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Currently on display in the Lower Gallery at Bonhoga is an exhibition of the work from the talented Shetland College students from the Contemporary Textiles course.
Marcia Galvin is a 3rd year BA(Hons) Contemporary Textiles student, currently on year three of the four year degree. She is working at a half time level of study- meaning she has been studying with the College for 5 years now. Before the Degree she completed the access course at Shetland college, NC Art and Design Portfolio Building. Here she shares with her some of her inspiration and creative process.

Where do you do your work?

I do all of my degree work at Shetland College UHI, I have access to many kinds of different knitting machines and a great selection of yarns and fibres on hand.

What interesting equipment do you use?

I think all knitting machines are interesting, but I really enjoy using the V-bed machines, also known as double bed machines. There is a selection of these vintage machines at the college, and I’m still discovering new techniques using them.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?


I’m a huge fan of modern architecture so I take a lot of inspiration from the patterns and texture of buildings, but I’m also drawn to everyday urban life, the things that surround us every day that we have become so used to that we stop noticing.

How do you work, what is your process? What's your favourite part of the process?
My process is mostly based from visual images, but also I try to convey some sense of emotional connection too. I like to gather all my ideas in a sketchbook, which I filter down to things that I can translate to pattern or texture and knit. It then continues to a process of experimenting and refining, changing tensions, yarn, materials, colour, size etc until I am happy with the finished piece.


My favourite part of the process is when I first start experimenting with knit, I have basic ideas but never have a strict plan of action, I like to work intuitively and create in the moment. It has to feel good, there has to be some harmony between me and the knitting machine!

What is next for you?
After summer I will be continuing the 3rd year of BA(Hons) Contemporary Textiles and as well as my college work I do knit at home, both by hand and by machine (I have a knitting machine at home) and I’ve been experimenting with dyeing yarns and creating some knitwear with my hand dyed yarns. It’s quite a balance separating degree work knit and home knit but it seems to work for me.

Craft aside, what do you like to do in your spare time?

To be honest most of my spare time I use doing something craft related!
I love music, and when I have the time I play alto saxophone with my friends and in the Shetland Community Orchestra, other than that I like to read non-fiction and listen to Radio 4 Extra every day.

If you could own another artist’s work, who would you choose? Why?

I would love a mural piece of work by William Mitchell. He is known for his large scale concrete abstract murals. His public art is mostly dotted around in shopping centres, civic buildings, schools, churches etc. I just love the interest he creates with pattern and texture, and I’m a huge fan of concrete, I think it’s a very under rated material.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I can’t pinpoint exactly what motivates me, I have an urge to create and make, my family knitted, painted, made clothes etc, so materials and the opportunity to watch and learn has always been there, but I also feel passionately that creating and making has a huge impact on health and well-being.

It’s become part of normal life for me to make and create, and when I do, I always feel better.


What constitutes a successful piece for you?


To quote Paul Bloomer “You have to know when to stop”. Reworking an idea too far can lose the sense of emotional connection that sparked the idea in the first place.

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