Student Profile – Textile Design, Jemma-Lee ONeill

 Graduate textile designer reveals how pattern and colour in architecture influenced her graduate collection…

There was such a vast amount of great work on show at this year’s Textiles, Fashion and Accessories exhibition at New Designers,  it was difficult to stop myself wandering away from the AVA book stand! In the midst of a room full of beautiful textiles, ceramics and jewellery, I was immeditately drawn to the vivid colours and bold graphics in Jemma-Lee ONeill’s woven fabrics.

Jemma-Lee graduated this year with a degree in Fashion and Textiles from The Glasgow School of Art, specialising in woven textiles.  She talks to AVA about her graduate collection, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, including what inspires and influences her work…
AVA: Where did you study?
Glasgow School of Art.

AVA: What would you say was the most interesting or enjoyable part of the course you studied?
The most interesting part of the textile course at GSA was learning to weave on Dobby and Jacquard looms and spending time sampling fabrics in the weave studio.

Barcelona research work (left) and fabric in production (right).

AVA: What was your most interesting or memorable experience during your course?
My most memorable experience of the textile course was weaving and designing a three piece collecting of the Glasgow School Of Art fashion show.  The fashion show was designed, produced and managed by myself and fellow students.

AVA: What inspires your work?
My design inspiration is taken from colour theory and architectural structure.

AVA: Who is the biggest influence on your work and why?
My work is inspired by fashion, interiors and contemporary artists. Mark Rothko was the biggest influence on my colour work, his block colour prints inspired me to gather and simplify areas of colour.

AVA: Which piece out of all of your work best represents your overall collection and why?
My overall collection is based on the contrasting use of glass in two cities, Barcelona and Glasgow.  My Glasgow collection is black and white and expresses structure where as my Barcelona collection is inspired solely by colour.  In order to best represent my collection a piece from both cities would have to be selected.  The Glasgow piece would be a double cloth black and white block repeat pattern as this represents the whole theme for Glasgow, structure and pattern with no colour.  Form the Barcelona collection my gold black and green block colour sateen fabric best represents my theme.  The use of metallic thread in conjunction with rayon reflects that of the windows in La Sagrada Famillia where my colour pallet was inspired.

Glasgow collection (left) and Barcelona collection (right).
Glasgow Collection fabrics as fashion garments


AVA: Have you worked with any clients or on any previous projects? If so which clients and what kind of project?
I have worked on a number of live project briefs including Bridge of Weir Leather Company.  The brief involved using scraps of left over leather to produce a new product.  I cut the leather into strips and painted up new colours then used the strips as my weft along with the use of thread. I envisioned the fabric to be used on women’s handbags.

AVA: What kind of materials do you use in your work and why?
I have used a range of materials in my collection.  In my Barcelona collection the yarn is a mix of rayon, un-spun rayon floss, embroidery, thread and metallic yarn.  My Glasgow yarn is much heavier and consists of cottons, mohair, chenille and synthetic yarns.  I used contrasting weights of yarns in my collections as I envisioned the fabrics for different uses.  The Glasgow collection is aimed for outerwear Woman’s fashion and the Barcelona collection a more luxurious fabric for women’s wear.

AVA: If you could describe your design style in five words what would they be?
Textured, Colourful, Bold, Bright and Structured.

AVA: What kind of advice would you offer to someone interested in design?
Photograph anything that you find interesting.  I document everything that inspires me and all my initial research starts with photographs.

Glasgow collection fabric in production (left) and research work (right).

AVA: What are you currently working on now you have graduated?
I am currently involved in a community arts placement.  I am working in Glasgow hospitals helping patients stimulate their mind with all aspects of art.

What are your hopes for your future career?
I hope to own my own weave studio and freelance design for fashion and interior companies.

See Jemma-Lee’s blog and Arts Thread page for more details and images!

You can also see the range of architecture, fashion and textile design books published by AVA on our website.