A little late to the party for Joanne Hawkers meet the maker... That's a story for another time... The first prompt is story and this is a LONG one, so I have decided to give a potted history on my blog, but in parts so that you don’t completely give up on reading it. The first part of my story is from 1987 (the year I was born) through to the year I graduated 2009.

II always thought it was normal to NEED to make things, to have ideas in your head that you just had to follow through on! I now know not only know that isn't true, but have learnt that it is something to be embraced (that's the short version)...

I remember stitching in to anything if could find as a kid... Including paper, undoing and redoing stitching that I had been taught at school, if I could draw on it, stitch on it, make something from it, I would so… 

When it came to picking GCSE options Textiles and Art were no brainers to me, but not what my academically focused school wanted me to do... I persevered and went on to do an A-Level in Textiles (I was told categorically not to pursue 2 creative subjects and I tend to do as I am told), so I went from A-Levels to a foundation in Art and Design for a year and really enjoyed so many parts of this 'experimental' year, I had aspirations of being a fashion designer when I started... But by the time I finished I was SO bored of the restrictions that this entailed... Luckily I had an amazing Textiles tutor who could see this coming a mile off and had insisted that I apply to Buckinghamshire Chilterns for Surface Design. Being the independent 17 year old I was, I thought it was too close to home and wasn't fashion... So why would I... But as I said before, I do as I am told so… Fast forward three months to interviews and I was offered both a place on a fashion course and one at Bucks for Surface Design... I took the place for Surface Design and it opened up a whole world of experimentation and exploration in to using Textiles as an art form.

My course was all about experimenting with all things Textiles, we had three 'tracks' to choose from in our first year, knit, print and surface. We all shared a studio and we all at some point got to have a go with all the different techniques from each discipline. We also had additional classes in everything from crochet to embroidery, heat press to machine knit. It was a great basis for exploration and really instilled in me that if you have an idea you just have to find the right medium to execute it, not the other way round.

We also had the amazing opportunity to exhibit with the uni at Surtex NYC, a wonderful experience which I came full circle to repeat a mere 10 years later (more on that in Part 3).

Surtex 2008 (this isn’t me btw, the two sheep on the wall are mine though).

Surtex 2008 (this isn’t me btw, the two sheep on the wall are mine though).

By the time we graduated I was pretty adamant that I didn't want to go in to the commercial world and undo all of the creative exploration that I had worked through as a part of my degree. I always knew that I didn't go in to Textiles Art for the money, so why would I water down my ideas in a ‘dog eat dog’ industry just to have a ‘career’ in something that I wanted to continue to explore, not because of its commercial potential, but because I NEED to make things and I wanted to see where it took me. It was a bold move and pretty arrogant now I look back on it... But I am still grateful for my choices.

Well that is the end of part on, next time for MY STORY PART 2

  • The ultimate research trip

  • Finding a place in the working world

and more. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Keep an eye on the blog and social media for more #MarchMeetTheMaker fun.

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