Dr. Emma Shercliff’s professional output

Collectively making thinking spaces using drawing and stitching

Conference – Published 24th Sep 15

Discussions about craft education inevitably necessitate investigation into processes of acquiring embodied knowledge. By extension, this leads to explorations of what this embodied knowledge enables practitioners to do or to know, and its relevance to particular contexts.

This paper discusses and compares examples of collective making and drawing for Textiles – specifically hand-stitching and mark-making – that make space for ways of knowing that question the emphasis on individuality currently prized in arts education. These kinds of shared making experiences could propose an alternative view which favours a mutually informed sense of multiplicity embodied in practice. In the context of an increasingly networked world, where collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches emerge as the norm, material practices that enable us “to think differently about our human situation … To understand how identities form, how relationships with others are actively invented… are essential knowledge if societies are to sustain themselves”, according to Paul Carter (2004: XII). I suggest that increased opportunities for collective making practices in craft and design education may help to enhance this important human dimension within sustainable craft and design practice more widely.

Three groups of undergraduate Textiles students at the Arts University Bournemouth participated in collective drawing workshops; question prompts to elicit conversation explored their responses to the drawings and their reactions to the experience. Comparisons between hand-stitching and mark-making gestures highlight similarities and differences between the two types of activity, and raise further questions concerning the ways in which drawing collectively might offer ways of knowing others. Observations so far seem to suggest that hands at work articulate forms of interaction perhaps known and understood by the body but not fully exploited as a learning tool.

Carter, P. (2004). Material Thinking: The Theory and Practice of Creative Research. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Publication details

Publication status unPublished
Refereed 1