Ellie Byrne: Life as a London Textiles Student Part 1

Ellie Byrne
Photo by

Ellie Byrne is a 20 year old student who has recently finished her first year studying BA Textile Design at Central Saint Martins UAL. Ellie has lived on the Isle of Man her whole life up until last year when she moved to London.

Throughout her childhood, Ellie was always more interested in art based things like painting, knitting and sewing and it wasn’t until GCSE when she realised that she could actually take textiles as an option and gain a qualification for it. This really pushed Ellie to learn more of a technical side of textiles as she chose more of a fashion pathway during that time.

For A level, Ellie took Geography, Religious Studies and Textiles coming out with an A* in textiles. Those two years encouraged Ellie to work a lot more mixed media, incorporating different styles of art into Textile/Fashion, particularly through texture and colour.

We caught up with Ellie to gain more of an insight into what life is like as a Textile Student in London.

Knit ExperimentationKnit Experimentation

"Knowing I wanted to study at Central Saint Martins, I knew the only way to even be considered as an applicant was to take a level 3 / 4 Art Foundation. I studied for this at UCM on a 1 year course. This was a completely different style of learning to school but was fun and felt a lot more free as we were able to try out new art mediums, mine being 3D, Ceramics, Fashion and Textiles. The main purpose of this year was to explore yourself and build a strong portfolio ready for interviews. I was offered an unconditional place to study Textile Design just 3 days after my interview, needless to say I firmed the place there and then knowing that it was the university for me.

"My final Major Project at UCM was based on natural dye, where I hand dyed my own fabrics in various techniques and constructed them into a fun and fluffy garment which was later displayed in the OXO tower in London as apart of the UAL Creative Origins Art Festival 2018.

term-one-weave-sampleTerm One Weave Sample

"I gained a distinction with my foundation as well as securing the overall Knox/Sayle Manx Inspiration Award, the KPMG Determination, Ambition and Hard Work Award, the UAL Foundation Award from UCM as well as being awarded a 2018 Student Bursary by the Isle Of Man Arts Council.

"When deciding what degree I wanted to study I mainly asked myself ‘what do I enjoy doing the most?’ because at the end of the day, why go into a degree I won’t actually enjoy doing for 3 years? I looked into my strengths and weakness and quickly realised I had a big passion for colour and texture, but wanted a very hands on approach within these areas as well as the freedom to choose what my final outcome could be (fine art, fashion, interiors). The perfect fit for me was Textile Design, allowing me to work in all of the areas I enjoy as well as keeping a very hands on approach to the work. Central Saint Martins really worked for me best, and has been even better than I expected which I did not think was possible. I now have the creative freedom to create exactly what I want within a brief and show my strengths and own style though the work whether it be through traditional textile techniques, mixed media approaches or new computer based textiles.

term one-weave-sampleTerm One Weave Sample

Q. How would you describe your work?

"Since starting University we have explored four different pathways of textiles, Print, Knit, Weave and Colour. Later in the year I chose to specialise in Print, which includes screen, mono and heat transfer techniques, as well as Knit, where we use domestic Knit machines and hand knitting techniques.

"I would describe my work as very 3D/abstract, colourful and heavily textured, specifically my recent Knit work where I took inspiration from a 3D sculpture I formed from scrap materials using inspiration from a V&A drawing day. I focused on abstracting the drawing so far that it becomes its own piece of artwork, therefore allowing me the creative freedom to design and produce new and interesting outcomes. I was able to focus on the colour by hand dyeing my own yarns to match my colour pallette, as well as picking specific textured yarns to give a more 3D textural feel to the outcomes rather than being flat samples. I also incorporated wire and beadwork into my knitting as well.

abstract-drawing-projectAbstract Drawing Project

Q. Where do you gather inspiration from?

"Living in London is amazing for gathering inspiration, but so is coming from a small island rich in culture. I try to combine elements of home and London, recently using Isle Of Man rock formations as an inspiration for texture, as well as combining ceramic pots from the V+A to create unusual work. We have been taught how to take a piece of inspiration and work into it through drawing, painting, sculpture making etc, to a point where it no longer resembles the beginning state, but is now a piece of art in itself for you to be inspired from, therefore you never copy or re-do someone else’s work.

knit-experimentationKnit Experimentation

Q. You’re currently studying at Central St. Martins which has a rich history with the arts and many famous alumni. How is your first year there going? Has it lived up to your expectations?

"My first year living in London and studying at Central Saint Martins has been a million times better than I ever expected! I have made amazing friends which have really shaped this year for me and who encourage each other so positively all of the time. University has been a whirlwind of excitement, I really haven’t stopped since the first day! Living and studying in this specific city and university has greatly helped me develop my creativity to a new level that I never imagined I could reach, so I am even more excited for what second year holds for me.

term-two-drawing-projectTerm Two Drawing Project

Q. Whilst you were studying at UCM you were involved with island showcases such as the Wearable Art Show. What were your major takeaways from being involved in a community event like this?

"I was involved in the Wearable Art Show during my A levels at Castle Rushen High School, having earlier that year showed work in the Isle Of Man Arts Festival, which was a big push for me being able to showcase my work. I really enjoyed being involved in this show and think it is such a positive thing for the island to be doing so that creatives can come together. Later on whilst studying at UCM I was apart of making garments for the 2017 international wool conference which again was a big confidence booster.

Despite this I feel that the island does still lack a lot of creative opportunities for the younger people, especially within fashion and textiles. UCM Art Foundation tutors are amazing at pushing you to work hard to enable you to take your studies further within Art but there still isn’t a great community support whether that be from a stigma around studying art or just not enough general push. So all in all, the Wearable Art Show is a great opportunity for the creative community but has also made me realise how much more could be done for creatives on the island.

term-two-drawing-projectTerm Two Drawing Project

Q. Where is the best place to keep up to date with what you’re doing?

"The best place to keep up to date with all of my work in my instagram- @eltextiles. Here I usually post updates on my developments and final pieces for projects. Throughout the summer it is going to be a little quiet on the page as I am mainly researching and having a good relax before starting again in September. But expect there to be lots of exciting new stuff come the new term starting!


You can keep up to date with Ellie's work via her Instagram @eltextlies


Ellie Byrne

Read Part Two of our interview with Ellie.


A sponsored body of
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture
Rheynn Ynsee, Spoyrt as Cultoor
Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of man Government
×