We are Makers and Creators: Dr Lucy Robertson
Hailing from several generations of creatives, Dr Lucy Robertson grew up surrounded by colours, drawing and making and now specialises in textiles for wellbeing.
We headed to Lucy’s home-studio to see what inspires her, where her journey to textiles began and how she kept herself creative during the pandemic.
This blog serves part of our Makers and Creators photo series, showcasing our talented staff.
How did you decide textile design was the route for you?
Textile Design is in my blood, my great granny worked as a textile conservationist and skilled embroiderer.
As a baby my Mum would take me to the fashion studios where she taught and have me in the sling while she knitted – it was meant to be from an early age.
I started to explore textiles in my final year at school encouraged by my high school teacher Mrs Calder. I then went on to a foundation year at Leith School of Art, it was here that my plan to study textile design was reinforced by a conversation I had with the principle about a drawing I was doing of moss on bark in charcoal.
I initially specialised as a print designer. In my final year at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, I decided I wanted to learn more about how textiles could be integrated with materials that could change colour, make sound or light up.
Initially this was for communication and connection between family members. I then took this into a PhD exploring interactive textiles and how they could be used to explore and enhance wellbeing.
Your work includes themes of textiles for wellbeing, could you tell us a bit about that?
My research brings together craft, making, technology and textiles to enable social connections, celebrate creativity and foster new relationships and experiences for those living with dementia and their communities.
Through my final PhD project, Creative Clans, I ran a series of workshops with two Dementia Friendly Communities (DFCs) in Scotland.
Through interactive textile workshops I worked with these DFCs to understand how the making and use of interactive textiles could affect wellbeing.
My research approach is person-centred, putting the participants at the centre and treating them as experts. They are involved in the planning and shaping of the research and the practical outputs.
Where does your inspiration generally come from?
Family have been a huge influence for me within my practice. My upbringing was full of making, drawing and experimenting with a range of materials and techniques.
My grandparents met at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and both went on to be art teachers. Granny still creates patchworks and Grandpa still draws and paints.
My Mum studied fashion and later started her own knitwear company with my Dad.
They now have a company creating steampunk style lighting out of pre-loved items and restoring homeware, JanerDesigns.
How did the pandemic impact your practice?
During the first lockdown I found online life drawing and this allowed me to revisit drawing for fun.
I would set up in my little box room studio, call my mum and tune into All The Young Nudes live from Scotland.
We would chat and draw and the worries of the pandemic would disappear for a couple of hours. This acted as a way of reminding myself that I enjoy drawing, gave me time to experiment with a range drawing materials again and also acted as a way to connect with my Mum in a time where we could not see each other in person.
Alongside this I revisited knitting, crochet and started to play with Jesmonite.
Why does creativity matter to you?
Creativity will save the world.
Creative thinking can help solve the biggest problems that face us today and is something we must continue to foster within ourselves and our students.
We need creative people in all aspects of life to challenge, design and instigate a brighter future. See the ‘This Was Designed’ student-led graphics campaign.
And finally, tell us your favourite spot in Norwich
Norwich is full of amazing places, I think my favourite is the river.
I have a stand-up paddle board, and one of my favourite routes through the city is on the river, especially paddling past St Georges building to see our studios/office from the water. Stand up paddle boarding is an amazing way to explore Norwich and Norfolk from the water.
Photography by Chris Roberts, BA Photography