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Textiles (MA)

Isabel Fletcher

Isabel Fletcher is a textile artist who explores the way overlooked production offcuts can act as portals into the craft of their industry. Reframing disregarded offcuts as glimpses into the craft of making, she aims to increase empathy for possessions and encourage a reduction in consumption and waste. 

Working intuitively by responding to the nuanced properties presented by offcuts, Isabel’s sculptural works take on ambiguous forms. She is fascinated by materials and their transformation from 2D to 3D. Stitching, draping, gathering, tensioning, separating, layering, cutting, joining: these are processes Isabel utilises when critically interacting with her materials as she seeks to identify their three-dimensional possibilities. The abstract nature of the work allows the mind to wander and imagine beyond the now normalised systems of take, make, waste. Imagination is key.

With a practice rooted in craft but working across art and design depending on the project, Isabel has collaborated with brands such as Kvadrat and TOAST and has presented work in both solo and group exhibitions, including ‘Waste Age’ (Design Museum) and ‘Eternally Yours’ (Somerset House). She regularly runs workshops and completes commissions for galleries, interiors, and clothing. 

Top photograph by Jon Cardwell. Grid Drape 648. (Detail)

A 30 year old white woman with blonde hair sits with her hands crossed, wearing a blue cardigan and green earrings.

‘Industrial Offcuts: Freed of London’, is led by the sourcing of production offcuts from the ballet and theatrical shoe manufacturer, Freed of London.  When visiting the workshop for the first time, I was struck by the contrast between the well-worn nature of the workshop and the gleaming beauty of the finished dance shoes.  The maker of each component at Freed has perfected their craft - their bodies adapted and moulded to the rhythm of the repetitive processes.  The offcuts themselves retain traces of this craft, each leftover scrap contributing to a silhouette of the making process. 

Photographs of the sculptural works within the Freed workshop capture this sensitivity to materials and process, which forms an area of increasing development in my ongoing practice. 

Combining my workshop observations with the offcuts, I transformed the otherwise wasted remnants into ambiguous sculptural forms, each showcasing a different offcut type. I employ processes of cutting, layering, piecing, stitching, draping and gathering to manipulate or enhance the innate shapes, forms and properties presented by the offcuts. Stitch is my primary method of construction and mark-making as I join the fragmented materials and highlight the negative space within the offcuts. The expanded forms which emerge from the suspended pieces are designed to encourage questioning of materials and processes and a reassessment of consumption.

With special thanks to the whole team at Freed of London.

Install shot of 4 textile sculptures suspended within an industrial gallery space.
Industrial Offcuts: Freed of London. (Install shot)
Sketchbook page with image of blue packing crates and ballet shoe pieces next to a paper collage.
3 densely layered textiles cross over each other and are suspended from the ceiling of an industrial gallery space.
Satin Overlap. Suspended ballet shoe offcuts with hand stitch.
Sketchbook page with drawing of offcut web and blue stitches in pencil.  Next to this is a photograph of the offcuts.
Close up of the textile showing the dense layers, hand stitch and another work in the distance
Satin Overlap. (Detail shot)Suspended ballet shoe offcuts with hand stitch.
Draped textile suspended from the ceiling of a workshop with shelves either side.
Grid Drape 648.Pieced together ballet shoe offcuts, machine and hand stitch. Suspended within the Freed of London workshop. Photograph by Jon Cardwell.
Details of suspended textile.  Small rectangular pale pink satin fragments are stitched together with yellow, blue, red stitch
Grid Drape 648. (Detail)Pieced together ballet shoe offcuts, machine and hand stitch. Left photograph by Jon Cardwell.
Leather sculptural piece hanging within the centre of a workshop space with machinery and shoe making equipment.
Stamped, Multiple.Leather and suede sculptural form. Suspended within the Freed of London workshop. Photograph by Jon Cardwell.
Sketchbook page of linear drawing next to photo of close-up view of leather sculpture.
Photograph by Jon Cardwell.
Detail of yellow leather offcut with criss-crossing hand stitches in the stamped out areas, filling in negative space
Stamped, Multiple. (Detail)Photograph by Jon Cardwell.


Variety of offcuts (leather, suede, calico, satin, insole material) and thread.


Dimensions variable.