Students from Nelson and Colne College have had the opportunity to support the success of the inaugural British Textile Biennial held at locations across East Lancashire.

Throughout October, the creative arts and media students volunteered their time to help with the exhibitions, including the hugely popular Adidas Spezial exhibition at Blackburn Cotton Exchange; a showcase of designer T-shirts in Blackburn Cathedral; and leading textile artist Alice Kettle’s ‘Thread Bearing Witness’ spectacle at Gawthorpe Hall.

Alfie Payne, 18, who is completing the foundation art diploma at Nelson and Colne College, has a career aspiration to be a footwear or trainer designer.

The former Park High School student said: "I have a good collection of rare shoes and I have always loved the feeling you get from buying a new pair, so it was a privilege to get the opportunity to talk to such an esteemed shoe designer in Gary Aspden at the Adidas exhibition.

“Seeing all the shoes has given me further inspiration to create my own, and Gary took me round the exhibition showing me how he goes about creating a modern shoe influenced by trainer designs from the past."

Caitlin Loder-Helm, 17, a level 3 art and design student at the college, volunteered at the Alice Kettle exhibition.

She said: "Volunteering at the Biennial has been a good opportunity for me. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has helped me to improve my communication and my confidence."

The creative industries are the fastest growing part of the UK economy, and the sector accounts for one in 10 jobs across the UK.

In 2018, over 3.2 million people worked in the creative economy, and 87 percent of jobs within it are seen as ‘future proof’ – at low risk or at no risk of automation.

Foundation art diploma lecturer at Nelson and Colne College, Cerise Ward, said: “To have a high profile arts and culture showcase such as the British Textile Biennial on the doorstep has been a remarkable chance for our creative and media students to engage with some of the country’s leading and innovative textile artists, and to learn about the history and traditions of the textile industry in Lancashire."

The British Textile Biennial runs until Sunday 3 November.

More details can be found at