Silver Crow Project

Uni Year Three - Round Up

(TL;DR Chronic back pain, lockdown, dealing with working from home. Happy with my mark but have deferred my MA until next year to focus on my health.)

Hello everyone - this is a bit of a belated post recapping the final year of my uni course in BA(Hons) Illustration & Animation though the University of Creative Arts - Canterbury.

Where to begin. For new readers of my blog I was a mature student now aged 43. I started this process aged 38 by doing my Maths GCSE (least said about that the better) with Kent Adult Education then at 39 progressed to the Art & Design Access to Education with the UCA but at their Rochester campus. This is a kind of intensive one year program where you do various modules combining Fine Art, Fashion & Textiles, 3D, Visual Communication and Photography. You do it alongside and in the same class as the people doing the longer Foundation course. Then I deferred my uni place for a year while Mister Bear was still half days at nursery and did my English GCSE as an evening class.

Finally at 40 I started the degree I had wanted to do ever since I had been at school the first time round. I left aged 15 because my art teacher said I would never get into a college or uni and so I thought - why stay? It was all I wanted to do and so I left to do a YTS (remember those?) in retail. And that combined with some pretty crappy and mentally abusive relationships - destroyed my confidence in art. I didn't return till my 30's thanks to my family and friends. So much support especially from Craig and my kids telling me to pursue my dreams. 

In the cyanotype room with my friend Andi (Yr2) 

I have recapped years one and two in previous posts - year two was my best by far. My tutor really 'got' me. He made me realise that something I thought was my weakness - my inability to settle on one medium, so easily distracted by new techniques - was actually my strength and makes me versatile. I discovered that all my art, even before uni was tied to  life, death and nature. Which I know comes as no surprise to many but it really did to me. I was encouraged to pursue my growing interest in textiles and print and I just generally feel like I flourished.

Year three. Well. I struggled. I was born with a chronic condition called Scheuermanns Disease. It affects my spine. During all the years at uni - I have progressively been putting on weight - around 6 stone in total. Slowly, slowly. It has played havoc, as you can imagine, on my spine. Within a few weeks of starting year three I was in debilitating pain. It got to the point I either wasn't going in or if I was I was strapped up in a back support and must have looked a right miserable sod. My two new tutors would tell me to get other students to help me in the print room. One in particular wanted me to go large with my work. I never did ask other students - third year is hard enough without someone coming asking to take your time away from your own work. Plus going large, covering entire walls, was not where I wanted or was able to go at that point. Maybe one day but not now. I want my work to be accessible to people more than galleries. I just tried to adapt what I was doing and ended up back with my love of monoprint and cyanotype because it was low impact but could still be used within textiles. My dissertation tutor was brilliant and so patient when I couldn't make it in to tutorials because just the mere action of getting two trains to campus was agony at times.

Then Covid19. 

I was lucky. I had already settled on cyanotype and eco printing as my project. All of which I could do at home. Many weren't so lucky and I feel so sorry for the people that relied on the specialist equipment and software that is at the university. I just adapted my project to be about documenting my surroundings, my tiny back garden and the weather rather than what I had planned to do - documenting my local area - the beach and fields etc. I wanted to show that site specific art needn't be art made to stay on a certain site but could be made OF the site and taken away - time capsules documenting seasons and surroundings.

Carmen Wing - Nature Cyanotypes on Fabric & Paper

I incorporated Silver Crow - I have wanted to do a proper project on her for years. So I did many, many, many, many prints. I even managed to develop a cyanotype by the light of the pink supermoon. I was so chuffed at that one. Talk about documenting an event. I incorporated some of the smaller pieces into a textile doll. Which I am still very proud of. All the textiles work - sewing, learning about materials, I have taught myself. Even the cyanotype - apart from one short workshop. I have taught myself - from books, from youtube, experimenting - oh how I love experimenting. I have even now taught a cyanotype workshop myself. With my friend. Can you believe it? Me! I loved it - was pooping my pants but I loved it and am so appreciative of the local art group for inviting me to do it.

Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Over Lino Print/ Wet Cyanotype and Rust on Fabric

So yes - I was super proud of my final piece. The tutors not so much. Oh well - can't please everyone. But I didn't include all my prints in my submission so I don't think they realised they were also part of my hand-in. My own fault... in-between being in pain, on high meds and just not thinking - I only submitted the doll. Thinking about it now - I should have hung them all up as I would have done in the final show had we been able to do it and posed the doll in front. Might have even been the large scale they wanted originally.
Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Textile Art Doll
Complete with wonky spine, like me ;)

I have to give kudos to the uni for the speed in which they got the course online when lockdown started. My daughter who is at the college next door didn't even have one zoom call for the entire lockdown. We still had online tutorials very regularly. That was impressive.

So - I came out of the uni with a 2.1 degree - thank goodness for acing it in year two as that helped me a lot I think. I applied for a Masters in Printed Textiles for Fashion & Interiors within the same uni at the Rochester campus. One of the tutors had come over before lockdown for a screen print on fabric workshop and she had suggested I go over, look at the course and visit the classrooms. It looked amazing - and I realised I had inadvertently used the course leader as one of my artist research subjects for my final project! Ha. I got accepted - they even seemed to like Silver Crow doll and called my print work painterly! YUS! Validation for my baby. I got funding and just waited for my back to get better.

And waited. 

And waited.

And it didn't. 

So now - I have deferred my place until at least next year. I am going to work on my weight and my fitness levels and my art in the hope I will get to do that course... and maybe, just maybe we will have learnt how to deal with Covid by then too.

In a way I wish I had done Fashion & Textiles as my degree. A friend from the Access kept telling me I should. It was the word Fashion. It put me off. I live in jeans and slobby jumpers. I was intimidated - not going to lie. I know now I could have focussed on sculpture and interiors but it also took this degree to make me realise that is the way I want to go. So I will always be grateful. If I had done another course I never would have met the people I did on this one and I have made some amazing friends and met some seriously talented people. I really do miss it.

Thank you for reading.

Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Textile Art Doll


  1. Ah that's a fabulous catch up hun, you have done amazing well not only to deal with Covid-19 and all the issues that come with that but dealing with your own health issues and a 2.1 is fantastic - you did good!

    I hope you can make this year the year of reclaiming your health so you can achieve your MA - I believe you can - so in my book you can!

    Much love and hugs as always

  2. I saw this on the bus home from work but saved reading it for the big screen. I am so sorry your back has been so awful but really chuffed at your degree result, and hope when you do your MA it will be equally as impressive. Great to hear from you. Stay safe and good luck with the weight and the back! Hugs (virtual will have to do for now) xx

  3. I'm so intensely proud for you and the amazing stuff you've achieved. Long time fan! I think you're right about your final submission - the more the merrier as far as a collection of works is concerned. The body of work you created for your final entry was - and is - highly impressive, fascinating and wonderfully, captivatingly accessible. Silver crow - incredible.I await with baited breath the next step in your journey. Any support I can offer would be my honour. You and your work are a joy, an inspiration and a delight. You are Awesome.


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