Clothing made with ocean waste, jackets tailored from landfill material and a fire extinguisher reborn as a lamp are among the exhibits in a new Scottish exhibition showing how the design industry could help combat climate change.

Old fishing nets, discarded fashion and even hospital curtains have been repurposed to explore how materials might be re-imagined.

The exhibition is the work of staff and students from Heriot-Watt University’s world-renowned School of Textiles and Design in the Scottish Borders, whose alumni include the late fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood.

The explorations will literally ‘metamorphose’ with a new display every two weeks, until March 31.


Polished Pieces includes items made with recycled or regenerated materials while Deconstructed, opening on  January 31, explores sustainable methods of designing and making products and garments while New Ideas and New Resources, starting on February 14 and 28, will look at alternative ways of viewing waste materials and the opportunities this offers to designers.

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The final display, Speculations, opening on March 16 will explore new areas of research and interest, and will include workshops that encourage local communities to rethink the nature of waste material.

Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, Centre Director for The Great Tapestry of Scotland said: “We’re delighted to be the first to host the important Metamorphosis exhibit in partnership with one of the most prestigious textile and design schools in the world.

“There is only one earth and as we all begin to see the devasting impacts of climate change, we must all do all we can to inspire and equip everyone to do all they can to protect it and the communities in which we live.”

The fashion industry produces more than 8% of greenhouse gases and 20% of global wastewater annually, according to the United Nations.

Dr Lucy Robertson, Assistant Professor of Design at Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles and Design, said: “Understanding material qualities and properties is imperative for designers. “Although the ultimate aim is to eliminate waste, a lot can be learned from using what we as society class as waste within creative projects. 


“This exhibition asks us to reflect on how we view waste as a material – and reconsider its value.”

Exhibitors in the show include Adele Davidson, a fourth year Design for Textiles student at Heriot-Watt who specialises in knitted textiles and has used ocean waste to create fashion garments. 

Second-year fashion students Bethany Whitaker, Mariana Finlyson, Freya Gillanders, Caragh Welsh and Sasha McAulay found, deconstructed and remade tailored jackets that were destined for landfill.

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Qinrui Yang, a final year fashion student from China, used salvaged waste wool in clothing designs based on her childhood experiences as a twin.

Dr Euan Winton, an Assistant Professor of Design at Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles and Design, is exhibiting a discarded fire extinguisher that he has transformed into a distinctively graphic lamp. 

Other exhibitors include Kenoteq, a Scottish clean tech spin-out from Heriot-Watt University that has developed a brick made from recycled construction waste.

Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design dates back to 1883, when classes in weaving, dyeing and chemistry were introduced to train workers for the local textiles industry.

The exhibition opens at The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre in Galashiels on Tuesday.