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In The Studio: Isabella MacKenzie – BA Textile Design

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Experimenting with previous handwoven fabrics to investigate how it moves when manipulated
Written by
Gavin Freeborn
Published date
07 June 2016

As part of our In The Studio series we speak to Isabella MacKenzie about her studio practice and time at Chelsea studying BA Textile Design. You can see Isabella’s work as part of the Undergraduate Summer Show at the private view from 18.00 – 21.00 on Friday 17 June.  The show will then run everyday until Saturday 25 June.

Initial research board for project including both primary and secondary research

Initial research board for project including both primary and secondary research

Describe you experience at Chelsea in 3 words.              

Enriching, mystifying and entertaining.

Please tell us about what you are working on for your final show.          

My current project entitled Hidden Depths is inspired by the opening passage of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, where through luscious description, nature overcomes man-made structures.

I used this idea and created two-faced woven fabrics where colour (individuality) is ‘fighting back’ against totalitarian rule of ‘white’ (conformity) which will be moulded into architectural shapes that conceal colour and texture through movement and sculpture.

Detail of one of my final sample using my hand drawn weave pattern

Detail of one of my final sample using my hand drawn weave pattern

What has been your greatest challenge so far in working towards the degree show?    

They are bigger than any fabric I have made before, so it was a challenge to get everything woven in time and ensure that the fabric was suitable for shaping.

What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?  

I have been accepted at the Royal College of Art to do an MA in Woven Textiles, starting September 2016. My career ambitions have yet to unfurl but I enjoy innovation and collaboration, which I want to explore further.

Detail of another final sample

Detail of another final sample

What have you enjoyed most about studying at Chelsea?          

The atmosphere at Chelsea is special, surrounded by beautiful buildings, fantastic friends and amazing tutors and technicians across the whole university.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing your course? 

Be open-minded, ready to push yourself in new ways and to try as many techniques, colours and concepts as possible while you have the time and freedom to explore everything.

To see more work follow Isabella’s Instagram

Find out more about studying BA Textile Design

Visit or follow this year’s summer shows