Living and working sustainably at Falmouth

26 February 2021

Textile Design graduate Jane Gray’s sustainable artwork has been showcased by the Craft Council’s Future Edit – a roundup of the best graduate craft and design talent from 2020. Her series of Mottainai paper structures, produced by weaving dried plants into Japanese paper yarn, are both beautiful and bio-degradable.

Here, Jane reflects on the importance of sustainability, the power of nature and studying as a mature student. 

 

Attending Falmouth University as a mature student was so right for me. It was a dream to attain a degree and meet lovers of textiles. It was now my time to shine; circumstances prior to this hadn’t allowed, I was too busy raising four children.

Being part of Falmouth University’s optimism for sustainability, I could feel my growth and confidence develop; I loved living life amongst a textile and sustainable fashion community of likeminded students and staff. It was empowering, exciting, young and full of fresh innovative ideas. This diverse movement of forward-thinking creative people opened up more opportunities and challenged me to work even harder. 

It was a dream to attain a degree and meet lovers of textiles. 

I wanted to allow nature to flow through me for my work to develop, so naturally my projects became an extension of that mindset. As my projects were based on nature, I took advantage of many mindful walks along the beaches and through wooded areas of trees near my home. This was a refuge and helped me keep my sanity. It became even more valid once the lockdown restrictions came into effect. Nature is a therapy and a balance for life’s stresses.

While studying I kept my eye on social media opportunities, applying and submitting my work online to callouts for new artists. Of course, it was with great delight when I received a letter of congratulations from the Crafts Council, #FutureEdit, that my submission had been successful. 

This diverse movement of forward-thinking creative people opened up more opportunities and challenged me to work even harder. 

After graduating, I looked at all I had achieved at Falmouth and started to focus on how I would consolidate my learning and know-how into a business. I built a large studio and have started designing workshop programs that will run once the Government allows us to resume activities. I want to share my wisdom, serve and support other likeminded creatives on this journey and allow the story to further unfold. 

These three valuable years on reflection were more remarkable than I noticed at the time. Life was going on around me at home at breakneck speed: three new grandchildren were born during this time, I had my daughter and family living with me whilst they renovated their new house, it was hectic, and I was really busy focussing on my research and weaving. Those ‘plates’ were spinning fast as I worked hard to multitask in order to stay on top of it all.

I wanted to flex the grey matter and keep it youthful whilst I was studying, and I believe it worked. My memory has improved and research is just a way of life for me now. University enabled me to focus on what mattered most to me and how I might make a difference, forging a new path for my future, and one that my grandchildren might be proud of someday. I hope that I can inspire other mature students - you are never too old, as life is a state of mind!

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