Bethie Helliwell Portfolio

Term 1 of my Second Year on BA(hons) Textile Art @ Cardiff Met

-A celebration of the structure, the people who designed it, the people who would make it and the people of Wales who would walk across it everyday-

Collaboration with ICE member, 3rd Year Civil Engineer undergraduate Gareth Edwards


I won the competition out of nearly 40  applicants.

ICE awarded me with a glade trophy and £50

We are in the process of talking about an exhibition

which would be held in a corporate building within Cardiff.

I started this module as a Designer yet I found myself working a lot better as a Artist, therefore i have changed my pathway choice to maker. I have worked with my initial given title ‘Cultural Life’ to create a panel, the concept is the journey a bridge takes. In short the stages would be the problem, the solution, the design, the building and finally being used by the public. While researching in a group at the beginning of this project, Cardiff Castle and maps of Wales were my cultural inspirations and steel cap work boots were my chosen PPE item. I experimented with these ideas and created investigative samples in print, stitch, plastic and latex. When I was first briefed about this project I thought of Gareth Edwards straight away, but couldn’t think of how to incorporate him, his knowledge, skills and experience into my work. Gareth and I have grown up together, since the age of 3 we have been collaborating. By this I mean playing together to ‘create’ everything from lego to painting. He would build sculptures out of k’nex, such as fair ground big wheels and I would watch in amazement and ‘try’ and help. He has had the potential to be an Architect or Civil Engineer from that age. I was always the more scatty one, painting and refusing to learn to read or go to science lessons. We were and still are like chalk and cheese, but we have always met a middle ground with creation. Gareth is a member of ICE as a undergrad student and as part of his university course he has designed a foot bridge for Cardiff City Centre.

I was intrigued by the idea of incorporating the bridge into my project. It fitted perfectly with my initial research which included, journeys inspired by PPE boots. I looked at Gareth’s technical drawings and video renders of the bridge and he gave me copies to work from. One thing I feel I could enhance is the detailed aesthetic design of the bridge. When playing with lego at the age of 4, Gareth would concentrate on the structure and I would want the colour of the blocks to match or make a pattern. I have designed and created many panels with different scales and designs in prototype form. When designing and making the main panel, I had in mind, that if situated on the bridge it would be viewed from different platforms, the outside is bold and the inside is detailed. I hope the panel would work close up when walking on the bridge and from a far when driving underneath or shopping in the vicinity.

The panel design celebrates the people who designed the bridge, through technical drawings. The people who would build the bridge are symbolised by PPE boot footprints and high-vis jacket strips and the people who would walk over and drive under the bridge, are shown through screen printed maps of Wales and a digitally printed design inspired by Cardiff Castle. On the pedestrian side of the panel, I open mesh printed the background in 4 layers and colours, then added PPE high-vis strips taken from the jackets donated by ICE. Finally I screen printed, in bold black and subtle silver, the ICE logo, PPE footprints, maps and Gareth’s technical drawings of the bridge. I then added thick black stitch in the form of enlarged map outlines to tie the whole design together. Secondly I focused on the side which would be viewed from the road, this had to be less detailed and less busy, so I digitally printed the large scale abstract design I drew while on site at Cardiff Castle. This aspect of the design celebrates welsh culture and links old civil engineering with new. I envisage this being a puzzle like design which would run across the entire bridge linking each panel to the other to create one long design, which would be eye catching but not dazzling to drivers. I have had to add open mesh print either side of the bold castle inspired design, due to costings of digital printing, I could only afford to print 1.5m when my panel is 2m long. However I feel this works when displayed separately as an exhibition piece as it ties the two sides together by using the same colour range.  The scale I have used is slightly smaller than Gareth’s original designs, due to cost of perspex. Although the designing and making of this panel has been challenging I have really enjoyed working on a large scale and I would love to do more large pieces in the future.

This entry was published on December 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm. It’s filed under BA(hons) Textile Art 2nd Year, Cardiff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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