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Witness - Stephen Dixon

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


Morfill, S., Giles, S., 2019. Found Gestures, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, 14/4/2019 - 14/5/2019.

Kettle, AM., 2019. Slipware, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.

Walsh, J., 2019. The Secret History of Magazine Design: Cover Version, Science and Industry Museum, Manchester, 11/10/2019.

Aubrey, K., 2019. Undisciplinarity, Teaching and Learning in Action, 1/2019.

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Kettle, AM., 2018. Alice Kettle: Thread Bearing Witness, The Whitworth, Manchester UK, 1/9/2018 - 24/4/2019.

Grimshaw, D., 2018. Crafting the Digital : an investigation into material and process led digital making, Craft Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, 13/11/2018 - 15/12/2018.

Kettle, A., 2018. Odyssey, Southampton City Art Gallery, 6/10/2018 - 9/3/2019.

Kettle, A., 2018. Present Day - Supporting Living Artists, Candida Stevens Gallery, 10/11/2018 - 22/12/2018.

Kettle, AM., 2017. Alice Kettle: Threads, The Gallery Winchester Discovery centre, 28/10/2017 - 14/1/2018.

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.

Chambers, S., Cooper, E., Farthing, S., Nash, D., Green, N., 2017. Good Nature, Candida Stevens Gallery, 16/9/2017 - 28/10/2017.

Dixon, S., Magee, J., 2017. Heart:beat, Bapugaon, Palghar District, Maharashtra, India.., 22/1/2017.

Magee, J., Dixon, S., 2017. Heart:Beat, Bapugaon village, Palghar District, Maharastra, India, 22/1/2017.

Kelly, RMC., 2017. Ikebana - Collaborative Practice Models, Loughborough University in London, 13/9/2017.

Donkor, K., Symington, C., 2017. Ink and Blood: Stories of Abolition, Liverpool International Slavery Museum, 21/8/2017 - 2/9/2018.

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.

Kettle, AM., 2017. More Threads, Candida Stevens Gallery, 10/11/2017 - 2/12/2017.

Dixon, S., 2017. Passchendaele: Mud and Memory, The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, 8/7/2017.

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

Dixon, S., Welsh, A., 2017. Refuge: Ropner's Ghost Ship., Preston Park Museum, Teesside., 3/10/2017.

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

Setterington, L., 2017. Sew Near- Sew Far, Bronte Parsonage Museum, 6/2017.

Kettle, A., 2017. Textiel Biennale, Rijswick Museum, The Netherlands, 16/5/2017 - 24/9/2017.

Magee, J., 2017. WARLI HEART:BEAT, British Ceramics Biennial 2017, Potteries Museum Venue, Stoke-on-Trent, 23/1/2017.


Ian, S., Prof Richard, VN., Aubrey, K., 2020. 'Sensing the coast: exploring permanence, physicality and perspective', Atelier d'arts Film Fest (European Film Festival for Fine Crafts) and Real to Reel, the UK Film Festival of Crafts,.

Kettle, A., 2019. 'Journey of the Thread', Hanshan Art Museum, China.

Grimshaw, D., 2018. 'Digital Generation of CNC Router Surface Patterns'.

McKeating, J., 2018. 'Nine Days a Week', MAC Birmingham.

Kettle, A., 2018. 'The 11th China Embroidery Culture and Arts Festival', Hanshan Art Museum, Hangzhou, China.

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

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

Setterington, L., 2017. 'Sew Near - Sew Far', Haworth, West Yorkshire.


Hitchen, J., Kettle, A., Penny, D., Moss, J., 2017. 'Made In Translation.', MMU and The Portico Library, Manchester.

Book Chapters

Kelly, R., Stephens, M., 2019. 'The Digitization of Cordillera Weaving: Designing a New Oral Tradition. Anthropological Analysis, Mathematical Symmetry and Technical Characterization of Cordillera Textiles'. In The Digitization of Cordillera Weaving: Designing a New Oral Tradition. Anthropological Analysis, Mathematical Symmetry and Technical Characterization of Cordillera Textiles., pp. 143-160.

Millar, L., Kettle, A., 2018. 'An introduction to The Erotic Cloth'. In Kettle, AM., Millar, L. (eds.) The Erotic Cloth: Seduction and Fetishism in Textiles, 200, Bloomsbury Academic, London.


Carpenter, A., Illingworth, S., 2019. 'Testing The Field'.

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

Journal Articles

Dixon, S., 2019. 'Ceramics, narrative and commemoration', Craft Research, 10 (1), pp. 121-131.

Kettle, A., 2019. 'Textile and Place', TEXTILE, 17 (4), pp. 332-339.

Grimshaw, D., 2017. 'Crafting the Digital: Developing expression and materiality within digital design and manufacture', The Design Journal, 20 (sup1), pp. S3735-S3748.

Slater, AJ., Setterington, L., 2017. 'Stories of Collaborative Making: Two Rochdale Quilts', Quilt Studies, 18, pp. 7-36.

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

Non-Peer Reviewed Articles

Kettle, A., 2019. 'Anni Albers', The Journal of Modern Craft, 12 (1), pp. 67-71.

Conference Papers

Kelly, R., Stephens, M., 2019. 'The Digitization of Cordillera Weaving: Designing a New Oral Tradition', IASDR 2019, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2/9/2019 - 5/9/2019.

Kelly, R., 2019. 'The Voices of the Cordillera- Digitising an Oral Tradition.', Design for Change Symposium, Design Museum, London, 11/12/2019 - 12/9/2019.

Kettle, A., 2018. 'In the Margins, Materialising Stories', 9/7/2018 - 9/7/2018.

Harper, P., Kettle, A., 2018. 'Making leaders/curating maker cultures', The Poetics of Leadership, Crossfields Institute, 7/9/2018 - 8/9/2018.

Dixon, S., Welsh, A., 2018. 'Refuge: Ropner's Ghost Ship: engaging with contemporary issues in the site-specific context of the museum', Manchester School of Art. Manchester Metropolitan University, 12/4/2018 - 13/4/2018.

Kelly, RMC., Carpenter, A., Illingworth, S., Hall, A., 2018. 'Testing The Field: Transdisciplinary Learning in an Unfamiliar Environment', HEA STEM Conference 2018: Creativity in Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 31/1/2018 - 1/2/2018.

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.', Canadian Craft Biennial - Can Craft? Craft Can!, 14/9/2017 - 17/9/2017.

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

Kelly, R., 2017. 'Ikebana: A Collaborative Design Pedagogy', Design for Next, 12th EAD Conference, Rome, 12/4/2017 - 14/4/2017, in The Design Journal, 20 (sup1), pp. S1093-S1105.

Kelly, RMC., 2017. 'Ikebana: A creative model for interdisciplinary pedagogy', Canadian Craft Biennial Conference Can Craft? Craft Can!, Burlington, Canada, 15/9/2017 - 16/9/2017.

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.


The Reader, Ceramic Values Congress, British Ceramics Biennial, 2017The Reader, Ceramic Values Congress, British Ceramics Biennial, 2017

O'Neill, C. J., 2017. 'The Reader', Ceramic Values Congress, British Ceramics Biennial at Spode, Stoke-On-Trent, 5-6 Oct 2017.