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Crafts Research Group

The Crafts Research Group is focused on the production and dissemination of high quality research in the contemporary crafts at Manchester School of Art. The group promotes the development of research activity in the history, theory and practice of craft, encourages collaboration, and supports a growing practiceasresearch culture within the discipline.

Acting as a focus of creative production, constructive exchange and critical reflection, the Crafts Research Group encourages and supports the activities of researchers, makers and theorists across a wide range of contemporary making practices. Through projects such as 'Pairings', the group actively promotes interaction between subject areas (from both inside and outside of recognized craft boundaries) and between scholarship and studio practice.

Research activity within the group is focused on enquiry into the historical, cultural, social and economic significance of the hand-made and the archived object, the sustainability of crafts practice, and the critical dialogue between contemporary digital technology and traditional analog processes. Creative collaboration between individuals, HE institutions and with external and international project partners is central to the group's philosophy. The group is committed to an engagement with crafts in a multi-cultural context.

The group comprises designated research staff, including research fellows in ceramics, textiles and digital crafts, research-active teaching staff (drawn primarily, though not exclusively, from the Department of Design) and allied MIRIAD research students. Group members' research outputs cover a broad spectrum, from the production of individual artefacts and exhibitions to curatorship, critical writing and the publication of books and journal articles.

Research Areas

The group has recognized strengths in the material areas of ceramics (REF 2014) and textiles, and an established and growing engagement with contemporary digital processes in these and other areas.

Particular areas of research interest include:

  • Embodiment; materiality and memory.
  • The past in dialogue with the present.
  • Collections, archives and their cultural value.
  • Sustainable and cross-cultural crafts practices.
  • Art and war/Craft and conflict.
  • Social and public engagement.
  • Digital practice as a making tool.
  • Hybrid analog/digital practice.
  • Visual narrative/lyricality/storytelling.

Recent Projects

A textiles, glass and film collaboration, shown at Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.

A touring exhibition; ceramics, photography film and installation, in response to Staffordshire Museums' WW1 collections.

A solo exhibition at the International Quilt Study Centre, Nebraska, USA.

The Colloquium 'The Erotic Cloth' considered the ways in which the qualities of cloth to seduce, conceal and reveal have been investigated and exploited in art.

A collaborative community project with the British Ceramics Biennial and European partners, exploring ceramics as a messenger of social change.

A participatory event at Pallant House Gallery. Curated by Alice Kettle as part of Craft Strategy SE, the event brought curators together at a performative meal to develop initiatives which crossed boundaries of use and function.


Exhibitions & Publications


Kirk, V., Robertson, E., Lawrence, K., Ashcroft, J., Munro, A., Coleman, R., Trevillian, A., 2017. Drawn Thread, Australia National University, Canberra , Australia, 26/7/2017 - 5/8/2017.

Kelly, RMC., 2017. Intersections: A conference Exploring Collaboration in Textile Design Research, Loughborough University in London, 13/9/2017.

Setterington, L., Das, D., 2017. Kotha and Kantha, Manchester Central Library, 7/2017.

Kettle, 2017. Made in Translation, The Portico Library, Manchester, 27/4/2017.

Adkins, LB., Hurlstone, I., Duffy, N., 2017. Re-Making Histories and the Gaps Between, The Tetley Centre for Contemporary Art, 21/4/2017.

Hurlstone, IN., 2017. Rijswik Textile Biennial, Rijswik Museum and Art Gallery, Rijswijk, Netherlands, 5/2017.

Kettle, AM., 2017. Slipware, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.

Ashkanian, M., Dib, R., Dutton, J., Hurlstone, N., Just, K., Lee, J., Mason, T., Riis, J., Sebyleau, A., Seon Yoon, J., Velasco, C., Yildiz, M., Taute, H., Orezekauskiene-Ore, L., Larsen, K., Koga, R., Presttun, KK., Bauer, S., 2017. Textiel Biennale, Rijswick Museum, The Netherlands, 16/5/2017 - 24/9/2017.

O'Neill, C., 2016. (Y)Our Stories, The Apple House Gallery, Guldagergård, Denmark, 5/5/2016.

The Reader

O'Neill, C. J., 2016. (Y)our Stories (solo), The Apple House Gallery, May 2016.

Kettle, A., 2016. A Place at the Table, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 25th November 2014 – 18th January 2015.

Morfill, SE., Fry, R., 2016. BOCS Ltd, Palazzo della Cultura, Catania, Italy, 5/9/2016.

Leclercq, A., 2016. Chemins Croises, World Crafts Council, 17/4/2016 - 14/8/2016.

Grimshaw, DV., 2016. Crafts Council - Make:shift conference 2016, Manchester Museum of Science & Industry, 10/11/2016.

Kettle, AM., 2016. Here and Now - Stitches in Time, Circus Consultancy, London, 12/1/2016 - 31/3/2016.

Setterington, L., 2016. Making Spaces, Macclesfield Silk Museum, June - Sept 2016.

Kettle, A., 2016. More Academic Choice, Crafts Study Centre, UCA Farnham, 29 March to 10 December 2016.

Michael Kidner Project - Breaking the sequenceMichael Kidner Project - Breaking the sequenceMichael Kidner Project - Breaking the sequenceMichael Kidner Project - Breaking the sequence

Mitchison, L., 2016. Painting into Textile, Flowers Gallery London, 5/7/2016.

Gawthorpe Etched WallpaperGawthorpe Etched and Digitally Printed Paper SamplesDetail fo Gawthorpe Wallpaper by Rachel KellyGawthorpe Wallpaper

Kelly, R., 2016. Significance, Knit and Stitch Shows at Alexandra Palace and Harrogate, Oct-Nov 2016.

Morfill, S., Taylor, M., amaCollective, Dorrian, E., Fry, R., Hulson, M., Leimanis, I., Minkin, L., Murphy, M., Planas, E., Schady, A., Summers, F., 2016. The Dirty Subject, Five Years, Unit 2B1, 9-15 Elthorne Road, London, N19 4AJ, 25/6/2016 - 3/7/2016.

Setterington, L., 2016. The Wit of the Stitch, Ruthin Craft Centre, July - Sept 2016.

Dixon, S. Scott, P. Brennand-Wood, M. Brownsword, N. Hodes, C. McNicholl, C. Slotte, C. Stofer, H. Sormin, L. Clarke, D. Nordli, I. de Vries, B., 2015. RE- reanimate, repair, meld and mend., Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, October 9 to November 14.

Dixon, S., 2015. Resonance: Reflections on the Great War through artwork inspired by Staffordshire collections., Cannock Chase Museum, Staffordshire County Museum, Ancient high House Stafford, and touring to four other venues., 6/3/2015.

Pocket Shrine (detail of 'Christ of the Trenches')Column (detail)From your loving sweetheart (detail)The Beautiful Game

Dixon, S. Magee, J, 2015. Resonance: reflections on the Great War through artworks inspired by Staffordshire collections., Museum of Cannock Chase., March 9 to April 26, 2015.

ResonateCompleted installationInstallationResonate: work in progress.

Dixon, S. Magee, J., 2015. Resonate, British Ceramics Biennial, September 26 to November 8, 2015.

Dixon, S., Magee, J., 2015. Resonate: remembering the lost soldiers of North Staffordshire., British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke-on-Trent., 25/9/2015.

Green, D., Sherwood, D., Watkins, E., White, I., Moore, T., Raetze, S., Theau, J., Grogan, L., Waters, S., Siwerski, M., von Mengersen, B., 2015. Slipstitch, National Exhibition Touring Support Victoria, Australia, 27/3/2015 - 8/6/2017.

Badges of honour.Fred Marshall, lithophane.At Heart a Man (detail of individual plate)Postcard portrait of a boy soldierThe Lost Boys remembrance event, 8/11/15

Dixon, S. Magee, J. Welsh, A., 2015. The Lost Boys: Remembering the Boy Soldiers of the First World War., Holden Gallery, Manchester, November 5 to 11, 2015.

The Naturalness of Strange Things

Morfill, SE., Cavic, A., 2015. The naturalness of strange things, Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, 11/2015.

Morfill, SE., Ana Cavic, A., 2015. The naturalness of strange things The line that..., Five Years, London, 10/4/2015 - 26/4/2015.

Aubrey, K., 2015. Visual Arts Scotland, 2015, Royal Scottish Gallery,Edinburgh, 7/2/2015.

Kyoto Wallpaper SampleKyoto Wallpaper Detail with TurquoiseReview in Crafts by Emma Crichton MillarKyoto Wallpaper DetailKyoto Wallpaper by Rachel KellyKyoto Wallpaper by Rachel Kelly

Kelly, R., 2015. W is for Wallpaper, Ruthin Craft Centre, 23 Sept - 22 November 2015.


Jones, HL., 2017. 'Emergency Book Mark Holders', Portico Library.

Jones, HL., 2017. 'Emergency Bookmark holder', Portico Library.

Window StickerBirds and Berries TapestryBirds and Berries Motif by Rachel Kelly for Blackwell Arts and Crafts House

Kelly, R., 2016. 'Birds and Berries Motif', Commissioned motif by Rachel Kelly for The Lakeland Arts Trust to celebrate Baillie Scott Centenary, Blackwell Arts and Cratfs House, Windemere, England, June 2015.

Grimshaw, DV., 2016. 'Multi-elliptical bowl 2016', Manchester.

Morfill, SE., Cavic, A., 2016. 'Rules that order the reading of clouds', Touring various venues.

McKeating, JE., 2016. 'Shirt from the bottom of the bottom drawer', Knitting and Stitching show, Alexander Palace, London.

Kettle, A., 2016. 'The Dog Loukanikos and the Cat’s Cradle’', Textile work, Collect with Contemporary Applied Arts, Saatchi Gallery London, VAS:t, Scottish Royal Society of Arts, invited artist, Here and Now, Circus performance Alice Kettle, Circus and CAA Gallery, London, 2015, 2015 and 2016.

Kettle, AM., 2016. 'Where is Jack Space Man', World Crafts Council.

Kettle, A., 2015. 'Map to the Future', Large wall hung site specific artefact, Lloyd’s Register, Marine Technology Centre, University of Southampton.

Kettle, AM., 2015. 'Map to the Future', Marine Technology Centre, Lloyds Register, University of Southampton.

'Garden' Multi Paper Wall Sticker'Garden' in Grey Multi Paper Wall StickerVertical Gallery Mineral Window Decal  2016

Kelly, RMC., 2015. 'Mica and Gold Leaf Glass Decal', Manchester School of Art.

Kettle, AM., Aubrey, A., Ravetz, A., 2015. 'The Dog Loukanikos and the Cat's Cradle'', VAS:t, Scottish Royal Society of Arts, invited artist, Royal Academy Edinburgh.

Kettle, AM., Aubrey, K., 2015. 'Thread as a chronicle of contemporary political and symbolic narrative', Craft Now, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead;, Collect, Saatchi Gallery London ;VAS:T, Scottish Royal Academy of Art, Edinburgh;.

McKeating, JE., 2015. 'Waiting for Layla', Upfront Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria.


Morfill, S. and Wood, K., 2016. 'ECHO', Open Space, Axis Arts Centre, March 8th/9th 2013.


Millar, L., 2017. 'The Erotic Cloth; seduction and fetishism', Bloomsbury Academic, London.

MORFILL, S., BARNET, SE., 2016. 'Drawing and Other Writing', Everyday Press, London.

Book Chapters

Kettle, AM., 2016. 'The Shaping of Dreams'. In Figueiredo, D., Steene, M. (eds.) Radical Craft, pp. 6-8, Craftspace, Birmingham.

Morfill, SE., 2015. 'Romance and Contagion'. In Collaborative Performance Arts: Process and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan.


Carpenter, A., Illingworth, S., Lloyd, T., Hall, A., Kelly, R., 2017. 'Testing The Field Film 2017'.

Journal Articles

Blakey, S., Mitchell, L., 2017. 'Unfolding: A multisensorial dialogue in 'material time'', Studies in Material Thinking, 17.

O'Neill, CJ., 2016. 'Matching Process to Design', Ceramics monthly, (February 2016).

Blakey, S., McFadyen, J., 2015. 'Curiosity over conformity: The Maker's Palette - a case for hands-on learning', Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 14 (2), pp. 131-143.

Conference Papers

Grimshaw, DV., 2017. '"Learning from Music" - Opportunities for creative craft knowledge to translate the idealised perfection of the virtual, into the expressive materiality of reality.'.

Grimshaw, DV., 2017. 'Crafting the Digital: Developing expression and materiality within digital design and manufacture', Design for Next 12th EAD Conference, Sapienza University of Rome, 12/4/2017 - 14/4/2017.

Aubrey, K., 2017. 'Exploring the role and impact of Art and Design education to facilitate Healthcare initiatives'.

Academic Development Blog SiteTesting The Field FilmIkebana Workshop with Educator Project Unit X Students 2017Middlewood Trust Collaborative Field Ikebana 2017

Kelly, RMC., 2017. 'Ikebana: a collaborative design pedagogy', Design for Next, 12th EAD Conference, Rome, 12/4/2017 - 14/4/2017, in The Design Journal.

Kelly, RMC., 2017. 'Ikebana: A Tool for Collaborative Art and Design Pedagogy', 20th GLAD Conference, Manchester School of Art, 6/4/2017 - 6/4/2017.

Grimshaw, DV., Boydell, S., 2017. 'Object Lessons: what is the value of engaging with the physical object within design research and education, evaluated through the application of the "Material & Process Innovation Collection", at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.', International Association of Societies of Design Research, University of Cincinnati, 31/10/2017 - 3/11/2017.

Kelly, RMC., 2017. 'Visualisation Models to Support Learning within Collaborative Textile Projects in Higher Education.', Textile Society's biennial research symposium: New Research Strategies IV, Wellcome Trust, London, 27/5/2017 - 27/5/2017.

Kettle, AM., 2016. 'The Story and the Stitch', Cross Currents: Land, Labor and the Port, Savannah, USA, 19/10/2016 - 23/10/2016.

Kettle, AM., 2015. 'Walls, cloth and thread Key note speech', Textile Society Conference, The Whitworth Art Gallery, 7/11/2015 - 7/11/2015.


O'Neill, C. J., 2016. 'Collaborative Value', SAAG conference, Manchester School of Art, 27 March 2014.

CNC Routed - Linked Elliptical BowlCNC Routed - Linked Elliptical BowlCNC Routed - Linked Elliptical Bowl

Grimshaw, D., 2016. 'Make:Shift - Crafts Council Conference', Manchester Museum of Science & Industry.

Nerantzi, C., Baylis-Green, C., Thomas, R., 2016. 'Playing with the everyday', Manchester Metropolitan University.

Morfill, SE., Cavic, A., 2016. 'Rules that order the reading of clouds', Nottingham Contemporary.

Grimshaw, D., 2015. 'Digital Making - A Future for Materiality in a Digital World', Guest Lecture to staff and students of Lincoln University, Lincoln University, April 2015.

Morfill, SE., Wood, K., 2015. 'Echo: digital interventions in a conversation between dance and drawing', Centre for Dance Research, Coventry.

Rachel Kelly Keynote Speaker at Making It Conference 2015

Kelly, R., 2015. 'Keynote Lecture at North West 'Making It' Conference 2015', Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.


Ikebana Workshop with Unit X Students 2016Ikebana Workshop with Unit X Students 2016Ikebana Poster

Kelly, RMC., 2016. 'Ikebana: A cross-disciplinary workshop exploring collaborative projects within Manchester School of Art', CELT Festival of Teaching and Learning, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Other Outputs

Ruthin Wall Installation 2015Ruthin Wallpaper DetailRuthin Artists Stories Wallpaper by Rachel KellyFinished wall detailWorkshop Participant/s

Kelly, R., 2015. 'Artists Residency at Ruthin Craft Centre: Centre for the Applied Arts.', Rachel Kelly was invited to undetrtake a residency to develop new work at Ruthin Crafts Centre in 2015.