Ashbourne’s Art Faculty offers students a unique opportunity to experience a wide range of art and design activities before going on to specialise in their chosen A level subject.
During the first term students explore drawing, life drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, photography, fabrics and textiles on a rotation basis. They will develop and broaden their technical skills and visual understanding throughout their first year enabling them to build up an impressive portfolio.
A level Textile students continue to work with a wide range of different materials and produce original, experimental work, whether printing on silk or knitting with bin bags. They are encouraged to look at textiles and fashions from different periods and cultures and interpret those designs using a repertoire of different techniques and processes.
Textiles students get to showcase their work in a fashion show as part of the annual Ashbourne Revue and at the Creative Arts Exhibition. The Art Faculty staff also offer expert guidance on preparing for a successful career in this field.
One of the highlights of belonging to Ashbourne’s Art Faculty is that students get the chance to visit culturally rich European cities like Paris, Barcelona and Vienna on a specially structured and expertly guided art trip over the Autumn half term. They also go on a variety of trips and events in London during the course.
Why study Textiles?
For anyone interested in fashion design, interior design, textile art, fashion journalism, styling, retailing, costume design for theatre and film, and fashion illustration then A level Textiles is an excellent choice.
In an ‘anything goes’ consumer market, with efforts to reduce manufacturing impacts on the environment and a global emphasis on recycling now is arguably one of the most exciting times to study textiles.
The current revolution in fabrics, fibres and technology has delivered a wealth of amazing materials to play with including supersensitive textiles that conduct electricity or that have smart surfaces imbedded, fabric dyes that change colour depending on the temperature, not to mention 3D printing. These innovations merge fashion with a wide range of other fields including healthcare, sport and architecture.
Which syllabus do we follow?
Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for A level Textiles.
What is the course about?
As a part of Ashbourne’s mini-foundation programme students join the Art and Design carousel during their first term to experience a variety of art activities in rotation: Drawing, Life Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Digital Art, Photography, Fabrics and Textiles. They begin to build up a dynamic portfolio, which constitutes 60% of the overall result. At the end of the first year students will complete an internal assessment and exam to ensure they attain a suitable standard to progress to A level for the second year.
During the second year Textile students learn a variety of textile techniques including monoprinting, relief printing, heat transfer printing, tie-dye, batik, silk painting, dyeing, stencilling, spraying, embellishing, stitching, felting, appliqué, patchwork, quilting, weaving and knitting, as well as basic sewing and pattern drafting skills.
Students will explore shape, colour, texture, pattern, harmony, scale, proportion, contrast and repetition as well as the relationship between form and function as basic design elements. They will also carry out research and examine different historical periods and cultures to help enrich and contextualise their own work.
Textile students are expected to participate in the annual Fashion Show, which opens and closes the Ashbourne Christmas Revue. Two teachers will oversee student participation and will help them design garments prior to the show in a series of Saturday classes held in the autumn term.
Who teaches this course?
BA (Hons) Textile Design (Chelsea College of Art and Design); CFA (Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University); BSc Fashion Design and Illustration (University of Cincinnati, USA)
Sheila Cosgrove worked in New York as a fashion illustrator before moving to London where she was an art and design journalist and portrait artist for twenty years prior to taking a degree in textile design. Her designs for fashion and furnishings have been sold in America, Britain and across Europe. Sheila frequently gives lectures to interior design students on Colour Theory and Application and has designed and executed a 12-week online course for interior designers for the Inchbald School of Design. Sheila has been working at Ashbourne since 1999.
Beyond A level Textiles
Textiles students have a wide choice of career pathways including fashion accessories designer, bespoke tailoring, theatre costume designer, pattern cutter, fabric technologist, fashioner editor, stylist, visual merchandiser and forecasting agent. As well as alternative options like university lecturer, art therapist and museum curator.
Many of our students go on to study at prestigious art colleges including the London College of Fashion, Central St Martins, Ravensbourne, University of the Creative Arts, Kingston, Chelsea and the Istituto Marangoni.
Suggested reading and resources
The Complete History of Costume and Fashion, Bronwyn Cosgrave
Illustrated guide to the history of clothing and fashion from Ancient Egypt to the present day.
Classic 1975 Vogue Sewing fully revised and updated with photos and illustrations covering everything stitchers need to know to make professional and fashionable garments.
Fashion & Textiles: The Essential Careers Guide, Carol Brown
Practical advice on breaking into the fashion industry.
You will find a wide range of art books at all the major galleries including the V&A, Fashion and Textile Museum, The National, The Portrait, Tate Britain and Modern and the Royal Academy.
Fashion magazine that sets the trend for the industry. First published in Britain in 1916 and now sold worldwide.
London Fashion Week
Fashion ‘gurus’ showcase their latest fabrics and designs to the world during London Fashion Week which is held twice a year in February and September. It runs alongside fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris.
Fashion and Textile Museum
The museum highlights the changing face of contemporary fashion and includes designs by Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Biba, Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood. It also runs hands-on workshops, lectures and events.
Holds one of the world’s largest collections of textiles and fashions spanning more than 5000 years and covering Europe, South, South East, East and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. It also runs talks, workshops and events. Located not far from the college in South Kensington.
What’s on and where
TimeOut’s guide to current and upcoming fashion events in the capital.