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Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes is a Scottish born multidisciplinary designer, whose work focuses on storytelling through material. His work is human-led, tackling issues surrounding identity, heritage and experience. 

He completed his BA (Hons) in Textile Design at The Glasgow School of Art in 2018, specialising in Printed Textiles. During this time he produced work for Danish brand NN07 which featured in their AW17 magazine. 

Ryan has exhibited work at both New Designers in 2019, where he was chosen as one to watch by AVA CAD/CAMS, and Printeriors in Berlin after being shortlisted for the 2018 Fespa Printeriors competition.

Awards & Sponsorship:

The Haberdashers’ Company Scholarship (2019-2021)

The Leathersellers' Company (2021)

Ryan Hughes

Re-identify // A Long Time Deid

Identity. Heritage. Materiality.

Scotland's identity has always had strong ties to material; Isle of Harris Tweed, Dundee Jute, Bridge of Weir Leather and most famously, Tartan. Tartan plays a significant role in not only the country’s identity and landscape, but also the identity of its people. Tartan has been used to identify individuals throughout Scotland's history, by both their namesake and the region in which they came from. However, what does Tartan look like today? Does it still hold the same power? And if so, does it still clearly represent the culture it has been defined by? 

Embedded in storytelling, A Long Time Deid was a way of re-identifying with my ancestors, bringing their life stories to the forefront and questioning the role masculinity played in the working class jobs they inhabited.

The project explores narrative through Tartan, creating material portraits of my lineage and applying them to the body. The body for me is the vessel for the project, using uniforms as a way to question the masculinity rooted in the working class job roles of my ancestors. When I think of the body I don’t just think of the clothes that adorn it. For me its about the bodies we inhabit, the experiences we share and the stories we can tell.

The Shepherd. The Shipwright. The Tanner.
The Shepherd. The Shipwright. The Tanner. — Left: Charles Craig Hughes 1931-2009, Centre: George Irving Hughes 1905-1969, Right: Richard Hughes 1966- Present

The Shepherd. The Shipwright. The Tanner.

One of the aspects that I was drawn towards when researching my lineage was my ancestors working lives. A large majority of my ancestors would have been seen as working class, working in factories, tanneries, shipyards and farms. These roles for the time would have been predominantly seen as 'masculine'. This idea of masculinity is something that has arisen throughout my research, for example family trees are the male linage of a family and when it comes to historical working documentation, females are rarely documented.

This body of work sets out to explore the notion of masculinity in these job roles, focusing on The Shepherd The Shipwright and The Tanner. The aim was to strip the masculine qualities from the uniforms both through construction and material.

— Generations of Process — An adaptation of my family tree that strips my ancestors of their given identities and replaces them with a process that defines the lives they lived.
— A selection of works showing 'material portraits' through Tartan. Exploring textures, silhouettes, structures and weights, each work uses process as a way to create the essence of Tartan.

Generations of Process

Historically Tartans were designed using resources native to the areas of land people inhibited, and today its association lies with the clan system. Tartan as a material doesn’t have just strong ties to Scotlands culture and identity, it is also seen as one of the most political materials and has had endless connotations throughout its history.

For my approach to Tartan, I created Generations of Process which became the focal point of my creative process. Using processes that linked to the lives of my ancestors, I created 'material portraits' through Tartan that told the story of my families history. They reference my ancestors lives, my experience and the relationships I built with my relatives throughout the project.

— Generations of Material — An adaptation of my family tree that strips my ancestors of their given identities and replaces them with a material that defines the lives they lived.
— A Life on Paper — An accumulation of research that documents moments in the lives of my ancestors. Left: George Irving Hughes 1905-1969, Centre: John Hughes 1870-1933, Right: Janet Hughes 1861-1929

A Life on Paper.

To understand my own identity, both within my family and in my culture, I decided to gain a clearer understanding of the people who have shaped me, be that through relationship or by association. Through extensive research into my own family tree, I began to build relationships with my ancestors, learning in-depth about their life stories. This research went on to underpin the whole body of work, acting as the springboard for the story woven throughout and acting as the base for Generations of Material.

The Leathersellers' Company

The Haberdashers' Company