Interview with MiAL Artist Haylea Rush

Haylea had us all playing dress up during the October 2013 exhibition with her innovative educational cloaks (and accompanying activity sheets) which teach children about animal physiognomy. Having just completed her BA Illustration at Camberwell, Haylea is passionate about visual, hands on learning and taking it to the next level with her Egyptian final project.

Animal Variation and Physiology, Reversible Cloaks Various fabrics, felt, wire, Velcro, cotton webbing, thread and wadding Made to Order £350.00

How did you first get into Illustration?

During my A levels I had the opportunity to attend Saturday schools at Camberwell College, here I got the chance to try out the facilities that they had to offer such as the screen printing studios and experimenting with photography in the dark room.
These Saturday schools made me more aware of the work done by higher education students at UAL colleges. Attending these Saturday schools and being involved in creating work at  a higher level helped me build a more professional portfolio and got me  ready to apply for UAL.
Having completed the FDA Illustration course,  I am currently bridging over on to the BA Illustration. Through my time on the course I have found a real interest in visual learning and using illustration to teach and inform. I like how children interact with illustration and want to encourage building their imaginations through it.

You seem to be quite involved in creating visual learning aids, is this based in your own experience of education?

Being dyslexic I find that I prefer learning through the use of visuals and videos. I also believe that creating a fun learning environment is a method of teaching in itself, education can be conducted away from the more traditional and rigid teaching structures. I feel that this method of learning is a way of memorising the information that is fun and engaging.

What made you choose the fish, cow, grasshopper and chicken for your cloak designs?

The animals represent different animal types such as Mammals, Birds, Fish and Insect. I did initially plan to make 7 cloaks in total however within the time frame I was working within I did not have the time unfortunately. The aim behind them was to show children the variation between different species of living organisms and to act as a very basic introduction to comparative anatomy.

You have taken the cloaks into school to child-road test them so to speak, can you tell us a bit more about this experience?

Once my cloaks were created I took them in to a local drama school to not only test the fit of the cloaks but to test out the activity involved with trying them on. The children really enjoyed the activity and sticking labels and other detachable features such as udders to each other. At the end of my visit the children also gave me a list of animals that they wanted me to create.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am currently working on a life size 3D textile mummy that allows children to learn about the mummification process and give them a brief description about the history of Egyptian burials. I chose this topic by visiting the British museum and I also wanted to create something similar to the London docklands museum. This gallery teaches children about the London docklands through soft play something I aim to do with my mummy idea.

Find out more about Haylea on her MiAL Artists Page