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Gemma Wilcox

As a textile artist, I respond to the people around me. Within my creative practice I find the most exciting thing about designing and creating is the processes and techniques you learn be that not dissimilar to learning about people around us. I have always enjoyed working with print and embroidery and whilst researching what my Final major project would be I knew quite early on that both those artistic processes would play an integral part.
The inspiration behind my final major project was Erin, my niece. Erin has a rare disorder called Smith Magenis Syndrome this affects a person’s physical, behavioural, and developmental abilities and this means Erin has some quite specific emotional and physical needs.

I wanted to design and create textile pieces Erin could engage with but to also allow her to play with, to be curious about and importantly to take comfort from. Erin’s disorder offers her the ability to see and navigate the world in her own way, a unique way, and with that comes how differently she processes the world around her. Erin’s sensory needs are deeply engrained in the pieces that I’ve created, and have influenced the shape, colour, feel and size. I’ve used print, appliqué, and machine embroidery to create textiles that can, with the shape offer Erin the chance to wrap herself to help her to calm or to touch the raised areas of a textile pieces to help with her tactile curiosity.

A massive part of Erin’s condition is a big bold personality, often an endearing sense of humour and the ability to not be forgotten once met, it was very important to me that not only were Erin’s sensory needs met but I captured her personality too, the bright colours are her favoured palette, the patterns chosen, are inspired by a lot of scribbles and random pattern and mark making, this enabled me to capture a sense of Erins personality and creative ability. Erin my wonderful, brave strong niece who will pave her own path and will hopefully continue to “colour outside the line’s” and forever be the unique person she is. I hope to continue to evolve my creative practice, and working on this project it has sparked an interest in working to help inclusivity of disabilities within the Arts and this is something that I plan to continue with.