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Scenes of Change

Assessing the impact of digitial methodologies on the interpretation, expression and production of structural and narrative depictions in contemporary stitch practice
L'aguille en Fete 2014
The project aims to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of digital methodologies on contemporary stitch practice (specifically in relationship to figurative narrative content) through the examination of four leading practitioners; Alice Kettle, Jane McKeating, Lesley Mitchison and Nigel Hurlstone. Each have pioneered digital technologies through adapting practices originally grounded in traditional craft production techniques and subsequently developed hybrid methodologies that retain a deep affiliation to the traditions and aesthetics of hand crafted artefacts while utilising and expanding the possibilities for digital production.

Whilst diverse in terms of aesthetic, form, scale and process, the work of Kettle, McKeating, Mitchison and Hurlstone is imbedded in the investigation of stitched textiles to express narrative content through figurative and/or pictorial subjects. Their practices emerged and were recognised both nationally and internationally prior to the capacity of digital technologies to be harnessed by individual makers and have been ongoing for the last twenty-five years. If read in linear progression, their work clearly reflects the impact of emerging digital methodologies in terms of manufacture, but also reflects the influence of the digital on the interpretation, expression and reception of narrative when articulated through stitch practice.

This research aims to bring together key artefacts of these four makers within an exhibition context in order to visually interrogate these shifts. It will present work produced in a pre-digital context and new artefacts specifically commissioned for it, with a view towards not only examining the impact of the digital from the perspective of post-production analysis, but also as a means to anticipate and explore what future narrative stitch practice may be.

The exhibition is being hosted, facilitated and sponsored by Jean-Charles Durand at the L’Aiguille en Fete, Paris with the specific intention of exposing the advancements made in UK digital craft, and specifically stitch, to an international audience of both makers and industrial professionals/buyers in order to promote and facilitate greater dialogue. The exhibition is both physically and metaphorically placed at the interface between the gallery ‘context’ and a showcase for manufacturing industry in order to maximise this potential and locate the results of artistic research and enquiry in proximity to that of its manufacturing counterpart. Attendance of Kettle, Mitchison, McKeating and Hurlstone at L’Aiguille en Fete will provide an opportunity to co-ordinate, establish and maximise existing partnerships based on the results of research disseminated through this exhibition.

In addition to ‘Scenes of Change,’ L’aiguille en Fete will host an exhibition of student work that demonstrates the distinctive characteristics, skills and machine capabilities that are inherent to the teaching of stitch within the Department of Design.