From education to employment

Wonderwool Wales bursaries provide launchpad for two textiles graduates

Kay-lee Davies and Jade Carey Holt display their work as they receive their bursaries from Wonderwool Wales directors Chrissie Menzies, Olwen Veevers and Sarah Stacey, watched by BA Textiles programme director at Carmarthen School of Art, Nia Lewis.

Two Carmarthen School of Art graduates have each received a £1,000 boost to launch their future careers using the skills they have learnt.

Jade Carey Holt, 22, from Aberystwyth and Kay-lee Davies, 34, from Capel Dewi, near Llandysul, are this year’s winners of annual bursaries awarded by Wonderwool Wales to graduates from the BA Textiles course at Carmarthen School of Art, part of Coleg Sir Gậr.

Held at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells every April, Wonderwool Wales is the premier wool and natural fibres show in Wales. The event brings together people and businesses with a passion for Welsh wool and its versatility as a material for creative crafts, designer clothes, home furnishings and more.

Jade, who completed a multi-disciplined BA Textiles course, plans to use the bursary to buy a loom to set up her own business in Swansea.

She wants to spend some time experimenting and collaborating with the creative community in Swansea, but sees herself designing and making bespoke woven products, including wall hangings, clothing and accessories in the future.

“When I joined the course, I immediately fell in love with weaving,” said Jade. “I take a lot of inspiration from colours, shapes and Celtic influences.

“I am really happy to win the Wonderwool Wales bursary. Out of all the bursaries available, it was the one that I wanted the most because it’s an amazing opportunity to exhibit my work next year and to buy a loom.”

Kay-lee completed her BA Textiles course as a part-time student over six years, with funding support from the Welsh Government. She has secured residencies at Carmarthen School of Art next year and Newtown Textile Museum this summer.

She joined the course after initially doing one year of a graphic design degree at Cardiff University and then working as a restaurant manager. Using her skills to make textiles for interior design, she hopes to have her own studio and become a recognised textile designer in the future.

The stars aligned to guide Kay-lee to Carmarthen School of Art, beginning with a last minute opportunity to join a coach trip to Wonderwool Wales in 2017. A friend then told her about the course and the rest is now history.

“I had the best time at Wonderwool Wales,” explained Kay-lee, who currently works as a freelance knitter. “It was just so exciting and remember thinking to myself this is where I want to be.

“I had been teaching myself hand knitting and crochet, and the show opened my eyes to weaving and how much more there was to do with textiles. It was inspirational to see people doing textiles to such a high level.

“I had some of my work on display at Wonderwool Wales last year which was a big moment for me. Winning the bursary is amazing and feels like a full circle moment.

“My work is inspired by graphic design and typography linked to composition. I like to work with collages to find the balance between colours, shapes, forms and pattern.”

Nia Lewis, BA Textiles programme director at Carmarthen School of Art, thanked Wonderwool Wales for offering the bursaries to launch the post-graduate careers of Jade and Kay-lee. “It really gives them something to aim for creatively and is a great springboard for the next stage in their careers,” she added.

Wonderwool Wales directors Chrissie Menzies, Olwen Veevers and Sarah Stacey awarded the bursaries after viewing the work of graduates and interviewing them.

Chrissie said she and her colleagues were impressed by the clean lines of Kay-lee’s work and how she incorporates her graphic design skills. The judges were attracted to Jade’s colourful work and her plans for the future.

“It was lovely to hear that Kay-lee had been inspired by Wonderwool Wales and that we had been instrumental in her choice of career,” she added. “It was also pleasing to hear that our bursary was the one Jade wanted the most.

“It’s so nice for Wonderwool Wales to be able to put something back and help these graduates to buy the equipment and materials they need when they leave college.”

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