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Dana Finnigan Wins Scottish International Scholars

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Dana Finnigan Wins Scottish International Scholarship

26 year-old Dana Finnigan is the 2007 recipient of the Scottish International Scholarship. The award will see the Massey design student leave Lewis’s in Tawa for a Masters in Design Practice at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art. The Scholarship Scheme is part of the Scottish Executive’s Fresh Talent initiative to attract high-calibre entrepreneurial postgraduates to Scotland. Dana can now switch from convincing customers to take risks with curtain styles, to studying alongside an elite group of young international designers.

Sandy Heffernan, Head of Massey University’s Textile Department, believes the award will be immensely valuable. “We’re so isolated down here, even with the web, and there’s no substitute for direct experience rather than observing from afar. Many schools here in NZ are trying to mimic what the Glasgow School of Arts is doing in postgraduate studies. It’s very ahead of its time in terms of working with leading designers, using the latest technology, and building a wide appreciation of design in many forms. She’ll have access to amazing libraries and databases for her research."

While many of her design school peers live in the computer labs, Dana is proud that she’s “not one of those digital kids”. She likes to get her hands dirty with real cutting, pasting and printing – not just keyboard shortcuts. She’s attracted to the flaws and errors of textiles: “The mistakes are what makes it great. Fabric by nature is not perfect - with printing and weaving one metre will never be the same as the next, and it’s those imperfections that catch the eye”.

This craft-based approach is strong in Scotland, where the textiles sector has survived in the face of competition from India and China by focusing on high-end quality rather than massmarket production.

A youth exchange to Belgium opened Dana’s eyes to the richly-patterned world of fabrics.

While living in Antwerp, she worked at a vintage/recycled clothing store in the fashion district, surrounded by the likes of Dries van Norten, Dirk Bikkembergs and Ann Demeulemeester.

Her bosses would return from overseas bargain-hunting trips laden with scraps and offcuts to re-purpose into avant-garde clothing, and this cross-pollination of styles and ideas is a theme Dana now brings to her own work.

“The textile industry is a great model of international co-production and collaboration – we get fabric woven in Scotland, printed in England and then cut and sewn in New Zealand. This award will mean I get exposed to new trends and techniques in the UK, and when I come back home I’ll have the skills and contacts to head up my own studio. I’d also like to tutor, so I can share the knowledge I’ve gained."


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