Dr Alison Slater
Interim Head of Art and Performance
Alison Slater is Interim Head of Department of Art and Performance. 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, 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 previously worked for the University of Bolton and the University of Salford. She is an external examiner for Liverpool John Moores University and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.
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. She is currently working as lead editor on a co-edited volume, Memories of Dress: Recollections of Material Identities for Bloomsbury Academic with her colleagues Dr Susan Atkin and Dr Elizabeth Kealy-Morris.
From 2017-2018, Alison was Co-I for the AHRC funded research project ‘Life on the Outskirts’, a collaboration with Dr Robert Knifton (University of Leeds) and the Helen Storey Foundation. As the custodian of Helen Storey’s work, the Foundation promotes practices and collaborations with some kind of societal impact. In most outputs, textiles are produced and/or used as a Trojan horse for broader messages. Life on the Outskirts used 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.
• Sophie Wood, PhD, ‘Treasured Garments: Exploring Value in the Wardrobe’, 2020. (Director of Studies)
PGR Students (in progress):
• Ruth Eaton, ‘Thanks! It has Pockets! A study of pockets through social commentary on Twitter, 2006 to 2021.’ (PhD, First Supervisor)
• Jo Jenkinson, ‘Wardrobes and Soundtracks: Narratives of Female Youth experienced and remembered through music and dress’ (PhD, First Supervisor)
Setterington, L. and Slater, A., 2013. Please Sign Here, Touchstones, Rochdale, December 2013-March 2014.
Slater, A., Atkin, S., Kealy-Morris, E., 2023. 'Memories of Dress: Recollections of Material Identities', Bloomsbury, London.
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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.
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Slater, A., 2021. 'Book Review of 'Crafting Anatomies: Archives, Dialogues, Fabrications' by Katherine Townsend, Rhian Solomon and Amanda Briggs-Goode (eds) (2020)', Craft Research Journal, 12 (2), pp. 353-358.
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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.'.