A reflection on LOTO in Manchester

Today I had the pleasure of taking part in the Helen Storey Foundation project, ‘Life on the Outskirts’, based around analysing an archive of her work. Having gone into the project not entirely certain of what to expect or what it would entail, I came away feeling very inspired and driven. What was particularly interesting about the archive was the comparison in reactions and aspects between ourselves as a group and Helen herself. Looking simplistically through timelines, information and exhibitions highlighted the contrasting growth of Helen firstly as a young fresh designer and how she developed into the giving and inspiring individual of today. It put into perspective how life has its obstacles and that the future is forever an exquisite mystery. As Helen states, “No obstruction, no growth”, a poignant phrase for me, recognising that nothing is definite and I still have much more to develop and learn within my creative practice.

Throughout the presentation, we were given an insight into Helen’s current work, which was clearly a favourite of hers as well as the group. Giving to others and learning from them is at the heart of Helen’s practice, this is very clear within this project as Helen travelled to Syria to work with women within a refugee camp. Having braved many terrifying and horrific experiences the women sought help, not pity. What I found particularly fascinating about this experience was the inevitable obstacles that occurred during the planning of a project. Cultures are very different, taking to experiences very differently and from an outside perspective it is difficult to imagine the struggles of a life where you have been taken completely out of your realm/understanding or society. Nevertheless people are fundamentally the same. We are all subject to the same human condition; we seek guidance, love and sanctuary. The Helen Storey project seeks to overcome these traumatic losses by weaving hope, imagination, creativity and encouragement to fabricate a confident and contented individual. I felt the appearance of confident young girls on the catwalk was particularly poignant. They had taken something that they had personally made and given it further meaning. They had put something of themselves in the object giving it life and vitality. Their confidence was best described by Helen as “look at me, not my past, but my future”.


Georgia Hardman, 2nd Year, BA (Hons) Textiles in Practice (MMU)

12th October 2017