First Winner of AAS Student Award for ‘Inspiring Sustainability’

Student Chloe Fea is the first winner of the new AAS Student Competition piloted this year with City of Glasgow College which was open to HNC Applied Arts students with the work forming part of the jewellery module.

The ongoing Covid-19 situation caused major disruption to student access to college workshops and in person teaching so students did not have workshop time to make their finished pieces, and the competition was judged on concept, design and environmental awareness only.

The brief was to develop a brooch design inspired by an element of nature they felt is threatened by Climate Change and to include an experimental technique.

Sketches of ideas for award design
Sketches by Chloe Fea from proposal showing brooch development.

The entries were reviewed by Lisa McGovern, curriculum head of craft and design at City of Glasgow College and Barbara Shearer, jeweller and AAS Board Member who said “Chloe’s submission demonstrated the most comprehensive research, her concept was closely aligned with sustainable practice and showed an awareness of elements of climate change, particularly greenhouse gases and depletion of the ozone layer.”

As her prize Chloe receives free AAS Associate Membership for a year and mentoring from an AAS Member.  She is now in the first year of a degree course in costume design and construction at Queen Margaret University.  

In a virtual interview Barbara Shearer found out more about her inspiration and plans for the future.

Did you know from an early age that you wanted to pursue a career in the Arts?

It was actually more recently, about 4 years ago that I realised the arts was what I hoped to do as a career. When I was younger I very much enjoyed art however I wasn’t exactly a natural at it nor had any grand aspirations for a future in it. I kept it up as a hobby for a long time and when I got to academy I took the subject as a creative outlet and break from the more stressful maths and science courses where I assumed I was headed in the future. It wasn’t until I impulsively went to an open day talk for costume design I realised that was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Crocheted head, Chloe Fea

You recently completed HNC Applied Arts at City of Glasgow College. How has your time at college influenced your practice? Has your focus changed by being exposed to a wide range of craft disciplines?

My time doing my applied arts course was really beneficial to me as an artist. The opportunity to take part in such a wide range of disciplines really helped my creative thinking and technical abilities in both traditional and more contemporary media. I actually felt that for all the negatives of the pandemic over the past year, from a learning point of view in this course it was really helpful, because in courses like these its easy to take and be really excited about all the different media only to loose any application for it when you move on and no longer have access to all the materials and equipment. Having to work from home during glass and ceramic units really inspired me to think about applications of techniques to alternative materials and diversify my thought process and find entirely new ways to work.

Costume for Nick Bottom in A Midsummers Night’s Dream, Chloe Fea

What artists inspire and influence your work?

My main focus is generally more design based, in particular wearable art, so many of my inspirations for art across disciplines is inspired by designers in these fields. The latest designer who I have found influential and studied across my previous project is Nick Cave and his soundsuits which I find particularly inspirational. The way the performance art pieces are so fun and interactive and completely centred around movement is something I hope to channel in my work.

Costume, Chloe Fea

How important is sustainability in your practice?

Sustainability is very important in my work, I will always try to make my work sustainable and eco friendly in all my projects. For me this normally takes the form of upcycling and using old items or sourcing materials from charity shops/ buying second hand to make my art. This is a great way to reduce waste, and the use of old materials helps inspire new ideas and opens possibilities to give materials a new lease of life. As well as this, sourcing materials like this is a super cost effective method and really great as a student so it’s win win.

What are your plans for the future, both immediate and longer term?

For my plans in the future, I am about to go into my first year of a degree course in costume design and construction, the same course that set my on the pathway to pursue the arts. While I am not entirely sure where this will take me specifically yet, this course is all the things I love and I hope to learn through experience which fields in particular I prefer above others and what sort of career I hope to find from there. At the end of the day I know I’ll be happy as long as I get to be creative.

Images:  Crochet designs by Chloe Fea who is modelling the hats and costumes.

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