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Mother and daughter reunited in creative project embracing grief

Mother and daughter reunited in creative project embracing grief

A University of Wolverhampton student has been briefly reunited with her mother in the final year of her Textiles and Surface Pattern degree after creating a project that embraces grief. 

Kate Hughes, 46 from Tettenhall Wood, is studying in the University’s School of Art at its City Campus in Wolverhampton where her mother, Patricia Knights, who passed away in January 2021 at the age of 73, had also studied Graphic Design in the late 1960s. 

When Kate was helping to clear out her parents’ house, she found her mother’s art portfolio from when she was studying at the School of Art and she has incorporated some of her design work into her final year project, acknowledging the grief she felt after losing her mother to Parkinsons and Dementia and recognising her for her achievements. 

Patricia had studied for a Foundation Degree in Art and a Graphic Design degree before moving to London to work in the publishing industry for leading magazines. Although she moved back to the Midlands to start a family, she was creative throughout her lifetime, studying for a course in Textiles and creating home furnishings and interior design for their childhood home. 

Kate said: “Looking through her work after she passed, I realised I was going through quite a significant grieving process – and this was exacerbated by the difficult times during the pandemic.  I found it very difficult to focus and to get past it – I think that the project chose me.  It was an outlet for my grief, and I found comfort in drawing and painting things that gave me solace. 

I wanted my project to be a bright, colourful collection but I knew I had a blanket of grief covering me. My mother was a fantastic role-model for me, and even though she was diagnosed with Parkinsons in her late 50s, she continued to paint and be creative.  I have always been creative however I never fully embraced it until I enrolled. I had worked in a variety of none-creative roles and had a family myself, I took a leap of faith and enrolled on an art and design access course at the Adult Education College before deciding to study for a degree at the University.” 

Kate’s project is a collection of textile prints and artwork which delves into the world of grief and existentialism, scrutinising who we are and asking questions about why we are here – but embracing that feeling and creating from it, allowing it to flow out rather than keeping it inside. 

She said: “At first, I was a bit apprehensive as it was quite emotional. She would 100% be proud of me – she gave up so much for me and my brother and including her work in my work has not only acknowledged my grief but acknowledged all that she has achieved in her lifetime.” 

Kate is looking to start a new career as a designer in the textile industry when she graduates. 

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


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