“I'll be wearing a mustard yellow scarf” Walsh clarifies to me over text, to which I reply “Er... I'll be looking like a tramp”. I'm sure it isn't hard to believe that, on a freezing early December morning, I am not at my best. Despite this, Jessica Walsh is looking bright and not-at-all downtrodden by the weather, or the prospect of talking to me for an hour.
“Organised, creative, competitive, determined, hard working” are the five words Walsh conjured, after a pause for thought, when I asked her to describe herself. It's unsurprising that she found the question difficult, when an hour's conversation revealed a dynamic individual with many strings to her bow.
Co-head of the local branch of the charity SKIP in Southampton, Walsh confessed to being “freakishly organised” in order to juggle fund raising pub quizzes and cake sales with student life. The second year print textiles student commutes from Southampton to the Winchester campus to get a taste of her home in Canterbury alongside the student vibe of Portswood and Bedford Place. The cobbled streets and winding terraces of Winchester's town centre allow for a relaxed atmosphere to study, whilst Southampton's large student union allows Walsh to participate in the caving society. “It's a completely different world: completely natural: untouched” she reminisces of the six caves she has explored, only to explain her intention of using the rustic experience in her next textiles project. A strong contrast it will be, I'm sure, to the sultry evening hues of her latest exhibition. Compared to the bland daytime interpretations around her, Walsh has met the brief with sophistication and an eye for colour.
But If Walsh is short of anything, it's not experience. Her involvement in SKIP presented the opportunity to visit Madagascar for six weeks to educate the locale in health awareness and climb mountains with only three litres of water: as you do. It's likely that this endurance and patience was cultivated from a young age; “I got into charity at around year 10”, she explains. “My old school raised £18,000 throughout the year when I was charity representative” - an impressive feat for a school numbering over one thousand pupils.
With an ambition to start her own charity, and an interest in events management, Walsh is intent on keeping her options open, although the short term sees her aiming for internships over the summer and a Masters degree after graduation. I asked her what she does in between working towards these goals; “my job involves marking maths papers for a company called KUMON” - no, that involves work, I clarify. “Monopoly?” she laughs, as if the concept of free time is not one Walsh is acquainted with, “but seriously, I just sleep and spend time with my boyfriend”. However, the stereotype of a lazy student is completely misplaced when considering the hive of activity surrounding this confident young woman, who I'm sure will be successful in the creative or hospitality industries she chooses to work in.