guild Award and took part in a study programme to China in 2011, runs his own online blog entitled ‘ARTnTHAT’ which has seen over 20,000 hits since it’s launch and has led to him being scouted as a regular blogger for STV. The talented young designer also recently completed an internship Paris and London Fashion Week working with creative events company ‘Doll’ on their On|Off flagship event which showcases ‘designs over hype’ and has discovered and nurtured rising talent including designers Louise Gray, Peter Pilotto and Gareth Pugh.

Based in London and Paris, Matt assisted major brand designers including Zandra Rhodes during Fashion Week, organising events and creating an art installation throughout the venue and onto the catwalk. Matt also worked front of house helped buyers, press and celebrities including George Lamb and Alexandra Burke, to look through the designers collection, and backstage with the models assisting with hair, make-up and dressing.

He continues:

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been recognised for my work and can’t imagine the sergeant would have ever thought that 200 years later his innermost thoughts would be preserved in fabric and shared with a new audience.

“My work to date has mostly focused on fashion collections but I feel that winning this accolade has really encouraged me to expand into interior designs.”

Matt was presented with his prize of £400 at an awards ceremony in Bradford on 2 May and also took part in the Society’s textiles conference which included talks from interior designers, trend prediction seminars and a tour of the textiles archives and museums.

Fellow classmate Carolyn Murdoch from Bieldside also received a commendation in the British Wool Section of the competition for her work.


Notes to Editors:

Issued by:
Sarah Grieve
Communications Officer
Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206