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Catch Up With... Erin Mcquarrie

The first couple of years after graduating can be the most challenging so we caught up with our ‘Ones to Watch’ to see what they’ve been up to since they were spotted by the CIDA judges. In our next few blogs they will tell us how it really is – from highs to lows and their biggest challenges in pursuing a colourful creative life

“It means a lot to see all that award is doing to support people in the early stages of their careers. It was lovely to meet you last year and I want to say how much I appreciate you getting back in touch”.

Erin McQuarrie, BA Hons Textile Design, The Glasgow School of Art. Erin was spotted at the 2018 awards.

What was the first big thing you did after becoming a CIDA ‘One to Watch’ (new work, exhibition, show, event, meeting, pitch?).

In July, I was selectedas one of 24 graduates from across the UK for TexSelect 2018, a mentoring programme designed to support emerging textile designers in the transition between academia and industry. Through this process I took part their London showcase at Chelsea College of Art and then in September travelled with the group to exhibit at Premiere Vision, a large international fabric trade show, in Paris.

How successful was it and what did you learn?

Taking part in Premiere Vision was the first time I had shown my work outside of the UK. This was an incredibly valuable experience, giving me key insights into the reality of selling my designs to an international market and really highlighted the fast-paced turnover of trends and colours in the industry. There were many companies displaying innovative process based materials and for me, having the chance to visit the Sport & Tech Forum was incredibly inspiring. Exhibiting at an event of this scale as an individual was not something I would have envisaged pursuing so soon after graduating and there were definitely aspects of putting a personal collection out into the commercial world I found challenging. As we were all in the same boat, it was great to go through the experience with the other 23 designers and get to know them and their practices. I was really fortunate to be awarded prizes from Liberty and WGSN through TexSelect which have been crucial in helping me to create new work since.

What have been the hardest creative obstacles to overcome recently and do you think you have overcome them?

When you are at art school you have access to incredible facilities and since leaving, it has been a bit of a logistical challenge to work out how to keep making without this full support and network of people around you. I enjoy working alone but I miss the creative environment of a busy studio and being able to bounce off ideas with classmates. I try to recreate this by making sure I stay involved with arts events and lectures around my city. Applying for funding and residencies has now become a much more prevalent part of my practice and it almost feels like an art form in itself. I initially struggled with the amount of time I needed to dedicate to this as I found I was increasingly spending more time in front of a screen writing and less time actually making. However, I now feel I have come to a point where I have a much better understanding of how to balance my time and create a schedule which works for me.

What have been the best things you’ve done since winning a CIDA ‘One to Watch’ award and what have you learnt as a result?

Recently my work was selected as part of a graduate showcase by Visual Arts Scotland. Their annual show is held at The Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, a gallery which I have visited since I was young, and it felt extremely special to have the opportunity to exhibit there. Taking part in a large visual arts event of this sort confirmed that the appreciation of textiles and their value is growing in Scotland. Contemplating; colour, form, structure and narrative, it is increasingly viewed as an expressive and flexible medium that has a valid place in both the worlds of fine art and design and that, for me, is really rewarding.

What’s next?

I am currently in the process of applying for graduate studies and look forward to the prospect of creating a body of new work and research which continues to explore my interest the benefits of combining craft and technology to create expressive material prototypes.

To find out more about Erin and make contact:

See more of Erins work:

Instagram: @erin.mcquarrie

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