Lydia Wooldridge

Textile Design

What will be the future of textile design?

I think textile design is at a really,interesting stage. We are focusing much more on sustainable fabrics and how we can re-use the same materials over and over again.

What was your biggest challenge during your career?

That’s a difficult question but what I would say one of the biggest challenges is knowing your position in what ever field that your interested in and how to find work after graduating and how to make yourself as attractive to potential investors or job opportunities as possible.

How do you accept feedback from clients?

So it was an interview with nine academics for the funding and I had general feedback so it was comments that they had made and that was sent by email. And then I discussed those comments with my two supervisors who wanted to support the project. So I got other people’s opinions on that feedback which I think is really important because sometimes you can read it in a way which makes it incredibly negative but actually there is a lot of positives there but you just need a fresh perspective. Someone who is not as emotionally involved.

Can you describe to me your creative process?

The phd is predominately theoretical so I am doing analysis on different artists working within the field. So a lot of it is visiting exhibitions initially. Looking online at all the exhibitions going on in Germany and the Middle East, following all of the artists on Instagram seeing where all their work is being exhibited. What reaction they are getting to their work and then doing lots and lots of reading. But reading that’s not necessarily that focused so really board reading so I might read something from history of art readers, I might read something really close to weaving or textiles. I then might look at something about digital technology and then see if any of this reading could be
relevant to my analysis.

Looking at your website and saw you did magnetic drawing as well. What does this involve and what is your process?

That was a process that I’d developed as a undergraduate student. So it was all about looking at pattern and how you can create pattern with magnets. But obviously when you take the magnets away you need the pattern to stay there so that was a system of using adhesives. Silicone in particularly and then suspending of the filings with in this adhesive and the you let it cure an then you can remove the magnets. So that’s become much more of a hobby now but my main work is focused on the PHD.

Who are the main people who inspire you?

Loads of people, I think a lot of my teachers early on were probably the most inspirational. I did foundation so many years ago now but some of the creatives and the people working on foundation really opened my eyes to a different way of working that was very different from school. How to look at things differently. I did then spend some time studying in Germany and I got to know a really, really diverse mix of people and just conversations I’ve had with them. I wouldn’t say one particular designer such as ‘Alexander McQueen’ has been the pivotal inspiration but its more human interactions on a personal level.

Can you tell us more about your trans-cultural design meeting?

My background is very much involved with textile design but I have always been interested in languages and I spent a year studying and learning in Germany and there I was working along side a lot of Turkish students because they have really close links between Germany and Turkey in terms of exchange and also some girls from Jordan.

I was living with four Jordanian friends and just this interaction that occurs between Turkish communities within Germany and then you know what we perceive as German nationals. It makes the culture so rich and so diverse and its really explored quite a lot in literature.

Gradually it’s becoming more visible in the visual arts and in particularly fine art. Eventually I came back to the UK to do my masters, I focused on this avenue looking at trans culture. What happens when multiple cultures interact an then I thought gosh we can explain some of these really complex approaches using textile analogies and that’s where last of the reading in terms of weaving and stitching have come into it. And they help my analyse these different artwork.

What is your advice to young graduates and creatives?

Yes, so in the PhD because it’s called two PhDs called materializing migration, Chinese cultural, textile, in Germany, but it’s separated into sections, two sections around process. So, weaving and stitching and printing, and then I’ve got two separate chapters, one looking predominantly at clothes on or textile on the body and, and they do have a lot of culturally specific elements. So whether or not that’s embroidery or text, or just use of color and looked at an artist from Iran, and she’s used our show banners and

So she’s taking things which are very, very site specific and put them within a German context.
It’s really difficult because when I was just starting out, I used to really, really worry about not getting work. I used to stress me out now and, and, and it’s me as I’ve got a little bit older, I’ve realized actually, if you work hard and you’re going and you talk to people and you make an effort, something will always happen. It might not necessarily be what you set out to be yeah but something will happen and just have a bit of faith that’s what that’s why strokes, confidence and not to stress too much about finding that specific job.

Interview conducted by Debbie Chan, Farinaz Pourebtehaj


Lydia Wooldridge is a PhD candidate under the AHRC’s SWW-DTP. Her interdisciplinary research project, Materialising Migration: Transcultural Textiles in Germany, offers new insights into transcultural encounter and visual culture (textile focus).
Lydia studied Multi-Media Textile Design at Loughborough University, graduating with a BA Hons (1st) in 2013. Whilst completing her undergraduate degree she spent a year studying and working in Germany under the ERASMUS scheme. She studied Modern Languages (Visual Culture) at the University of Bristol, earning an MA (Distinction).
Lydia teaches across a range of HE courses at Bristol School of Art. She works with students on core modules and collaborative projects examining critical questions in art and design.