Interview with Local Textile Designer Melanie Kay!

Hi Melanie, we’re delighted to continue our interview series with you. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and explain how you fit into the creative world?

Hello and thanks for inviting me to take part in the interview series. My name is Melanie Kay (I’m not related to Peter or Vernon) and I graduated last year from the University of Bolton with a First Class Honours Degree in Textiles/Surface Design. I started a part-time Masters Degree in Textiles in September at Manchester Metropolitan University. The creative work I am doing for my MA is very much research based and reflects social issues. Alongside this I am hoping to establish myself as a designer maker and will be selling craft based products at various events. An element of recycling remains within all areas of my practical work.

When did you first discover your passion for textile design and what influenced you to take this creative path?

My earliest memory of textiles is when my grandad bought me a magazine that had just been released called Embroidery Magic. He spent so many hours with me teaching me and bought me various bits of equipment. I fell in love with embroidery from the very beginning and would proudly make things for my family. When I got a little older my grandad bought me a second-hand sewing machine and although I no longer have it I still consider it my favourite present. When I left school I never considered Textiles as a career path, it never seemed possible. I ended up working in banking or offices for seven years before I went to University.

The University of Bolton has a large number of courses linked with the arts and media. How did you find your time at the University?

I never initially intended on applying for a degree due to financial restrictions until I was informed that you could study part-time on the BA (hons) Textiles/Surface Design course at the University of Bolton. This meant that I could work and study without any financial pressures. I loved my time at the University and felt confident and prepared for the real world when I left. The tutors work really hard to make sure you are aware of opportunities and push you to achieve your true potential.

What are your main methods of design and which materials do you prefer to work with? Where do you take your inspiration from?

I love to recycle and if I can sew it I would work with it. At the moment I have been working with beer cans. I collect the beer cans from the streets, clean them out, cut them open and use them like a fabric. I have been using non textile processes such as sanding, drilling and punching in conjunction with textile processes to create something unique. I am inspired by society and the media’s portrayal of such issues and I love for my work to be meaningful and contain narrative, positive as well as negative. My aim is to catch the eye of the observer with something aesthetically pleasing and draw them in before revealing the true happenings concealed within my work.

The North West has a fantastic arts scene and is home to thousands of creatives. How do you find working in Manchester and how would you compare the its creative community to that in Bolton?

Manchester is so close to Bolton I consider it the same community. I have started to recognise people’s faces in exhibitions in Manchester that I have previously met in Bolton. I think that generally the creative community are very supportive of one another and are more than willing to share knowledge wherever you are from.

What recognition have you gained over the years and have you attended many exhibitions? 

The University of Bolton encourage all of their third year design students to enter the Bradford Textile Design Competition which is great. I won First Prize in the Textile Created by Non-Conventional Means category as well as the Premier Vision Award. The University organised for some students to exhibit at New Designers in London in July where I was approached by the Embroiderers’ Guild. I was then selected to take part in the Graduate Showcase and exhibit at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in London, Dublin and Harrogate. I was there awarded Graduate of the Year by the Textile Study Group.

I visit exhibitions regularly. Most recently I have been to the Grayson Perry Exhibition at the British Museum and the Lost in Lace Exhibition in Birmingham. Both of which I would highly recommend. It is so important to see what is going on and what’s being done by others.

What do you hope to do after completing your masters? Is there a particular location you would love to work in?

I hope that the Masters will open more doors for me and help me to develop even further in the areas that I began to explore at the end of my degree. Ultimately I would love to work for myself. I don’t intend on moving from Manchester. I have a studio based here which I love and I have made a close network of friends and it is close to where I live so I am happy!

Have you caught the social networking bug? Where can our readers find you online?

I once considered myself a technophobe but I am now converted. I have a website and even a blog which needs updating. I am also now on twitter so please follow me @melanie_kay1.

Finally, a light question we ask all of our interviewees! What five objects could you not bear to be without and why?

Dremel 4000
Fiskars Sheers

Is that a bit sad?

Not at all Melanie, although the Marmite is a bit questionable! Thank you so much and best of luck with everything in the future.

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