On Saturday morning I headed down to Porthmeor Studios in St Ives to judge a scarf competition for Falmouth University textile design students. It was a stormy day, with dark skies, and sleet blowing horizontally at our faces. There weren’t many brave enough to walk across Porthmeor Beach.

A stormy Porthmeor beach

The students had been briefed by their tutor, Simon Clarke, to design a square, silk scarf inspired by either the artists who had worked at Porthmeor studios or St Ives and the landscape of West Cornwall.

When I arrived, I was greeted by all of the 19 students who were chatting excitedly, wrapped up in their hats, gloves and winter coats. Then I proceeded to the Borlase Smart Room where their chosen scarves had been beautifully displayed by Simon. The judging panel were discussing the format of the day.

Falmouth University students' scarves all displayed and ready for judging

The judging panel consisted of Victoria Sargent, designer at Beckford Silks; Barry Sinton, who ran the shop at Tate St Ives; and me. It was a good balance between design and retail. Also, sitting on the panel (but not officially judging) were Chris Hibbert, Manager of Borlase Smart John Wells Trust, Porthmeor Studios; Simon Clarke, textile design tutor at Falmouth Uni., practicing textile designer & artist, and accomplished author; Rob Ward, an Art & Graphics teacher at De Montford School, Evesham (& Victoria’s fiancé) & Lynne King, textile designer (and also my auntie!)

Each of the students had the nerve-wracking task of presenting their research, development work, and final designs to the panel. They all excelled in this task & we were extremely impressed with their professional manner. They had all chosen interesting and diverse influences to focus on, and had produced sketchbooks full of developmental ideas, paintings, photographs and collages. Here is Sophie Pope showing us her excellent life drawings inspired by Roger Hilton.

After the presentations, we had a lengthy discussion and finally came to the decision of choosing two joint winners, Megan Jones and Poppy Thaxter. We felt that their designs made the strongest scarves, and that they had given the best response to the brief. Both designs capture the feeling and essence of St Ives and the artists that worked at these studios.

Here is Megan Jones, holding out her beautiful scarf to the judges. Megan focused on the work of Sir Terry Frost & Sandra Blow. Her finished design has strong, abstracted forms & textures depicting the harbour of St Ives & the winding streets.

And here is Poppy Thaxter showing us her stunning scarf. Poppy studied the work of Patrick Heron, her favourite St Ives artist. The final design is actually one of a series of abstract collages which play with the use of complementary colours.

These two designs will be skilfully reproduced by Beckford Silks, and will be packaged in a beautiful box. We will keep you posted as to when they are ready for sale. I personally cannot wait to add one of each design to my rather extensive scarf collection!!

Here are a few close ups of some of my other favourite designs, and a lovely photo of most of the students with their work. (I apologise to the few that I didn’t manage to get within the shot!!)

Clockwise from top left: Ruta Staniuleviciute, Poppy Purchase, Chloe Scott, Lauren Thompson

The exhibition at the Borlase Smart Room, Porthmeor Studios is open now. It will definitely continue for the next month, & may be extended until after Easter. Please go and have a look at all of these beautiful designs.

Sophie x

Sophie Chadwick is our co-founder and print designer. Read all about Sophie and Seasalt.