Name Jessica Hemmings Job Title Textile Critic and Writer / Programme Leader of Textiles, Winchester School of Art Qualifications Ph.D. Modern Lit, University of Edinburgh; MA Comparative Literature, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; BFA (Honors) Textile Design, Rhode Island School of Design Career History Riding horses rather than reading books was how Jessica Hemmings recalls spending her formative years, she was, she insists, a “terrible student” – university was certainly not on the agenda. What changed her mind she doesn’t reveal, but with a Ph.D under her belt and 10 solid years in education behind her it was clearly a seismic shift in atittude. An abiding love of textiles explains her decision to study textile design, but Hemmings knew her route would be different from her fellow students –“I knew I was not going to use textiles in the way they would”. As one by one they left to pursue careers Hemmings put her own skills into practice, “I learnt to write by weaving” she states enigmatically before explaining that for her the act of weaving correlates to the process of structuring an article. An MA and Ph.D followed in swift succession and the decision to avoid a break was a deliberate one; “everyone I knew who took time out found it almost impossible to return, life gets in the way... you get used to earning money. I learned to live without, but as your friends climb their own career ladders you do experience doubts,” Hemmings managed to hold her nerve, “ploughing” through her Ph.D – an “endless, enormous, intimidating task” making use of the drive and determination which are, she agrees, her greatest strengths. The rewards of a career in academia? “Watching students develop, reaching an audience or gaining exposure for an unknown artist: there is satisfaction in all these things.” Alternative academic paths Museum curator, conservator, archivist, editor, author, journalist, teacher
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