Textiles and Fashion


In 1955 when I attended Carlisle College of Art and design it was just one mansion house, Homeacres. This was set in what I would say was a huge parklands and a very dark approach from Brampton Road. There were very few street lights and virtually no lights on the college grounds. The path leading to Homeacres had an almost gothic approach and was really scary to a 16 year old student. Inside, the building was however very different. The studios were bright and every room packed with students doing various art projects ñ mine was textile design. Sounds simple ñ just attend and paint or draw. No such thing! There was fabrics; weaving; various methods of media painting and of course the equipment used. Watercolour ñ oils ñ poster paints ñ charcoal etcÖ The the weaving of colours on a small loom and screen printing of your design on to fabric. Carlisle at that time had many textile firms and was an industrial city with many outlets for students from the college. However imagining all the students were housed and working in Homeacres house so really by todayís comparisons it was quite an exclusive few. The pottery section was about 500 yards from the main building and to get to it on a dark night was very scary ñ no lights, so we had to follow a path from Homeacres to the pottery building over very dark tree lined parkland. The thought of it gives me goose pimples even now!! I was only a part-time student because I had managed to get my portfolio accepted at ìHolmeheadî i.e. Ferguson Fabrics in Denton Holme where I worked with release arrangements to study at the college one day per week and three nights. I was getting paid £2 and 10 shillings per week at Holmehead and had to pay for my paints etc from that amount. Yes itís true ñ a struggling artist! My career in design came to an abrupt end in 1957 when I passed the Open Civil Service Examination and was offered a clerical post which paid £3 ñ 17 shillings - 6 pence. ñ I took the job and my textile design career was over. However, what I learned at Homeacres has served me well through the years. Homeacres, now Cumbria Institute of the Arts is a far cry from what I knew. I have performed in the theatre in plays and musicals ñ I have helped students with films as an actor and I have done a classroom census. The college has grown beyond belief and is wonderful and full of opportunities for the hundreds of students. I hope they appreciate the facilities they have ñ because they have grown from very humble beginnings. How I envy you all!

David Lyons