Isabel Fletcher is a clothing and textile designer with an environmentally conscious approach, incorporating offcuts into her pieces and finding ways to convey the important message of consuming less.
How has COVID-19 affected the space in which you work and create? (Do you normally work at home, studio space or outside?)
Over the course of lockdown, my workspace has changed completely, in-part due to the pandemic. I had already planned to move out of my Brixton studio in late March in order to find a cheaper space but the timing was thankfully perfect as I wouldn’t have wanted to travel in on the bus and work in a communal space during the peak of the pandemic. Instead, I worked from home, and continued to look for a new space to move into once things settled down. Because working from home has worked so well for me, I have decided to keep this setup in place rather than looking for a separate studio. I love that I can be using the kitchen for my natural dying experiments, while simultaneously getting on with other practical and computer based work. I have also found I am able to attend more educational workshops and talks than in pre-lockdown times now that they are all online. This benefits my work hugely, and means I am able to fit more into my days.
How has creating amidst a worldwide pandemic adapted your practice through the themes and methods you use?
Creating work during this pandemic has not necessarily changed the way I work, but it has reinforced my reasons for working with sustainable practises. At the beginning of lockdown, I saw a caption which said “It feels as though the world has told us to go to our rooms and think about what we have done”. To me, this perfectly summed up how I was feeling, and how I hoped the pandemic could positively impact society and business on a global scale.
How has creating amidst a worldwide pandemic adapted your practice through Have you faced creative block during lockdown, if so how have you worked through it?
I feel incredibly lucky that my exhibition ‘Offcut Two’ was shown just before lockdown in early March. If it had been a week or two later, I would have had to cancel or postpone it. Following my exhibition, I had a few commissions to keep my creativity going so have not hit a creative block (yet!). Between commissions, I have been pushing forwards with development for new techniques and ways of working. It was very important for me to keep up the creative energy following my exhibition, possibly even more so than in normal times in order to prevent falling into a creative lull. The piece created during lockdown which I am most proud of is a quilted wall hanging made from naturally dyed offcuts arranged as an abstracted textile collage.
If any, how have you used existing creative skills in a completely new way?
During my working days at Squire and Partners, myself and a team of colleagues produced a range of PPE for the NHS using our in house facilities and skills. My colleagues in the Modelshop were 3D printing visors, and I was making sets of scrubs for a number of hospitals and medical centres across South London. It was fantastic to use my skills to produce vital PPE for frontline medical workers, and being part of a huge network of other local sewers. The visors and scrubs had bespoke ‘One Love NHS’ detailing to show our appreciation to the medical staff, while adding a hint of joy to the PPE.
During this period of lockdown, have there been any new creative skills or exercises you have started practicing?
As well as completing commissioned pieces, I have been experimenting with quilting techniques, and different natural dyes to inspire new work I plan to make in the coming months. Outside of work time, I have always had a personal sewing project on the go to fill in the extra time at home I am not used to having. This meant I finally got round to using fabrics I have had for years, adding some colour and fun to my lockdown wardrobe!
What things have brought you joy and hope that you’d like to share?
The Artist Support Pledge is a wonderful initiative set up by Matthew Burrows to support artists and makers during lockdown. This project is a true reflection of positivity and ingenuity coming out of hardship. Being part of the PPE effort brought me a huge amount of hope, showing how communities can pull together and produce on a huge macro level from a micro starting point. I also found listening to podcasts such as Material Matters with Grant Gibson very inspiring. It is great hearing about other makers and designers, especially at the moment when we are at risk of feeling detached and isolated from the creative world.
We all want to make it.
Make it in our chosen career. Maybe make it big.
Sometimes perhaps just make it to pay day.
But whatever our ambition, what unites us all is the desire to thrive, be recognised – and be supported.
And that’s what Lambeth’s Creative Enterprise Zone is all about. Supporting creative people to do amazing creative things without having to leave our amazingly creative corner of south London.
Because we all want to make it – of course – but more than that, we want to Make It in Brixton.
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