Darning Newham: NewVIc Textile Design Competition

NewVic Sixth Form, Prince Regent Lane, Plaistow, London E13
April 2021

About this record

Darning Newham collaborated with NewVIc art and design students to create  a textile print for Newham Heritage Month 2021. Students were asked to research, collage and  finalise a textile design that explored the history of Newham and encouraged students to reflect  on how women contribute to modern day Newham and/or to their own lives.

Students were from Btec and A level Art & Design courses and spent a number of weeks working on the design brief and responding to research.

Katie May Anderson  and Memunatu Barrie the co-creators of Darning Newham, met at NewVic sixth form and  studied Textiles A-level from 2014 to 2016. Therefore collaborating with NewVIc sixth form  students and staff was an essential part of their NHM2021 project, as they sought to give back to  the place where their own creative practices had started. 

The pair were both heavily inspired and guided to pursuit their careers by teachers Charlotte  Amore, Hilary Blackburn and former NewVic teacher Louise West. Both benefitted from this  collaboration as they reconnected to these influential figures, as well as providing them with new  connections such as current NewVIc teacher Jennifer Crouch and the current students cohort.  

The design competition for NHM2021 was created to inspire NewVIc students to pursue creative  careers as Katie and Memunatu were themselves inspired through their time at the sixth form. The  competition also gave current students the opportunity to promote their creative practice, receive  feedback from the Darning Newham team and have the chance to win a £250 art shop gift card to  help fund their passion.  

Overall, a total of 31 compelling and bold design entries were submitted by NewVIc students,  showcasing the sheer talent of creative young people in Newham. The Darning Newham team  were extremely impressed by NewVic students design entries, as every entry demonstrated deep  personal reflections on the themes of family, faith, politics and location. The research, passion and  overall skillset was inspiring to witness from the students, which was one of the many highlights  of the Darning Newham x NewVIc Textile Design Competition. 


This has been a really interesting and enriching experience for our students. The project encouraged them to think about their own families and lives and the immense contribution they make, not only to them personally but in a wider sense and as a whole. Many found they really enjoyed researching the history of the borough and finding out about the different lives lived here, whether they were celebrity or overlooked essential workers. It was a great opportunity for them to reflect on how as young adults they can contribute to the community in the future as artists and designers.

From the amazing 31 entries, five designs were shortlisted. All show how diverse the entries were, with the same starting point each student showed a clear personal viewpoint and style. These five designs were extremely strong contenders for the prizewinner. They all show strong composition skills and a unique reflection on local heritage and the importance of women’s contribution to Newham. With such strong entries choosing a winner was difficult, but it was clear that one design showed an outstanding sense of composition, colour and reflected the design brief set to

The winner of Darning Newham x NewVIc Textile Design Competition, winning a prize of £250, is Arooj Arooj ! Their design combines historical Newham with a bold modern style, reflecting the timeless message of justice, community and place. Arooj’s work will be developed into a textile print and presented alongside the other final outcomes of the Darning Newham project in a film to be released by Darning Newham to mark the end of NHM May 2021.

“The inspiration behind my collage came from “the matchstick girls” who were women and girls from the nineteenth century sacrificing their health by exploitation and labour. I hinted at this crucial influence with the echoed image of the girl and “justice” underneath her. I also chose to explore the colour symbolism aspect of grey tones and red hints, visualising anguish within the period. I try to create thought-provoking works that can be somewhat relatable alongside other issues too.” – Arooj Arooj

Design entries by Arif Ali, Branham Kasalako, Kiera Robinson-Brown, Tahira Ahmed and (below) Arooj Arooj

The individual feedback from Katie and Memunatu to the students was the highlight of the project; their encouraging critique was inspiring and supportive to each student. By taking part in the project the students received a fresh perspective on their work from designers, this gave them an invaluable insight into university and future design careers in the creative industries.” – Charlotte Amore, NewVIc Art and Design Teacher

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