INTERVIEW: Jade Windley, June 2020 graduate in Fashion and Dress History

As part of a new end-of-the-year series we are launching, The Verse’s Alice Pierre had the opportunity to interview (via email of course, we didn’t break any social distancing rule) a few students who graduated this June 2020 from some of Brighton University’s arts programs. Today, we are talking with Jade Windley, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fashion and Dress History and accepted to talk to us about her time at Brighton University and her art.

Jade Windley

The Verse: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, your interests, how you got into illustration?

Jade: I’m from a small rural village called Handsacre. I am interested in contemporary sustainable fashion, ethics, globalisation and taxidermy. Both my parents are artistic and being around their creativity is what made me want to study Fashion & Dress History.

The Verse: What can you tell us about your time at the University of Brighton?

Jade: My time at Brighton University has been fun. The first and second year were better than the third. However, my third year was made bearable by having an incredibly supportive dissertation supervisor. 

The Verse: What can you tell us about your practice, where you get your inspiration from, what themes you work around, etc.?

Jade: The earliest examples of taxidermized specimens were found in the cabinet of curiosities in the 16th century, which reflected an increased scientific interest in the natural world. Taxidermy, however, did not reach its peak until the late 18th to 19th Century. This obsession with taxidermy did not last. With growing animal rights movements, by the 1950s to the early 1960s taxidermy was no longer fashionable. Recently, however, taxidermy has crept back into contemporary museum spaces with a new wave of ‘ethical’ taxidermists. It is for this reason that this dissertation questions contemporary attitudes towards taxidermy and the moral and ethical implications of it.

The Verse: could you tell us about your work for the Graduation show, and what you have worked on this past year?

Jade: My dissertation looked at the ethical paradox of contemporary taxidermy and questioned how artists are using taxidermy as a tool to represent current socio-political issues affecting society at large. I chose to interview Kate Clark, who creates human-animal hybrids, and to investigate the practice of fellow taxidermy artists Thomas Grünfeld and Claire Morgan.

The Verse: I think we can all agree this year has been quite strange, with the strikes and mainly lockdown, which resulted in online classes, as well as Graduation shows, and ceremonies being cancelled. What has it been like for you?

Jade: Strikes are unavoidable when the university doesn’t pay its staff what they deserve. I agree with why the staff decided to strike and obviously Covid- 19 is out of our control. It’s been hard to deal with both in the final year of my university experience. However, the lecturers have been super helpful and invested their time into helping us make the best out of a bad situation. 

The Verse: So, what’s next?

Jade: I mean, obviously it’s pretty impossible to feel any kind of positivity about entering the current job market, being a graduate during a pandemic is frightening. However, I would like to end working within the category of sustainable fashion. With the current global situation and evident climate change it is important for fashion graduates to concentrate their focus on to producing new ways of creating sustainable fashion. I have also started some individual creative projects such as hand-painting and upcycling vintage garments. 

To follow Jade on Instagram: 

Link to Jade’s Graduation Show on the University of Brighton’s University’s website:

All pictures curtesy of Jade Windley.

Alice Pierre

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