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Jessica McGowan – from Ulster to Turkey via an SDC award

As an educational charity, SDC supports students in a variety of ways. In Northern Ireland, every year we award a prize to the students who show the best use of colour in their final year presentations. This year Paul Santokhi (Chair of the NI region) had the pleasure of presenting the award of £100 to student Jessica McGowan. Paul was very impressed with Jessica’s work.

Jessica was on the BA (Hons) Textile Art, Design and Fashion Course at the University of Ulster and graduated with a 2:1.The judges for the SDC award selected the winner from 62 final year students. We spoke to Jessica about her work and what she’s been up to since graduating.

Paul Santokhi, chair of SDC's Northern Ireland region, with Jessica McGowan

Paul Santokhi, chair of SDC’s Northern Ireland region, with Jessica McGowan

Jessica commented: “my work is titled Patterned Memory. Textile processes, pattern and print are the foundation of my work. Inspired by 1950s mid-modern design I have developed patterns and contemporary colours to tell my memories both positive and negative. Each piece describes my family and how over time there is a gradual change from a harmonious environment to a more chaotic one. As you move across the pieces you can see the gradual change of colour and pattern with colours symbolising the mood of that time. This gives clues to the content and interpretation of my work as I use curved shapes deliberately to show the happiness in our family, and to then change into sharp triangle shapes giving you a sense of negative change as someone within the family has caused the harmony to disappear. As the chaotic pattern subsides, more patterns form inspired by DNA which symbolises that it is in their blood to become chaotic due to their own negative memories of their childhood. As you move on to the final piece this symbolises new bodies coming into my life inspired by Islamic geometric design as I begin a new journey having pastel colours (faded memories) to form into bold colours, moving on from the past. I have a tumblr account which explains my work from the start, so do take a look“.

Since graduating, Jessica has become a member of SDC and has moved to Turkey to pursue a career in the textile industry. She explained: “At the moment in Turkey I’m job searching specificallySAM_0999 surface pattern design whether it be for interior or fashion. It’s a totally different culture here, the way you are treated everyone is so welcoming which makes me want to work harder and design more, to live here long term. And of course the textile industry is at the heart of Istanbul so hopefully I can work here for a high market fashion brand. I’m also learning Turkish, I know a little but in most jobs they want you to know both English and Turkish, so I need to pick it up a gear so I can get a job around January time. But I’m glad I’ve moved here the opportunities are double compared to the UK.

With regard to winning the SDC Award, I was absolutely delighted when I found out from my Tutor. I didn’t believe it at first and to get this type of recognition from a well known organisation such as the SDC was even more amazing. It really gave me a confidence boost that my work won out of the selected final year students”.

DSC_0379We wish Jessica continued success. If you’re interested in finding out how membership of SDC can support you, please drop us an email.  You might also like to check out our student bursaries, and take a look at our student competitions.

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