An aspiring artist from West Nottinghamshire College has described her pride at seeing her work featured in a prestigious exhibition that is expected to attract 25,000 visitors.
Art and design student Ellie-Rose Duffin submitted a mixed-media piece she produced at college to the Harley Gallery’s 2019 Open Exhibition – and was thrilled when it was selected by judges.
Her work, called Lichen – named after the moss-like or fungi-type organism that can grow on trees – is one of 110 pieces currently on display at the exhibition, chosen out of almost 550 entries.
The 19-year-old, who studies the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design, produced the work last year as part of an assignment called ‘One Object’. Students were provided with a selection of natural objects to pick from and were tasked with studying one in close depth, recording details often overlooked.
Ellie-Rose, from Warsop, Mansfield, chose a small piece of broken branch with lichen on it, and focused in particular on the textures and colours. Her final piece combines textile and print-making processes including 3D medium, screen-printing and embroidery techniques using an abstracted macro viewpoint.
Explaining what inspired her, Ellie-Rose said: “There was just something about the texture of the lichen that fascinated me, so I thought it’d be interesting to re-create it in 3D textile form.
“I made it out of puff-binder, which is like a paint that you heat it up and it expands. I then hand-died some thread and French-knotted it, which made really nice lichen-type shapes. It took about four hours to make, all in one go. I didn’t think it was going to work in the beginning – I thought ‘I’m going to mess this up’ – but I’m really happy with how it came out.
“All the techniques are what I’ve learnt at college. I didn’t really know anything about puff-binder or how to dye fabrics before my studies, so the course has definitely taught me a lot.”
Ellie-Rose submitted her work to the gallery for consideration and was ecstatic to discover it had been chosen by its expert curators and trustees to appear at the biennial exhibition, which features works from artists in a wide range of wall-based media, including paint, print and photography, from keen amateurs to professionals.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it – I was so happy I almost cried. It was just a really great moment. I’d never had my work exhibited before, so having this opportunity is absolutely amazing.
“There are so many fantastic pieces of work on display at the exhibition – and I’m really proud to say that mine is part of it.”
The teenager has applied to various universities to study either surface design, jewellery design, or decorative arts, from September. Her ambition is to become a professional artist or work in the fashion or jewellery-design industries.
Fashion and textiles tutor Katharine Kennedy, who teaches students in the college’s Visual Arts and Design Centre, said: “I’d been supporting Ellie-Rose with university applications and urged her to enter the Harley Open as a way of boosting her self-confidence and pushing herself to exhibit some of the wonderful mixed-media pieces she’s created at college.
“Ellie-Rose has an intuitive talent for observation, which she uses to great effect in her incredibly well thought-out and sensitively rendered design work. She has progressed from Level 1 to Level 3 study with us, so the entire art and design team is extremely proud that almost four years of hard work has been recognised and celebrated in this way.
“Exhibiting is such an important step in the career of our young artists and designers. Not only does it start to build their profile by putting their work in front of an audience – the primary reason for its production – it also puts the professional skills developed at college into action, and allows them to build confidence as their work is exhibited beside established local and national artists”.
2019 marks The Harley Gallery’s 25th anniversary and the popular Open Exhibition kick-starts its celebratory year.
The exhibition runs until Sunday 24 March at the gallery, located in The Courtyard on the Welbeck estate, near Worksop, and is expected to attract around 25,000 visitors.