Fashion and Textiles

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)

Biography

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.

Professional practice

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.

Professional memberships

  • The Textile Society
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Awards

  • AUB Research Fellowship (2014–2015)

Grants

  • AHRC Research Networking Grant: Stitching Together (Principal Investigator) (2019–2020)

Research Specialism

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 a means to prompt shared creative and social experiences. 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. My PhD Articulating Stitch: skilful hand-stitching as personal, social and cultural experience (awarded 2015) explored the making of stitched textiles in social contexts. I was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Arts University Bournemouth (2014-15) to explore the use and development of textile making workshops as creative research methods. I am currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded Stitching Together research network project, which aims to bring together researchers, professional textile practitioners, project commissioners and enthusiast textile maker groups to develop improved critical understandings of participatory textile as an emerging methodological approach used in cross-disciplinary research.

Research Supervision

I am currently co-supervising three PhD students:

· Rachel Jackson (at AUB) “A Practice Based Methodology for Narrating the Past in Collections of Textiles and Dress”

· Justine Moss (at AUB) “Discarded Garments in Motion: Exploring Female Affect in Narrative Film Through a Contemporary Drawing Practice”

· Sarah Brown (at Bath University) “From Weaving to Embroidery: A multimodal inquiry into the changing craft methodologies of Malagasy women”

I am interested in supervising PhD projects in these areas:

textile craft and design practices, particularly stitched textiles; the relationships between implicit and explicit forms of knowledge and the meanings of hand-making within post-industrial digital cultures; collective and social making practices; gender and power dynamics in/of craft practices; literary metaphor and creative textile practices; the learning and transmission of hand skills; creative methodologies.

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Research output