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PhD textile student bases research in north Shetland isle

21 December 2010

A doctoral student has been appointed by a social enterprise in Shetland to provide textile expertise to them and the wider community.

Sarah Dearlove, 38 is a knitwear designer by profession and will gain first hand experience working with Global Yell Ltd as part of her PhD research looking at the Shetland textile heritage and creativity in the community, based on the Isle of Yell.

Global Yell is a charitable company with a remit for education and training in textiles and music, runs textiles through ASF Shetland and music through Global Yell Music from the Centre for Creative Industries, based in Sellafirth, Yell. The centre aims to nurture, train and educate in arts and crafts, combining traditional skills with new technologies to enhance existing businesses and to help sustain the vibrant creative community in the North Isles.

Sarah joined Global Yell last week as part of the Collaborative Research Award through the Heriot-Watt University with ASF Shetland as a part funder and she plans to visit Yell regularly over a three year period.

For the last two years, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working with Global Yell to develop the organisation, skills and expertise of its staff and volunteers.

The PhD research programme will research and develop ways of working with textiles, both historically and contemporary, with ASF Shetland and makers on the islands. There are plans for workshops and events within the community which will support textiles across the islands, looking at its history, contemporary practice and the future.

Sarah will have access to a fully equipped weave studio and relevant resources such as a collection of textiles, makers and artists.

Currently a part-time lecturer at Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design based in Galashiels, Sarah has a MA in knitwear design from Central St Martins in London. She has worked abroad for fashion brands in Milan, Munich and New York as well as running her own knitwear company selling to the international luxury market.

Mark Georgeson, HIE's head of business growth in Shetland said: "We are delighted that ASF Shetland has taken on a PhD student to research and develop textiles for the company. Having someone of the calibre of Sarah working in Yell will be a tremendous asset to ASF and the Shetland islands as a whole. Shetland has an established reputation for creative industries, and Global Yell is providing a growing and innovative contribution to that. They are developing new and exciting opportunities for the local market and tourists which is a real asset to Shetland."

Andrew Ross is the creative director of Global Yell Ltd and along with a programme co-ordinator he works with volunteers to run programmes and events. Three other people are also involved in singing training programmes and a small educational textiles programme is under development for schools

Andy said: "This is a great opportunity for us to develop our work and to help makers in the islands. We are excited by the chance to work with Heriot-Watt and are looking forward to working with Sarah, and to learning more about the past, present and future of textiles from Shetland. We are particularly pleased that Sarah will be bringing her knowledge of knitting because of the fine tradition of knitting in Shetland, and we would like to thank Heriot-Watt and the AHRC for recognising the importance of textiles and for their support of this important island resource."

Sarah is delighted to be able to work within a small community.

She said: "I am really looking forward to starting work at ASF Shetland and gain some experience and knowledge of the textiles industry in the area and the wider community, meet new people and share my passion and understanding for textiles"

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