Introduction by Evan Soule, interview by Jess Coulson.
This week Islington Mill are taking over MUKA and showcasing some of the mill's best and newest residents. Jess Coulson approached these residents with a selection of questions and today we have an introduction to Jessie Stringer-Fewtrill.
Can you tell us about yourself and your work? I am an artist, designer and creative practitioner specialising in textiles. My work aims to highlight social, global and cultural issues by challenging mainstream mindsets and making an impact. With craft, fashion design and dress making I deliver public and community workshops across the North. I am a qualified seamstress with extensive skills in pattern cutting, garment design and construction. I also undertake a wide variety of commissions including creating collections and exhibition pieces. With my own fashion projects- Kala clothing and Jessie-May lingerie- I design and make mini concept collections with socially conscious messages. Working in ethical ways and making a positive change is at the heart of these projects.
You hosted Islington Mill's last exhibition before lockdown, what can you tell us about that event? It was a co-curated exhibition in February 2020 with myself and ‘The Boaz trust’ clients which showcased work we had produced within a 5 week programme of textile workshops. The Boaz trust is a charity which works to end destitution amongst asylum seekers and refugees. The exhibition showcased the full fashion collection which was made from scratch by the Boaz clients within the workshops. In the workshops we covered fashion design, print development, screen printing, embroidery and garment construction with use of the sewing machine. The 5 workshops were held at our ‘Salford makers’ studio at Islington mill and were curated by myself with screen printing by Salford makers founder, Sally Gilford. The exhibition launch was open to the public and all garments and prints were up for sale, with the money going back into the charity. Along with a gallery of pictures exhibited at the event, people could meet the makers and have a chance to get a good insight into the making of the collection. There were also pop-up shops and workshops ran by the makers, giving further opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity. A highlight of the launch event was the fashion show where the makers got to model their own creations and walk and dance down the catwalk.
What is your studio space like? I am on the ground floor of Islington mill in a shared studio space with myself and fellow ‘Salford makers’. Salford makers is a multi-disciplinary art collective, specialising in textiles and jewelry making, we work collaboratively and independently on small and large scale projects. we each have our own unit with big shared areas. What do you enjoy the most about working from Islington Mill? I love the diverse creative network and how supportive we all are of each other; it's like a big family. I love that it is a professional creative art space with so much opportunity to grow. I have grown so much, both personally and professionally, since joining the mill just over 2 years ago. There is always information (such as available funding and creative work) being passed around by the mill staff which I find really useful as that kind of stuff can be hard to find independently. In both a practical and holistic way, I feel supported by the staff and fellow artists. What are you working on right now? My day-to-day jobs are working on sewing commissions which can be from homewear to bespoke dressmaking to small runs of stock for brands and independent artists. For my personal projects I am currently developing the next Jessie-May lingerie collection called “Summer of love”: launching this summer! Over Zoom I am currently running textile workshops for different community groups but am planning bigger community interest projects for when COVID restrictions ease, much like the Boaz workshops/ exhibition but on a bigger scale. I am also planning an ethical fashion campaign for “Fashion Revolution week” , April 19th-25th.
Have there been any positive sides to lockdown for you that you would like to share?
Although I have lost a fair amount of work, I actually feel like I have made so much positive development as an artist. I started up ‘Jessie-May lingerie’ again, distinguished a better creative direction for ‘Kala clothing’, was able to have creative breathing space and had time to apply for funding. My sewing commissions took a new direction too which was interesting. When it's safe and legal to have events and exhibitions, what do you want to see? I’d like to see more events at the mill, bringing the creative community closer and inviting others to be a part of it. I’d like to see combined arts events which bring the visual arts and performing arts together. I’d also like to see more community focused events.
What other Greater Manchester based fashion labels or brands would you recommend we check out? “Keep it bright” “Meme gold” “Wild emerald designs” “Akhu designs” “Bukki Baldwin” “Figurments”
Check out all of the different things that Jessie does on their websites!