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Dr. Emma Shercliff

Senior Lecturer – Textiles

PhD (Royal College of Art, 2015); BA (Hons) Textiles and Fashion Design (1995); Fellowship of the HEA (2015); Supervising Postgraduate Research (SEDA, 2017)

After graduating I worked in Paris as a freelance textile designer and maker on design briefs for embroidery, print and knitwear; in textile and fashion forecasting; and on the production of installation works and prototypes. Organising creative ideation workshops with colleagues and running participatory community arts projects led me in to teaching. Having held visiting tutor positions on under- and post-graduate courses at various institutions in Paris, The Netherlands and the UK, I now hold a permanent position at the Arts University Bournemouth on the BA (Hons) Textiles course. I teach undergraduates, with responsibility for curriculum development at level 4 and student dissertations at level 6, contribute to Masters programmes, and supervise PhD students.

Hands-on making has always been at the heart of my work and I continue to make large-scale textile pieces, video, drawings and writings, influenced by combining the traditions of embroidery and plain sewing with the challenging particularity of collective projects. My PhD Articulating Stitch: skilful hand-stitching as personal, social and cultural experience explored the making of stitched textiles in social contexts. I am currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded Stitching Together research network project (2019-2020). I have published and exhibited work in France and the UK, but also have works in homes, community centres and other people’s memories.

My specialist knowledge and experience lie within stitched textiles, stretching from bespoke tailoring through the hand crafts of embroidery, plain sewing, braiding, patchwork and quilting, to CAD embroidery applications, manipulated textile surfaces and constructions, and the production of unique prototypes for contemporary art installations. I have worked on design briefs for embroidery, print and knitwear (Caulliez, Harris Wilson); in textile and fashion forecasting (Première Vision, Peclers, Promostyl, La Samaritaine); and on the production of installation works and prototypes (Studio Orta, Atelier Scarabee).

Through my professional practice and research, I have experience in leading workshops with a wide variety of participants: at a grass roots level encouraging inter-generational communication and exchange through local community initiatives; specialist creative ideation workshops with colleagues and students; and experimental, exploratory creative workshops used as research methods. Having completed a practice-based PhD, I am keen to embed an understanding of theories of design and making within studio practice, and develop research informed teaching practices.

  • The Textile Society
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

  • AUB Research Fellowship (2014–2015)

As an educator and practitioner-researcher I am interested in the contemporary values of hand skills. My research considers differences between implicit and explicit forms of knowledge and the meanings of hand-making within post-industrial digital cultures. For me, drawing and hand-stitching are contemplative acts, but also form the basis of my involvement in collective projects as shared social exchange. The particularities of these making processes inspire my interest in metaphor within creative textile practices, in expressions of identity and place, in the acquisition and transmission of embodied knowledge, and in experimental creative workshops as research methods. Following the completion of my PhD in 2014, I was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Arts University Bournemouth to explore the use and development of textile making workshops as creative research methods with the aim of developing a platform for critical dialogue amongst practitioner-researchers using these approaches in research contexts. Other research activities include: participation in the Association of Fashion and Textile Courses research events supporting networking amongst research students; contribution to departmental research methods seminars; peer review for JAR (Journal of Artistic Research).