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Lesley Mitchison

Senior Lecturer

Lesley Mitchison

Lesley is a practicing textile artist of international repute. After studying her BA (Hons) in Woven Textiles as the Surrey Institute (Farnham), she then went on to complete her MA at the University of Central England. She has been immersed in the educational system for the past twenty five working in many institutions in the UK and abroad, including Canberra School of Art, Australia and the Kawashima Weaving School in Japan.

My research activity focuses on the heritage of craft skills and their longevity within the contemporary crafts arena; referencing archives (museum and site specific) for both visual and contextual information are key to the continued development of particular threads of investigation. A weaving career of thirty years has seen the development of many aspects in terms of technique and process, particular in the combination of weave, embroidery and print approaches to express ideas and concepts.

The development of ideas has evolved naturally through an interest in the social aspects of history, particualarly the importance of skill based history, which has fallen out of favour with much contemporary craft criticism and the fundamental values of craft-work and its process. Particular research in to the life and works of the weaver, Ethel Mairet and the ethos surrounding the weave workshop in Ditchling Sussex, where Mairet once employed fellow weavers, spinners and dyers to work under her guidance and tutoring in the making of quite beautiful but practical artefacts.

The simplicity of structure in the weaving process employed by Mairet suggest a purity and truth to materials unadorned by decoration for the sake of it. In response to this, recent work has focused on the more commercial application of weave.

Work in public & private collections including: The Whitworth Art Gallery, Nottingham Castle Contemporary Textile Collection, Gallery Gallery , Kyoto Japan.


'Out of the Ordinary' a chapter written for the publication 'Hand Stitch"

The focus of the book is to partner a previous publication ‘Machine Stitch’ and to provide a strong contextual reference for the role of hand stitch in a broad and diverse context. The aim of this book chapter is to challenge the notion of what hand stitch represents in a contemporary context. Details…

Aiguille en Fete, Paris February 2014

Exhibited as part of a group exhibition of Manchester School of Art Staff & Student work at the prestigious Aiguille en Fete in Paris in February 2014. Exploring the diversity of thread and 'stitch' approaches has resulted in a series of landscape inspired pieces of woven textiles that explore motif and the repetitive nature of the processes of weave and stitch. Details…

Bite-Size exhibition

UCA's Professor of Textile Culture, Lesley Millar MBE, has curated Bite-Size, an exhibition of miniature works by textile artists from both countries, at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in London from 31 October - 14 December 2011. It will then travel to Japan and be shown at Gallery Gallery in Kyoto 25 February - 10 March 2012, and move to Nagoya University of the Arts in Tokyo 11-23 May 2012. Details…

COTTON EXCHANGE: A collaborative project between members of the Crafts Research Centre at MIRIAD, MMU, and Lancashire Museums

MIRIAD artists will ‘share’ the residency/commission offered by A Fine Line and the Cotton Exchange project, to deliver a series of related installation/intervention artworks. These works will be exhibited at the Queens Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley, as part of the ‘Global Threads’ Cultural Olympiad Programme, opening in May 2012. Details…

Material Matters 22 September - 12 December 2014 MMU Special Collections

Work exhibited in response to the importance of traditional process in contemporary making This exhibition looks at how different materials have been used in art, craft and design over the centuries and across cultures. To complement the historic collections, contemporary work by makers from the Manchester School of Art who work in both traditional and new materials is included, showing the ongoing importance of materiality to the artist and designer, and how far materials give expression to their work. Details…

The Michael Kidner Trust at the Flowers East Gallery London

Professor Alice Kettle & Lesley Mitchison with seven emerging artist/designers from Textiles in Practice at Manchester School of Art, MMU have recently embarked upon an exciting collaboration with the Michael Kidner Trust; a project that involves a response to the work of Michael Kidner into new and exciting territories, within the textile world. The outcomes of which will be showcased in a pop-up Exhibition at the Flowers East Gallery in London in July 2016. Details…


Lesley Mitchison is a member of the Design Research Hub.

A selection of recent research outputs.


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.

Mitchison, L., 2014. Aiguille en Fete, Paris February 2014, Aiguille en Fete, Paris February 2014, February 2014.

Mitchison, L., 2014. Material Matters, MMU Special Collections, 3rd floor, Sir Kenneth Green Library, 13/10/2014.

McKeating, J., 2014. Scenes of Change, L'Aguille en Fete, Paris, February 2014.

Mitchison, L, Miller,Lesley, 2012. Bite-Size: An exhibition of miniature works, Daiwa Anglo-Janpanese Foundation, London, Gallery Gallery, Kyoto, Janpan, Nagoya University of the Arts, Tokyo, 31st october 2011 - 23rd May 2012.

Mitchison, L. Dixon, Stephen, Kettle, Alice, Welsh, Alison, Zapp, Andrea, 2012. Global Threads: The cotton Exchange Project, Queens Street Mill, Burnley, Lancashire, May - August 2012.

McKeating, J., 2012. Hand Stich Perspectives, Knitting and stitching show Alexander palace London, Harrogate and Dublin, October -November 2012.


Mitchison, L., 2016. 'Breaking the Sequence', Painting into Textiles, Flowers East Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

Mitchison, L. Harris, Jennifer Deputy director at the Whitworth Art Gallery, 2009. 'Whitworth's Artists handling boxes', A collection of works that document process and outcome, Whitworth Art Gallery, Purchased for the education collection.

Book Chapters

Mitchison, L. McKeating, J, Kettle, Alice, Egan, K, Hurlestone, N, Belcher, H, Miller, M, Morrell, A, 2012. 'Out of the Ordinary'. In Jane McKeating & Alice Kettle (eds.) Hand Stitich, one chapter, A&C Black.