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Making, Knowing and Being Made: Hand-Stitching Beyond Representation

Section of a Book – Published 28th Mar 19

The phenomenon of a making process can sometimes be taken for granted by both uninitiated and skilled makers. Paying close attention to these phenomena can reveal insights into a particular kind of heightened interaction with one’s environment. Heightened, because the focus of all attention—mental, physical and emotional—is on the engagement with materials, tools and the space of work, and particular because it brings to the fore a certain quality of interaction: an interaction that shapes both the artefact being made and the maker of the artefact.

This chapter explores this relationship between maker, materials and things being made to outline a place for tacit knowledge within the wider landscape of non-representational thinking. Non-representational theory celebrates the varied degrees of understanding the world made possible through different types of engagement with materials, tools and environments, but this does neither help us understand why some material encounters matter more to certain individuals, nor why some people are more adept than others at working with them to produce artefacts. Here, I draw from anthropologies of making to discuss tacit knowing as a mutually moulding encounter between maker and material; I use examples from auto-ethnographic accounts of hand-stitching to examine what knowing in practice feels like, and then point out the significance to this process of subjective agency to suggest that an enriched understanding of how making matters must, therefore, consider the orientation of human “experience-in-practice” (Barrett, 2015).

Barrett, E. (2015). Materiality, language and the production of knowledge: Art, subjectivity and indigenous ontology. Cultural Studies Review, 21, pp. 101–119.

Publication details

Publication status Published
Refereed 1
Publication title Non-Representational Theory and the Creative Arts
Author(s) C. P. Boyd & C. Edwardes (eds)
Publishers name Palgrave Macmillan
Identification number DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-5749-7_5
Number of pages 16
Page range 69–84
ISBN 978-981-13-5748-0