Recognised as being one of the most important prizes for Textile Students in the UK, the Annual Weaver Incorporation Career Enhancement Awards, held on Monday 6 November at Trinity Hall, are now in their 37th year, and are presented annually by the Weaver Incorporation, one of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen.
The awards support the close relationship between Gray’s School of Art and the Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation and their shared commitment to support the growth of skills in the Scottish textile sector.
For the first time, the winning students will receive dedicated business support from the Weaver’s Incorporation, and a mentor to guide them with their future careers as emerging professionals.
This support will complement the cash prize, awarded to the winning students to secure experiences such as a study trip, equipment and materials, or additional training such as specialised workshops, which will help them with their future careers.
Winner of the 2023 prize is Ruadhan Curran from Fochabers in Moray. Eilidh Naysmith from Peebles won the runner-up award. The awards, which are judged on the basis of a submitted portfolio and interview, go towards helping the students fund an opportunity that will help them in starting their career.
Ruadhan, who is studying a BA (Hons) in Fashion & Textiles was presented with the J Gray Kilgour Medal, a certificate of excellence and a cheque for £800. Ruadhan created a project, entitled ‘A Figure of Fun’ and intertwined elements of clowns, cartoons, slapstick and accidental exposure of the body, through a knitwear lens. She used the financial assistance to buy her first knitting machine.
She said: “This award has been an unbelievable privilege to receive. Beyond the tangible benefits of the financial support, this award has given me a newfound confidence in myself, my work, and in my pursuit to become a knitwear designer. I cannot thank the Aberdeen Weavers enough for their support.
“As I’d like to have my own knitwear business in the future, I decided to invest my money into a knit machine, linker, and a wide variety of yarns. Being able to purchase this equipment has not only given me the means to produce and develop garments for this future business; but has also allowed me to practice and refine my technical abilities over the summer.
“The relationship between Gray’s and the Trades Association is such an invaluable one. For Fashion and Textile students like myself, the opportunity to pitch our projects to specialists within the industry is extremely significant; it gives us first-hand experience in conducting ourselves (and our work) professionally as emerging designers. By being actively involved with Gray’s, the Weavers and Tailors can also oversee the new generation of designers, supporting the future production of fashion and textiles within Aberdeen.”
Runner up, Eilidh Naysmith, who is in fourth year at Gray’s studying Fashion and Textiles, produced a project inspired by a ski trip to the snowy French alps.
She said: “I am so grateful at being runner-up for Weavers 2023. It has aided my confidence greatly and made me feel that I am good and know what I am doing.
“The link between the Weavers and Gray's is so strong and is amazing. It allows great opportunities for future designers like me and keeps the crafts alive. They are such an amazing group of people, all so interesting.”
Deacon of the Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation, Martin Wiseman, who hosted this year’s ceremony, said: “The quality of applications from 2nd and 3rd year Fashion and Textile students was again of a very high standard and demonstrates the attraction of Gray’s course to students aspiring to develop a satisfying career in the textile industry.”
Head of Fashion and Textiles at Gray’s, and the first female Burgess of Trade and member of the Weaver Incorporation, Elaine Gowans, also joined the celebrations. She said: “I am absolutely delighted that the awards presented to winner Ruadhan and runner up Eilidh, recognise the outstanding talent we have at Gray’s School of Art.
“The Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation Career Enhancement Awards are a testament to the close collaboration Gray’s has with the Trades Association and demonstrate Gray’s commitment to nurture and equip our students with the necessary skills to build their careers as emerging professionals.
“As a university, RGU is committed to fostering a vibrant culture of enterprise among our students and the communities we work with, and the close partnership we have with the Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation demonstrates how we are contributing to the economic and social regeneration of the region.”
Former Deacon of the Weaver Incorporation, Graeme Nicol, provided a brief history of the development of the award at the celebration and the winning students showcased their portfolios.
The awards mark farewell to Libby Curtis, Dean of Gray’s School of Art, who steps down as head after six successful years at Gray’s and over 30 years’ association with the University. Newly appointed Dean, Dan Allen, joined the celebrations along with members of the senior executive from Robert Gordon University.
Main image shows Career Enhancement awardees, (from left to right), runner up, Eilidh Naysmith, Martin Wiseman, Deacon of Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation (centre), winner, Ruadhan Curran (right). Image credit, Martin Parker Gatehouse Design Agency.
Gallery images show winner Ruadhan Curran (credit, Nicole Paterson GSA), runner up Eilidh Naysmith, (credit, Nicole Paterson GSA), image 3 shows winner Ruadhan Curran and Deacon of the Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation, Martin Wiseman,(credit Martin Parker, The Gatehouse), image 4 shows runner up Eilidh Naysmith (credit Martin Parker) and image 5 shows (left to right) Elaine Gowans, Head of Fashion & Textiles at GSA, with awardees and Dean of Gray's Libby Curtis (credit Martin Parker Gatehouse Design Agency.)