Dr Alison Slater
Art Theory and Practice
Alison Slater is a Senior Lecturer in Design History. Her research focuses on encounters with dress, particularly working-class and everyday dress, using oral history and material culture approaches. She is interested in the relationships between objects and identity, history and memory, particularly experiences that sit outside traditional historical and archival records, using primary research to gather new insights. Alison is fascinated by how immaterial ideas such as relationships, emotions, feelings and memories can impact our encounters with material things and how they can remain important beyond the lives of people and even the material objects.
Alison is the Contextualising Practice Framework Co-ordinator and also leads Contextualising Practice 2: Fashioning Identities.
Alison was appointed as an Associate Lecturer in 2008 and joined the permanent staff in February 2013. She completed her PhD, funded by the AHRC, at MIRIAD in 2011. She has an MA in Textiles from MMU and BA (hons) in Textile/Surface Design from Bolton Institute of H.E. (now the University of Bolton). Alison has also worked for the University of Bolton and the University of Salford.
Alison’s doctoral research, entitled ‘The Dress of Working-Class Women in Bolton and Oldham, Lancashire 1939 to 1945’, used oral history methods to investigate working-class memories of dress in the North West of England during the Second World War, while also questioning the nature of memories as historical evidence. Her findings challenge existing ideas about experiences of clothing rationing and the Government’s ‘Make Do and Mend’ campaign. More recent research has considered the impact of materiality in memories of dress.
More recent research has considered the impact of materiality on memories of dress and ‘bequeathed identities’, which explores the objects that are left behind after death and what they say about the identity of their former owners.
Alison recently completed ‘Life on the Outskirts’, a research collaboration with Dr Robert Knifton (University of Leeds) and the Helen Storey Foundation (AHRC funded from March 2017 to October 2018). As the custodian of Helen Storey’s work, the Foundation promotes practices and collaborations with some kind of societal impact. In most Helen Storey Foundation outputs, textiles are produced and/or used as a Trojan horse for broader messages. Life on the Outskirts uses the Helen Storey Foundation archive as a case study to consider creative archives as routes through creative processes and as inspiration for new creative practices. For more information see: www.lifeontheoutskirts.org.
In addition to her dress history research, Alison has previously worked with Textile Artist Lynn Setterington for research as part of her ‘Please Sign Here’ signature quilt exhibition at Touchstones, Rochdale (2013). She has also collaborated with Castlefield Gallery to research into ‘Artists in Greater Manchester’ (2014) and opportunities for artist development (‘Analysing Artists’ Continual Professional Development: Towards an integrated approach to talent development’, 2012).
PGR students (completed):
• Rebecca De Mynn, PhD, ‘An Enquiry into Artist Development: Using Castlefield Gallery as a case study, can an understanding of artist development inject a new perspective on contemporary debates in the arts?’, 2017.
• Elizabeth Mitchell, PhD, ‘Believe me, I remain…’: The Mary Greg Collection at Manchester City Galleries’, 2018.
PGR Students (in progress):
• Ruth Eaton, ‘Pockets are A Feminist Issue’ (MPhil, Supervisor)
• Jo Jenkinson, ‘Soundtracks of Dress’ (PhD, Supervisor)
• Sophie Wood, ‘Treasured Garments: Identity, Memory and Value’ (PhD, Director of Studies)
Alison Slater is a member of the Visual Culture Research Group.
A selection of recent research outputs.
Setterington, L. and Slater, A., 2013. Please Sign Here, Touchstones, Rochdale, December 2013-March 2014.
Slater, A., 2020. 'Listening to dress: unfolding oral history methods'. In Mundane Methods Innovative Ways to Research the Everyday, Manchester University Press.
Slater, AJ., 2010. ''Make-do-and-mend: 'Leisure' or 'work' in the lives of working-class women in Bolton and Oldham, Lancashire 1939-1945?''. In Snape, R., Pussard, H. (eds.) Recording Leisure Lives: Sports, Games and Pastimes in 20th Century Britain, pp. 41-55, Leisure Studies Association.
Slater, AJ., 2014. 'Artists in Greater Manchester', Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
Slater, AJ., Ravetz, A., Lee, K., 2013. 'Analysing Artists' Continual Professional Development (CPD) in Greater Manchester: towards an integrated approach for talent development', Castlefield Gallery.
Slater, AJ., Setterington, L., 2017. 'Stories of Collaborative Making: Two Rochdale Quilts', Quilt Studies, 18, pp. 7-36.
Slater, A., 2014. 'Wearing in memory: Materiality and oral histories of dress', Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty, 5 (1), pp. 125-139.
Slater, A., 2014. 'Artists in Greater Manchester'.
Slater, A., Ravetz, A. Lee, K, 2013. 'Analysing Artists’ Continual Professional Development (CPD) in Greater Manchester: towards an integrated approach for talent development', Report on pilot study conducted by MIRIAD and Castlefield Gallery.
Slater, A., 2013. '‘Mrs Worth’s Autograph Quilt (Rochdale, 1895)’ for Please Sign Here, Touchstones, Rochdale, Dec 2013- March 2014.'.