Life at Chelsea: Lottie Percival – BA Textile Design:
In the lead up to the 2018 Undergraduate Summer Show, we interview graduating students about their life at Chelsea and how their learning experience has shaped their practice. Originally from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, Charlotte (Lottie) Percival’s project for the degree show follows the concept of treating dementia by providing a person with stimulating, touch-worthy textile objects in a sensory space.
In Chelsea’s state of the art 3D workshops, Lottie has explored materials such as wood, wax, ceramics and screen printed wool surfaces as comforts to hold, squeeze and touch. She is interested in showing a nostalgic-feeling space that an audience can interact with, exhibited with objects that are oddly unfamiliar yet stimulating in reminding a person with dementia of their long-term memory.
Describe your time at Chelsea in 3 words
Inventive, loopy, unconventional
Please tell us how your work has developed during your time at UAL
I have always worked as a mixed media printer and maker of objects. My time at Chelsea, as well as my Erasmus exchange at the University of Boras in Sweden, has provided me with a confident amount of technical textile knowledge to play with and turn into my untraditional and outlandish textile mediums.
I have also communicated my concepts through my quirky character illustrations across each year. In exploring out of the ordinary textile materials such as wood, ceramics and wax, alongside the freedom of experimental screen printing, I have been able to invent textiles in multiple dimensions that can stimulate sensitive emotion in people. The more knowledge I have gathered in techniques of drawing, screen printing, casting and hand building, the more intrigued I have become in inventing shapes and surfaces that people feel the need to touch. I have come to realise the interest I have in making objects that you want to pick up, feel the weight of, squeeze or stroke.
What are you working on for the degree show?
My project for the degree show follows the concept of treating dementia by providing a person with stimulating, touch-worthy textile objects in a sensory space. I have explored materials such as wood, wax, ceramics and screen printed wool surfaces as comforts to hold, squeeze and touch. I am interested in showing a nostalgic-feeling space that an audience can interact with, exhibited with objects that are oddly unfamiliar yet stimulating in reminding a person with dementia of their long-term memory.
As well as also raising awareness of an illness that is in need of finding further treatment and a cure for, I want the feelings, aromas, weights, shapes and colours of these objects; large and small, to give them a secure feeling of wellbeing. For example, a therapeutic, spongey, old fashioned, ‘soapy aftershave’ scented object that sits securely in the palm of your hand.
What have your influences / inspiration been for your work for the degree show?
Throughout my projects at Chelsea, a concept I have continuously warmed to, like most people do, is nostalgia. My work at the moment follows textiles invented by myself that therapeutically treat a person with dementia. I was inspired by a lady I know named Margaret, otherwise known as ‘Marg.’ I have spent time with Marg, learning her past personal memories of home comforts that remain fragmented in her long term memory today, as she continues to live with dementia herself.
Spending time with her influenced me to question what we get or feel from the act of remembering or having our memory triggered by a smell or texture. What if I could turn this feeling into a type of textile treatment? A therapy or medicine that was simply provided by handling a tactile object.
As the project has developed over time, I have been constantly inspired by the possibility that I could create textiles that could help the wellbeing of a person and their family around them. Especially with an illness like dementia that seems to touch all of a society in some way.
In what ways has the studio / workshop environment informed your practice during your time at Chelsea?
Being in a busy and animated print studio environment at Chelsea, that is full of people using contrasting materials, felt as though we each influenced each other to broaden what a textile could be, that it can be fibre but so much more. In venturing into 3D workshops of wood, casting and ceramics, I was inspired by new ways of inventing objects that could be handled or played with, building, squeezing, carving and extracting forms that could become three dimensional things.
Tell us about any external projects have you worked on during your time at Chelsea?
During my third and final year at Chelsea I was short listed with fellow students in the I Love Linen campaign competition with The European Confederation of Linen and Hemp (CELC), in which we were challenged to discover unique ways the flax fibre of linen could be used in textiles, and in turn encouraging the love of linen.
In this project I initiated my interest in providing wellbeing in textiles that was to be handled by demonstrating flax fibre and seed which acts as a kind method of exfoliating the skin in therapeutic wax, soap and brush forms.
As shortlisted designers we exhibited our linen projects at Chelsea during this year’s Fashion Revolution Week and on-screen at Premiere Vision 2018 in Paris. This concept of wellbeing for the skin from a natural fibre has definitely informed my project on dementia, introducing me to textiles with a helpful and therapeutic function.
What has been your biggest influence during your time at Chelsea?
I think my biggest influence taken from my time at Chelsea has been spending time experimentally making in 3D and textile workshops with Chelsea technicians. They unveiled to me new and professional techniques of making, therefore letting me play with and manipulate processes into my own creations that have functional qualities.
What are your ambitions following graduation?
I hope to continue broadening my practice in workshops that are screen printed textiles or ceramic orientated. I feel confident that I will continue to make objects and textiles that can make people feel better, exploring all types of wellbeing and ways in which design can comfort and stimulate how people feel.
What makes your proud to be a Chelsea student?
Being part of a year group at Chelsea that was so inventive and outlandish in different materials they used makes me proud to be a Chelsea student. Coming into the textile studios was mostly a feeling of coming into a space of intriguing creations that all had their own very personal or social concepts behind them. This proudly makes me feel part of a collective of makers that very clearly care for personal and social issues happening around them.
What would you say to anyone thinking of doing your course? Any advice for new students?
I would advise a future Chelsea student to fully explore each and every workshop across years one to three. Even if they are not directly textiles, I think that it is important to try other mediums such as ceramics, casting, wood and metal. Not only do you meet students from other disciplines across the college, but you also open up further possibilities of making that you have practiced as you go into your final year. Most importantly, I would also say to spend time in the studios working with fellow printers, knitters, weavers and stitchers! Talk to each other in the studios about your work!
Find out more about BA Textile Design at Chelsea
Explore the BA Textile Design Instagram
See more work on Lottie Percival’s website
Explore work by more students at ChelseaDegreeShow.com