How Camille turned obstacles and
challenges into inspirational project

All of our graduating students have been on a long journey to produce their final major projects – from coming up with the initial idea to executing the final product. But for textiles graduate Camille Barnett, that journey has been considerably more different.

16 Jun 2022

Above, one of Camille's digital designs, as a designed item, on a model and close up.

Owing to major spinal surgery, Camille had to drastically change course with her original idea and has had to make significant adjustments to her final pieces, moving into the digital realm to create her work.

Camille was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2017, and surgery to correct the 40-degree curvature in her spine was booked for the start of 2020. But Covid put the brakes on that plan, and she was unable to have the operation until February – just months before her final project had to be completed.

Camille Barnett

“After my surgery, I realised how much it was going to impact my life. I was proud of myself and everything I had gone through and that I had come out the other side so much better off,” she said. “I was struggling to decide what I was going to do for my final project, and I came to the decision to look at my experience in a reflective way and admire everything that my body had gone through and almost ‘romanticise’ it through my textiles project.”

Camille used imagery of her own body as inspiration for her designs.

“I had always found it slightly weird looking at MRI scans and X-rays of myself as I had slightly desensitised myself from it and didn’t look at the images and think ‘that’s me’,” she said. “Creating my textile prints has made me appreciate my body and I can stop and look back at my work and think that pattern there is my rib cage and not a lot of people are able to do that.

“I would like people to be inspired when they look at my work, in a creative way and in a personal sense. If showing my personal journey through my textiles can impact someone then I would feel very proud and I hope that it can make someone else feel empowered to get creative with the struggles that they’re facing.”

X-rays of Camille's own spine, pre- and post-surgery provided the inspiration for her designs

Camille not only faced the challenge of creating work while in recovery but also adjusting her ways of working due to Covid – and it’s sparked fresh interest in what to do next.

“The pandemic hit at the end of my first year, so from the start, my course was rather disrupted, but the skills I learned from not being able to work in the studio were very beneficial to me and changed my creative path. Working from home meant that I had to adapt my work style and alter the outcomes of my prints, I started to work digitally and used Photoshop to produce digital prints.

“After the lockdowns were reduced, I was able to get back in the studio, but with my upcoming surgery taking place in my final year, I planned ahead to create as many physical samples as I could. When it came to the second project of my third year, I had lots of inspiration to take from all the physical prints I created, and I knew I would have to work digitally due to my recovery. Coming out of hospital, I was more confident in the work I could produce digitally as I had enjoyed working in that style over Covid.

“If I hadn’t learned all the digital skills that I did over lockdown, I think this final digital project would have been a lot more difficult for me, so I'm grateful for the altered paths that I had to take throughout my course.”

“My tutors and technicians have always made sure that I had exactly what I needed and have also helped me explore different creative paths - they’ve been happy to help me try new things. Leading up to my surgery and throughout my recovery, they were very supportive too.”

Having been with UCA of for five years now – having done both a diploma and foundation course at UCA Epsom before starting her degree in Textiles Design, Camille is now looking to stick around a little longer.

“I hope to be part of the MA Digital Fashion course at Epsom next year,” she said. “I’m excited for my next journey with UCA and I hope that I get to have a new start in my career after I’m finished there.”

See Camille’s work and the final major projects of all of our graduates at the various Grad Show Takeovers at our campuses through June and July – find out more and dates at - or visit digitally at