Our Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is divided into four curriculum areas: 3-Dimensional Design and Architecture; Fashion and Textiles; Fine Art and Graphic Communication Design. Each of these areas is divided into pathways. For the past academic year, Nusra Nijimbere has been studying on the Textiles pathway. Here, she tells us about her final project ‘N1: ‘Endz’ is where the heart is’ and the inspirations behind her work.

Can you tell us about your final project for the Foundation show?

I’ve lived in Hackney all of the 19 years of my life, whereas my family of Burundi descent have moved around quite a bit. Balancing my Burundi and British identity within such a unique community has meant I’m constantly re-visiting what British identity is, and whether it even matters at all. Anybody who has been to Hackney knows it is one of the most lively, current and opinionated places in London – it isn’t for the faint hearted, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Nusra Nijimbere, N1: ‘Endz’ is where the heart is, 2018

Probing and re-interpreting ideas of home and worship pushed me into an exploration of how we relate to our environments and vice versa. So I began using branded items and everyday objects to create a narrative about Hackney’s diverse culture. This allowed me to find the social and political links that give oxygen to my community. The work spans 2D, 3D and video, and is full of literal and contextual references. I hope it captures Hackney’s essence and gives people an insight into the communities within it.

Nusra Nijimbere, N1: ‘Endz’ is where the heart is, 2018

Tell us a bit about your practice in general and your interests – what disciplines you tend to work in?

Working with textiles has really pushed me to consider the detail in everything — in both design and concept. This has allowed me to blend different processes together and use materiality as a focal point. It’s amazing how two people can be fixed within the same environment and hold a different relationship to the same subject. This can be expressed physically as two complete opposites. Because my research covers a spectrum of information, I try to not limit myself on how I investigate and translate it.

It sounds like your work is very research-led – how does this research informs your final work?

It helps me create a visual story of what my subjects are trying to say, so that when I translate it into physical creations, I can sustain the point of focus. I try to do this by using photography to narrate the liveliness of Hackney and allowing it to inform the contextual detail in my work. That’s how certain elements, such as colour and motifs, are sustained, amplified or transformed in the transition from 2D to 3D. Because I tend to go down a conceptual route, I try to make sure my research is concentrated but not restrained.

Can you tell us a bit about how your work has progressed over your year at Central Saint Martins? Are there any particular resources or processes you have taken to?

My time here has allowed me to develop new creative skills that I wasn’t exercising before the course. Central Saint Martins has given me the perfect opportunity to find out how I can experiment in a way that is still authentic to me. I have taken to photography and sculpture a lot more over the year, and I’ve used it to push how I communicate. I’ve also learnt how to present my work in different exhibition spaces.

Nusra Nijimbere, Fruit Machine, 2017

Have there been any particular briefs or projects that you really enjoyed working on?

Fruit Machine was the first project that really pushed me into creating something that was fun, and which I didn’t take too seriously – this is also when I started experimenting outside of preconceived ideas of what constitutes “textiles”. It was the perfect combination of seriousness and humour, which ultimately is the reality of everyday occurrences – for those who live in Hackney but also across the world.

What are your plans for after Foundation?

I’ll be studying BA Textiles at Central Saint Martins this year and experimenting within different fields of the creative industry. I don’t want to limit myself just yet, I’d like to see how far I can push my mediums and see where else I can expand textiles into different categories.

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