Material Developments – Lecture and Seminar Session

Roberts loom in weaving shed 1835

Roberts loom in weaving shed 1835

Shamees Aden - Amoeba Protocell Running Shoe

Shamees Aden – Amoeba Protocell Running Shoe

How have textiles developed and evolved since the Industrial Revolution? How have they shaped lives? How has technology changed the production of textiles? Can textiles be used as a tool for reading social history? Do all cultures interact with textiles in the same way?

This textile history course will analyse modern textile outcomes, focusing on technological, social and cultural developments. We will explore modern material developments from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. The course will analyse at a broad selection of textile pieces and practices from a variety of disciplines, including: fashion; interiors; craft; and architecture.
If you would like to explore modern material developments, join us Tuesday evenings at SGS College, Stroud.

Location: SGS College, Stroud

Date: Tuesday (10 weeks from 14th April)

Time: 18.00-20.00

For more information:

Experimental Textiles Workshop

Lydia Wooldridge Magnetism RESIN

Fancy creating innovative, mixed-media textiles? On the Experimental Textiles course at SGS college, Stroud, we will be combining traditional textile techniques with modern materials. Join us in the great material experiment!

During the five-week course we will be applying traditional textile techniques, like appliqué, embroidery and cutwork to a variety of modern materials, from plastics and non-wovens to rubbers and metals. You will learn how to create modern multi-media textile designs for fashion or interiors. All projects will be original thanks to your material and technique selections.

Location: SGS College, Stroud

Date: Thursday (5 weeks from 16th April)

Time: 18.00-20.00

For more information:

Godfried Donkor: The Currency of Ntoma

Godfried Donkor is a Ghanaian visual artist living and working in London. His artistic practice straddles continents and cultures as well as sociological, and historical spheres. The film project, The currency of Ntoma (2012) is a brilliant example of his transcultural artistic approach.

The currency of Ntoma presents Donkor’s own mother as a collector of valuable objects – Dutch wax prints. The project is made up of two films (one audio+visual, one visual) streamed simultaneously on opposing walls in a gallery space. For the purpose of the Cultural Threads symposium, the two films were streamed side by side.

The Currency of Ntoma

The Currency of Ntoma, Donkor, G (2012). Two-channel video projection. From Hollandaise, at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

For Donkor currency should not be considered purely financial. Currency simply means flow, whether that is the flow of knowledge, money, or goods. Flow references process and in any process there is a start and end position. By acknowledging Dutch wax textiles as the Currency of Ntoma, Donkor references the flow of goods, knowledge and wealth between the Netherlands and West Africa.

The Currency of Ntoma - filmstill

The Currency of Ntoma, Donkor, G (2012). Two-channel video projection. From Hollandaise, at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

The Dutch wax fabrics collected by Donkor’s mother and so many women in Ghana have truly transcultural identities. They are/were often designed in the Netherlands (based on traditional African designs) and exported to West Africa. Additionally, The Currency of Ntoma emphasises the importance of naming textiles for Ghanaian women. They name each design individually, so it remains rooted in their culture.

Godfried Donkor’s film, The Currency of Ntoma, reminds us all of the international value of textiles. 

Julie Ryder: Reflections on Charles Darwin’s South Pacific

Australian textile artist, Julie Ryder, analyses transcultural encounter in her research project, Generate/Regenerate. This project features in Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today (ed. Jessica Hemmings) and Julie Ryder presented her research at the Cultural Threads symposium held recently in London.

Generate/Regenerate is a project inspired by the Charles Darwin’s explorations of the South Pacific in 1831. Ryder’s project references the 18th and 19th century fascination with scientific exploration, specimen collection, and the ‘exotic other’.

Ryder’s design process resembles the specimen collection undertaken by Darwin during his explorations; she has meticulously hand-punched leaves (her specimens) before carefully applying them to tapa cloth in intricate floral compositions.

Generate: Emma Darwin

Generate: Emma, Ryder, J. (2008) Hand-punched leaves and Tapa cloth (detail)

Generate consists of a triptych of portraits of the Darwin/Wedgwood family. Each portrait references the intermarriage within the two families, as well as the interactions between the South American and British cultures.

Generate: Emma Darwin

 Generate: Emma, Ryder, J. (2008) Hand-punched leaves and Tapa cloth

Regenerate is the second part of the research project, in which Ryder transforms the Generate designs into repeat digital textile prints. The final designs are directly inspired by floral textile designs from the nineteenth century, whilst the restricted colour palette references renowned Wedgwood Jasperware pottery.

Regenerate: 1859

 Regenerate: 1859, Ryder, J. (2008) Direct digital silk print (detail)

Cultural Threads Symposium, Feb 2015

Over the next week, the SITselect blog will look at the projects discussed in the Cultural Threads symposium held at Central Saint Martins, London.

The Cultural Threads symposium marked the launch of the book, Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today (Hemmings, 2015). The publication draws on a wealth of contemporary art and design to address issues concerning cross-cultural encounter.

Cultural Threads Launch

Ahead of the Curve: new china from China

Ahead of the Curve
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery’s current exhibition showcases contemporary trends in ceramics and glass from China. Many of the exhibiting artists have connections with the city of Jingdezhen where porcelain has been made for over ten centuries. All of the twenty artists selected for the exhibition challenge traditional approaches to glass and ceramics.

For example, Wan Liya challenges perceptions of tradition and modernity in his piece, Birds’ Twitter and Fragrance of Flowers (2010). Liya’s work is inspired by the functional shapes of modern containers and the traditional enamel designs of 18th century imperial porcelain (see image below).

Wan Liya

Ahead of the Curve: new china from China complements Bristol Museum and Art Gallery’s world-class permanent collection of historic Chinese ceramics and glass, allowing visitors to compare renowned examples of ancient and contemporary work.

Ahead of the Curve: new china from China runs until 1 March 2015 with various curator led tours throughout January and February (see website for further details).

TIRAZ: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress

TIRAZ is the newly designed centre in Jordan for Widad Kamel Kawar’s collection of Arab dress. This is the most extensive collection of Arab textiles from the 19th and 20th century.

Widad Kawar Collection
Created over the course of a lifetime the collection includes more than 2000 traditional garments, including those for celebration, everyday and religious use. The variety of styles, colours, and patterns reflects 19th and 20th century Arab cultural affiliations and social structures, offering an insight into the cross-fertilisation between Jordanian, Syrian, Bedouin and other Arab cultures.

According to the TIRAZ centre website, ‘the Widad Kawar costume collection represents a story of human beings, and a form of history itself, woven in thread’.

The new website designed for the centre combines photographic images of the garments with computer-generated details of specific motifs.

Jaffa - photographic view
Jaffa - computer-generated motif detail

The Widad Kawar collection has been widely exhibited internationally and will hopefully visit the UK in the near future.

LYDIA WOOLDRIDGE: New Blogger for SITselect

Lydia studied Textile Design at Loughborough University; this included a year studying Communication Design at Hochschule RheinMain in Germany (2009-2013). Since then she has completed an MA in Modern Languages at the University of Bristol (Visual Culture pathway). Lydia’s research explores the use of textiles to express transcultural encounter. Her MA dissertation, Appropriations of the Oriental Carpet in Contemporary Art, analysed artwork that adopts the oriental carpet as its subject matter to engage with transcultural issues.

Maker in Focus Juliette Bigley

Juliette Bigley in her studio

Silversmith Juliette Bigley in her studio

We are delighted to announce that the next Maker in Focus, SITSelect’s partnership with the very lovely Guild at 51, will feature silversmith Juliette Bigley. Working in silver and base metals, her work is both sculptural and functional and involves creating relationships within the piece, between the pieces and between the pieces and the viewer.

In her artist’s statement, Juliette writes that ‘our lives are brightened and coloured by the objects with which we surround ourselves.’ That is certainly true of her fascinating vessels.

Below is a selection of images but to appreciate this work fully, head for the Guild at 51 between October 28th and November 30th.

Guild at 51, 51 Clarence St, Cheltenham GL50 3JT, 01242 245215; Open Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm

Conversational  Vases, stirling silver.

Conversational Vases. Sterling silver.

Conversational vessels, Water and Wine 3. Silver plate

Conversational vessels, Water and Wine 3. Silver plate

Split Bowls, Salt and Pepper A3. Gilded Britannia silver

Split Bowls, Salt and Pepper A3. Gilded Britannia silver

Lucky for One 3. Patinated brass with gold plate.

Lucky for One 3. Patinated brass with gold plate.

Small Vases. Sterling silver and patinated copper.

Small Vases. Sterling silver and patinated copper.


SITselect journal issue 1 2014 cover web

This post is a shameless celebration of SITSelect’s fabulous new initiative, Selected, a bi-monthly printed journal produced in celebration of makers, making and brilliant creative people who make our lives more beautiful and enjoyable.

Sebastian Cox in his workshop. Photography by Ben Wright

Sebastian Cox in his workshop. Photography by Ben Wright

Canvas Tent by Joseph Hartley for Trouble at Mill

Canvas Tent coat by Joseph Hartley for Trouble at Mill

Creation of Lewis & Wood Royal Oak wallpaper. Photography Mike Garlick

Creation of Lewis & Wood Royal Oak wallpaper. Photography Mike Garlick

People such as Sebastian Cox who makes very pleasing contemporary furniture from wood he coppices himself; glass artists Sally Fawkes and Richard Jackson, artist- weaver Jilly Edwards, designer maker Joseph Hartley, jeweller Mei-Ling de Buitlear, textile designers Amy Gair and Anna Gravelle, fabric and wallpaper makers Lewis and Wood, interior designers with a social conscience Nadia Oliver and Natasha Berri and collector of contemporary applied arts Charmian Adams.

Tufted, printed and laser cut fabrics by Anna Gravelle

Tufted, printed and laser etched fabrics by Anna Gravelle

Nadia Oliver and Natasha Berri

Nadia Oliver and Natasha Berri

Selected is available to buy via the website, and the following shops and galleries:


Bookshop at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour; Contemporary Applied Arts; Lewis and Wood Showroom Chelsea Harbour; Pedlars; The New Craftsman


Craft Study Centre, Farnham; Devon Guild of Crafts, Bovey Tracey; Lewis & Wood, Woodchester; Stroud Bookshop; The Guild at 51, Cheltenham


Touchstones Gallery, Rochdale


Makers Guild of Wales, Cardiff; Ruthin Craft Centre, Denbighshire

The Spring/Summer issue is already underway and sees us travelling from Stroud to Hamburg (and a few places in between) in search of truly creative and original makers, designers and thinkers. We will bring you bicycle creators and piano makers, prisoners who have found purpose through sewing, willow artists and textile designers who are pushing the boundaries of traditional craft, as well as pages of new talent and some rather special treats.

In the meantime, there is plenty to read in issue one, 10,000 Hours and we will be adding to your enjoyment with linked monthly features on-line. First up is a profile of innovative Manchester-based art/craft/design collective Makers Dozen.

We hope that you will get as much pleasure reading Selected as we did putting it together.