Amanda Odlin - Staff Spotlight
After graduating from UCLan in 1988 I moved to Manchester and set up my own label with a studio in the Northern Quarter, which is at the heart of the creative, independent area of Manchester. I absolutely loved my time designing for independent stores throughout the UK and Ireland and met so many interesting people who always wanted our unique collections, even working with Designer Matthew Williamson before he was famous and the singer Lisa Stansfield. I also began my love for show production, organising many fashion shows and shoots, and even worked on the famous Hacienda 10th anniversary fashion show. I began to consider moving into teaching as students working on placement with me commented how much they were learning and liked the hands-on approach. I began teaching at several Colleges around the North-West before finally returning to UCLan in in 1996 to begin my teaching career.
I certainly do have many standout moments over my time working at UCLan. I have too many to write about here, plus over the years I have met so many interesting people and amazing students, many of whom I am still in contact after all this time. I think one of my proudest moments has to be developing the original concept for BA(Hons) Eastern Fashion Design in 2009, taught at UCLan Burnley, which is now incorporated into the Fashion Design course at Preston, to be more inclusive. Through that course I met such inspiring, talented and diverse women, I have continued to work with many of those graduates through my research projects. During my time in Burnley I was involved with many outreach projects, including community projects with The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, which was set up in 2005 by the Prince of Wales, to encourage the continued use of traditional techniques from around the world, including textile techniques. Through this work I was lucky enough to meet HRH Prince Charles on two occasions and unbelievably I also met the Queen and Prince Philip on her Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012 when she visited Burnley Campus. My favourite fashion moments have probably been all of the amazing fashion shows that I have been involved in over these 25 years, which led me to developing a module to teach students the many skills needed in organising a fashion show. I have worked as a show producer many times, all over the country, and love that you see the work from concept to catwalk. The lengths some fashion students go to with intricate detailing, innovative textile designs and creative shape-making has never ceased to amaze me after all these years.
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is an independent museum and registered charity ‘The Rachel Kay Shuttleworth (RKS) Textile Collection.’ Which was established in 1959 within the Gawthorpe Hall estate, in Padiham, Lancashire which was the family home to Rachel Kay Shuttleworth MBE (1886- 1967) who was a life-long collector of global textile and craft items. As the only dedicated textile collection of its size and variety outside of London, the collection of over 30,000 pieces is of global importance and is an unbelievable resource. I can testify that this is one of the most diverse, interesting, and encyclopaedic textile collections in the UK and is known to specialists worldwide.
Rachel was also a philanthropist who devoted her life to actively improving the social welfare of local communities and the link with UCLan is pertinent because of her vision for the collection to be used for education, and to promote wellbeing. Her dream was to create a craft house – a ‘centre of excellence’ for learning textile skills. We are working hard to make this a reality. Visit the website for more information: https://www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk/
There are far too many to mention but I do love the samples sewn with human hair, the pigtails that were used as apple presses, the Portuguese embroidered bag, the South Asian block prints, the Chinese robes, the 18th Century shirt collection that we studied as part of our heirloom project, and the beautiful hand-sewn ‘CV’s’ that are such a wonderful part of our past, where samplers were sewn by children, some as young as 6 years old, that were to show off all of the skills they had to an employer in darning, button holes, monograms, etc.. and so relevant for out slow fashion ‘visible mending’ movement.
The impact of industry experience on teaching
I have been there, I know when a student has put in the effort, I know how difficult it is to find the one amazing image that no-one else has, or create the most ambitious silhouette, unique fabric or detail. Fashion is hard work, full-on and life consuming. I always tell the students fashion is 95% hard work and 5% glamour, but it is so worth it, I can’t think of a better skill to have and to see someone walk past you in a garment you have designed is one of the best feelings in the world. My Research has totally enriched my teaching as I am able to draw upon my experiences and refer students to specific samples held within the Gawthorpe Textiles collection. Creating a bespoke collection of shirts for my Research project ‘Heirloom’ also reminded me of the pressures of sewing within a tight deadline and that the need for multi-tasking and time management are absolutely crucial to any successful designer.
Upcoming exciting projects
I am beginning the Research process for a new Arts Council bid to build on the amazing success of Heirloom, and work with the weavers at Queen Street Mill to develop heritage mule-spun cloth, woven on steam powered, Victorian looms, for use in the production of shirts.
I am currently working with GTC on a lottery funded outreach bid to educate and inform the younger generation in and around Burnley about the concept of slow fashion and high fashion up-cycling techniques. Over the summer with employed four of our Fashion graduates to be mentors and work on a specific theme with the group of diverse youngsters. At the end of the project we had a photo shoot and will be launching a Zine to showcase the amazing work in November, with a view to creating a long-term ‘Fix-Hub’ in Burnley.
I am also the UCLan lead on the successful Heritage Lottery bid entitled #Digital7 Lancashire’s Textile Treasures: Connecting Communities; Curating Heritage. We are working collaboratively with SSW, GTC and UCLan to build a new and exciting digital platform that will showcase the breadth of textile heritage in East Lancashire, moving ever nearer to the creation of a centre of textile excellence in this region