In March of this year, QEGS was selected to take part in the excellent DesignLab initiative.

A group of Year 10 pupils were given an exciting opportunity to immerse themselves into a wealth of creative experiences based around the manufacturing industry in their local area.  It was formed by a collaboration between Blackburn Museum and the V&A Museum in London.  The group visited each museum, spent another day at Blackburn College and also took a trip to a wallpaper manufacturing company in Clayton-le-Moors.  The course, which took place under the guidance of textiles designer Sarah Hardacre was being held to celebrate the cultural and industrial heritage of Blackburn.

The first event, a visit to Blackburn museum gave an opportunity for pupils to see a working loom.  They also spent time exploring the museums’ collections to gather research for a design task involving screen-printing.

The second trip took the group to the V&A museum, before touring her exhibition, pupils were given a talk by the curator ‘Fashioned from Nature’, Edwina Ehrman.  Pupils then spent time with Sarah Hardacre exploring the process of the production of repeat patterns for the textile industry.  It was here that the pupils prepared patterns for their own screen-printed work.  They were also taken on a ‘whistle stop’ tour of some of the V&A’s furniture & ceramics collection.

The theme throughout the process was ‘up-cycling’, the creation of new products using discarded objects.

The third visit was to Blackburn College and to Sarah Hardacre’s college studio where the pupils and staff were taught how to screen print. They were given the opportunity to screen-print their own designs on to a wide variety of material. This gave them ideas on how they could produce products of their own, based on the repeat pattern process. They were also taken on a tour of Blackburn College’s end of year graduate exhibitions.

The final visit of the DesignLab Nation Initiative was to Surface Print. Pupils were able to see examples of the mass production element of the screen printing process. They saw high quality wallpaper being manufactured and were given an insight in the processes from start to finish.

Finally, pupils prepared a presentation to a small group of guests. They showed their completed screen prints to the guests and explained what they had learnt throughout the process, including how they would use the patterns to reinvigorate existing products.

Mr Hart and Miss Watson both agreed that this had been an excellent, well organised and worthwhile event. All pupils had thoroughly enjoyed the experience and gained a great deal of extended knowledge and understanding of the cultural heritage of Blackburn and surrounding area.