January 2018


The Editors Lesley Millar and Alice Kettle are celebrating the publication by Bloomsbury Academic of The Erotic Cloth: Seduction and Fetishism in Textiles

  • Birmingham on Saturday February 10 at Midland Arts Centre (mac)
  • Manchester on Wednesday February 14 at Manchester Metropolitan University
  • London on Friday February 23 at The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, WC1N 3AT

Please contact Lesley Millar for more information.


October 2017 News



A one-day conference at the Building Centre, London 24th November 2017.

The conference will explore how works of craft engage with modern and contemporary architecture through the interiors and exteriors of buildings and the spaces between buildings. It will enable a reflection on the ways that architecture makes demands of craft and its makers, or even rejects craft.

The Speakers will be:

  • Petra Blaisse (Keynote)
  • Piers Taylor (Keynote)
  • Roz Barr (Keynote)
  • Christopher Tipping
  • Richard Kindersley
  • Jo McCullen
  • Philip Koomen

Tickets £100 and £45 students and concession (includes lunch and evening reception) for booking and further details 01252 891450 or craftscentre@uca.ac.uk



A one-day conference held on October 27th 2017 at UCA Rochester discussing the impact of digital technology on printed and woven textiles and beyond, culminating  in a remarkable performance from  Collectress and Rambert Dance Company with the Project “In the Making: Lightdial” December 2016.


75 delegates heard presentations from:

  • Phillip David  Stearns (Keynote)
  • David Mabb (Keynote)
  • Dr Sonja Andrew
  • Dr. Katherine Townsend and Dr. Ania Sadkowska
  • Sue Prescott
  • Coral Fowley
  • Sharon McElroy
  • Evelyn Bennett and Rebecca Waterworth
Digital Material Performance Delegates

Digital Material Performance Delegates

Digital Material Performance Phillip David Stearm

Digital Material Performance Phillip David Stearm

HERE & NOW - contemporary tapestry exhibition

The final visitor figure was 298,000 and the catalogue was reprinted 4 times! The exhibition is now closed and the works returned to the artists - HOWEVER, interesting developments to be announced shortly.


A one-day conference held on September 29th 2017 at the Holburne Museum . It was attended by 89 delegates who heard presentations from  4 of the exhibiting artists (in order of presentation):

Barbara Heller (Canada)
Title: Tapestry and Politics - the Story from Then and Now

Abstract: In her tapestries Barbara Heller addresses the concerns of our planet today – environmental degradation, population displacement, power and politics, and the plight of the individual trying to make sense of all this. Her presentation will draw from historical tapestries, her own work and that of other Canadians to demonstrate that contemporary tapestry belongs to a long tradition of narrative art.

Pat Taylor (UK)
Title: Crafting Stories: However we tell stories, they are as real a part of us as the experiencing, fleeting self

Abstract: Pat Taylor will talk about the importance of narrative in woven tapestry with particular reference to her own recent work. She will also look both East and West, making connections, setting a prismic view of tapestry weaving.

Yasuko Fujino (Japan)
Title: Each story- Tapestries in Japan

Abstract: Yasuko Fujino's presentation has three strands: the shared narrative of pattern and motifs in traditional textiles in Japan; her own work - the narrative of memory within her work and the narrative that emerges as she is making the work; the interest in creating contemporary tapestry in Japan.

Valerie Kirk (Australia)
Title: Past, in the Present and the Future

Abstract: Valerie Kirk will discuss how tapestry presents our stories, leaving a legacy for future generations. She will look at how the history of people, for example early Peruvian culture, can be read through the tapestries that remain, and that artists today are still committed to producing images to be woven in workshops that demonstrate their views on our contemporary world.

Here & Now conference speakers and artists.jpg

Each of the presentations took one hour, including questions, which gave the speakers a good amount of time to develop their themes in depth - and they all responded  to the opportunity with great generosity.

After the conference there was a dinner to celebrate the end of the exhibition and the birthday of our long term colleague and Co-ordinator in Japan, Keiko Kawashima. Many friends and colleagues who had been unable to attend the conference joined us for the dinner, which was a truly celebratory event.


June 2017 News

HERE & NOW - contemporary tapestry exhibition opens in Bath

The exhibition is now open at The Holburne Museum Bath and will run until October 1st. The Opening was a wonderful event, with many of the artists attending. There is a full supporting education programme including the Symposium detailed below (Tapestry: the narrative of our times). Booking now open, spaces are limited. The catalogue is now on its third reprint!

We were also delighted to read a review of the exhibition in The Guardian Guide 24.6.17

MAC Birmingham audience at nearly 280 thousand!

Visitor numbers for the HERE & NOW exhibition at MAC Birmingham rose to an extraordinary 279,441. If you didn't get a chance to see this wonderful exhibition there, take the opportunity to come to the Holbourne Museum in Bath when it is open from 24 June to 1 October.

May 2017 News

Lesley Millar on Radio 4 Woman's Hour April 20th - scary but enjoyable! 

HERE & NOW - contemporary tapestry exhibition

.A selection of the work in the exhibition is currently  at MAC Birmingham from April 1st - June 4th. The whole exhibition will then be shown at The Holburne Museum Bath from June 24th - October 1st.

Pat Taylor - Image E Egg

Pat Taylor - Image E Egg



Symposium September 29th at The Holburne Museum Bath.

  • 10am, registration and refreshments
  • 10.30am – 5pm, symposium
  • £25 / £10 students

To celebrate Tapestry: Here & Now, The Holburne Museum is delighted to host a significant and exciting symposium to coincide with the exhibition.

Bringing together a distinguished panel of international speakers, many of them exhibiting artists, the symposium will explore the relevance of tapestry as a means of conveying the narrative of our times. Providing perspectives from around the globe, speakers will explore how this artform can spark conversations and inspire reflection about our experiences and the world around us.

Speakers will include exhibiting artists Yasuko Fujino (Professor, Kyoto City University of Arts, Japan); Valerie Kirk (Professor, Australian National University, Australia); and Pat Taylor (previously Director at West Dean Tapestry Studio, UK). The event will be chaired by Professor Lesley Millar, the curator of Tapestry: Here & Now. For more details, please visit the website: www.holburne.org

Digital/Material: developments in printed textiles.

NEW DATE OCTOBER 27th. at UCA Rochester.

Surface pattern has the power to transform objects, materials and environments, layering them with new understanding. Patterned, decorated and ornamented surfaces can add colour, texture and the illusion of depth, and they can carry symbolic meanings that are cultural, political or psychological. Over the last decade the application of printed surface pattern has been revolutionised by advances in technology. Digital printing offers unparalleled scope for innovation, yet it follows a rich historical tradition of printed decoration in fashion, the interior and beyond. Topics covered will include:

  • What is the impact of digital technology in printed in textiles and beyond?
  • What role will be played by new materials?
  • How does history inform contemporary printed pattern making?
  • How can printed textiles reflect diverse global cultures?
  • What is the future of printed pattern?

Credit: Hufton + Crow

Credit: Hufton + Crow

The Matter of Material at Turner Contemporary in Margate.

The conference supporting the exhibition Entangled: the threads of making was held at Turner Contemporary on April 27th. and was attended by over 100 delegates. Professor Catherine Harper gave an inspirational Keynote address (abstract) followed by presentations from Karen Wright, Curator of Entangled: the threads of making (abstract); Freddie Robbins in conversation with Day and Gluckman (abstract); Dr Maxine Bristow (abstract); Dr Beverly Ayling Smith (abstract); Dr Catherine Dormor (abstract), Shelly Goldsmith (abstract).

January 2017 News

HERE & NOW - contemporary tapestry exhibition

Visitor figures for the show at National Centre for Craft and Design 12,204!

The exhibition has now closed at NCCD. A selection of the work in the exhibition will be shown at MAC Birmingham from April 1st - June 4th. The whole exhibition will then be shown at The Holburne Museum Bath from June 24th - October 1st.


March 15th - Craft History Conference at UCA Farnham.

Keynote speakers Glen Adamson and Alison Britton. Booking through the Craft Study Centre (partner organisation) on  craftscentre@ucreative.ac.uk or 01252 891450

April 27th - The Matter of Material at Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Supporting the exhibition Entangled: the threads of making curated by art critic Karen Wright for Turner Contemporary. The exhibition contains historic work from Anni Albers and Sonia Delaunay to Eva Hesse and then more contemporary artists. The conference will discuss the importance of cloth in art and includes presentations from Prof. Catherine Harper, Dr Maxine Bristow, Freddie Robbins, Shelly Goldsmith and Dr Beverly Ayling-Smith.

Booking through Turner Contemporary - Not yet up on their website - the exhibition doesn't open until January 28th, updates here soon and on their website.

July 14th - Digital/Material: developments in printed textiles.

This will be held at UCA Rochester. No details available yet as the Call for Papers is still out. Updates here soon.


Jo Lovelock and Naoya Doi, UCA MA Textiles graduates September 2016, exhibited their work at the famous Gallery Gallery in Kyoto from January 6th - 12th 2017. It was a wonderful opportunity for both the artists and for UCA to disseminate the excellent work of their MA's.  The Private View was very well attended, attracting artists and designers travelling from Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe.

Jo and Naoya also gave presentations about their work to students at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts. The event was fully subscribed, with lively discussions following each. Naoyo also translated for Jo.


Beverly Ayling-Smith was awarded her Doctorate for her practice based PhD: The space between mourning and melancholia: the use of cloth in contemporary art practice to materialise the work of mourning.  Her Viva exhibition was shown at the James Hockey Gallery UCA Farnham.

October 2016 News

HERE & NOW - contemporary tapestry exhibition

The exhibition has now opened at the National Centre for Craft and Design and will be shown there until 15th January 2017 and then tour.

HERE & NOW – visitor update:
1 Oct – 17 Nov: 6535!

Still time to see the exhibition if you haven’t visited yet… show closes at NCCD on January 15th 2017

The installation was extremely smooth thanks to the team at NCCD and, although the work is diverse, all agreed that the flow through the specially created 'rooms' works very well. Broadly the exhibition reflects rural, urban and political concerns and works that are all of those. The level of skill and different approaches to the medium of woven tapestry is exceptional, and the energy in the work of the younger weavers is the hope for the future. The Private View was well attended with many of the artists able to be present, including those from Japan, Latvia and Norway alongside the UK artists. The following day exhibiting artist Caron Penney gave a workshop that was fully booked and the Head of Exhibitions, Bryony Windsor, and I had an informal discussion in the Gallery with the other artists and the public.

Find out more about the Here & Now exhibition. The beautiful, fully illustrated catalogue is now available from the exhibition or by mail order.

Image: Electric Egg courtesy of NCCD

Image: Electric Egg courtesy of NCCD

Lecture at UCA Farnham by Keiko Kawashima

Keiko Kawashima, Director of the highly influential Gallery Gallery in Kyoto, gave a presentation at UCA Farnham on 3rd October. Keiko Kawashima has been a long time colleague and co-ordinator in Japan for all the Anglo-Japanese projects undertaken by the International Textile Research Centre, and so it was a great pleasure to welcome her. The presentation was part of Farnham Craft Week and so open to the public as well as students and it was very well attended. Keiko spoke about the importance of textiles within Japanese culture and then went on to describe an exhibition of contemporary Noren (cloth room dividers) she had curated for Kyoto Arts Centre in 2015. The variety of work for a single theme was extremely interesting and inspiring.

Contextile 2016

I was very honoured to be asked to give the Keynote Paper at the 3rd Contextile Biennale Conference in Guimaraes, Portugal on 23rd September. I had previously given a Paper at the 1st Contextile in 2012 and was really pleased to return and meet colleagues again. The theme of the conference was 'What Place Is This?' and I had been asked to address the theme of 'Cloth and Memory' - a theme with which I am extremely familiar! The textile exhibitions throughout the city of Guimaraes were beautifully installed and very interesting. As at all events of this kind, the chances to meet artists and academics from all over the world and discuss those ideas about which we are passionate is wonderful.

August 2016 Update


Here & Now

We have completed the writing and editing of the catalogue and it is looking fantastic. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday October 1st and many of the exhibiting artists will be on hand to discuss their work. Also Caron Penney will be giving a workshop during the day and be 'in discussion' with Bryony Wilson, Head of Exhibitions at NCCD and me over lunchtime. Full details from info@nationalcraftanddesign.org.uk

Erotic Cloth Book

Almost all the chapters have been received and Alice Kettle and I are slowly reading through, and writing our Introduction. Such interesting thinking around the subject - it is going to be an amazing book (due out late 2017).

Contextile 2016

Delighted to have been asked to present a paper at the Contextile 2016 Conference 'What Place Is This' 23rd and 24th September in Guimaraes, Portugal. And most excited that the other Keynote is Janet Echelman whose work (and TED talk) I find incredibly inspiring. For information:


Travels in France

Two exhibitions worth making the trip to see (I did and loved them both):

Retournac: An exhibition of work by Lost in Lace artist Annie Bascoul titled 'Vivre et Rêver… En Dentelle' at the Le Musée de Manufactures de Dentelles de Retournac. Her dresses and their shadows hold the form of the absent body. 

There is also another opportunity to see her work from Lost in Lace - 'Moucharabieh' and 'Jardin de lit, lit de jardin'. The exhibition continues to 15th December. 

Aigues Mortes: An artist I have wanted to work with for many years but he is always too busy. It is Motoi Yamamoto who creates large scale, site specific floor based installations from salt. This time he is working in the ramparts of a medieval town whose wealth was built on salt. The 2 Yamamoto's are spectacular - the first created by addition (the lace work) and the second by taking the salt away (the labyrinth).

Walking the ramparts to see the works in the towers, slipping on the stones worn away by the feet of those who have walked the ramparts for hundreds of years, and looking out to the salt mounds at the edges of the water beyond - I can't imagine a more perfect setting for his work. (Image)

International Textile Research Centre News

The ITRC is delighted to congratulate Gail Baxter and Carol Quarini on the completion of their PhD studies. Both were awarded their Doctorate in February 2016 for:

Dr Gail Baxter
Re-Viewing lace in archives: Connecting the lacunae.

Dr Carol Quarini
The domestic veil: exploring the net curtain through the uncanny and the gothic.

Dr Baxter now has a part time Research Fellowship at Nottingham Trent University and Dr Quarini has begun to Supervise her own MPhil/PhD student at UCA.

Gail Baxter: : Reading shadows (detail) - Obscured information

Gail Baxter: : Reading shadows (detail) - Obscured information

Carol Quarini: Marking Time

Carol Quarini: Marking Time


Kawaii update - February 2016

The exhibition has been and gone at Farnham and was very successful, with almost 7,000 visitors. It is now at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and looks very different as the gallery is circular. Chika Ohgi's cherry blossom looks particularly spectacular and Everywhere Teddy now has shining eyes! Rugby has an energetic outreach programme and the Education Area is very much a part of the exhibition space. As of writing the Cosplay competition is still to happen, which I am looking forward to seeing but not taking part in...I will report back here. Also jeweller Makiko Minewaki's workshops. After Rugby the exhibition will return to Japan and we are very hopeful that it will be shown there - again updates on this News page.

Contemporary International Tapestry Exhibition - 1 October

'Here & Now' opening at the NCCD. Sleaford Lincolnshire 1st October 2016

I am very honoured to have been asked by the National Centre for Craft and Design to curate the first international contemporary tapestry exhibition in England since the one I took part in at the Barbican in 1994. The selection process is now completed and I am happy to list the participating artists, which includes some very exciting work from Japan:

  • Joan Baxter (UK)
  • Sara Brennan (UK)
  • Jilly Edwards (UK)
  • Yasuko Fujino (Japan)
  • Barbara Heller (Canada)
  • Fiona Hutchinson (UK)
  • Aino Kajaniemi (Finland)
  • Valerie Kirk (Australia)
  • Ieva Krumina (Latvia)
  • Rolands Krutovs (Lativia)
  • Ai Ito (Japan)
  • Ayako Matsumura (Japan)
  • Caron Penney (UK)
  • Erin M. Riley (USA)
  • Fiona Rutherford (UK)
  • Kristin Sæterdal (Norway)
  • Philip Sanderson (UK)
  • Saori Sakiai (Japan)
  • Tonje Høydahl Sørli (Norway)
  • Pat Taylor (UK)
  • Misao Watanabe (Japan)


March 2 at University for the Creative Arts Farnham

A Symposium to accompany the exhibition 'What do I need to do to make it ok?' showing at the Crafts Study Centre UCA Farnham.

The keynote speakers for the symposium are the ceramic artist Bouke de Vries and the textile artist Freddie Robins. After a peer review process, the following speakers have been invited to present papers: Stella Adams; Charlotte Bilby; Colette Dobson; Marie Lefebvre; Marlene Little; Victoria Mitchell; Celia Pym and Claire Wellesley-Smith. Their subjects cover themes such as: anatomy; sustainability; prisoner quilts; photography; health and community.

Tickets : £45.00 / £15 Students and unwaged - includes lunch and must be booked and paid for in advance from the Crafts Study Centre: 01252 891450

Registration : 10.00am at the Crafts Study Centre - Symposium : 10.30am - 5.00pm - Reception : 5.00pm - 6.30pm - a reception and viewing of the accompanying exhibition will be held for symposium delegates.

Freddie Robbins - 'Basket Case'

Freddie Robbins - 'Basket Case'

NEWS - The Erotic Cloth book

Professor Alice Kettle and I are delighted to have been given the go-ahead from Bloomsbury Publishing for a book based on the colloquium last year: The Erotic Cloth. We are both so excited - watch for updates!

Kawaii: crafting the Japanese culture of cute NOW OPEN

The exhibition Private View at the James Hockey and Foyer Galleries at UCA Farnham was opened by UCA Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr on October 29. The exhibition looks terrific and reception was very well attended. We were delighted that the Director General of The Japan Foundation, seven of the artists, the Coordinator from Japan and the Senior Exhibitions Officer from Rugby Art Gallery and Museum (next venue) were also present.

The next day (October 30) we all met again for a seminar hosted by The Japan Foundation at Kensington Conference Centre in London. I had been invited to give an introduction to the exhibition followed by presentations by Kawaii artists Minako Nishiyama, Mitsuo Toyazaki and the Gendai-bijutsu Nitouhei partnership. We then had a very lively discussion with the 80 or so attendees, chaired by Professor Simon Olding, Director of the Crafts Study Centre.

On Saturday October 31, I led the first of the free curator's tours of the exhibition. There were 20 who had booked and several who joined as we went round. On both these public occasions I have been very interested in the range of ages, which has both surprised me and validated my thinking that the exhibition will appeal to a wide audience - from the young kawaii enthusiasts to the older craft aficionado and all who are interested in Japanese culture.

On November 13 we will hold a public seminar at which we will discuss the issues raised by the exhibition. 

UPDATE: KAWAII!!? - crafting the Japanese culture of cute


This project now has its dedicated section on the website and everything is moving along. The catalogue is almost ready to go off for printing and looks terrific. All the artists have written in Japanese and English about their understanding of what is Kawaii, which is really interesting to read, particularly as there are as many understandings of Kawaii as there are artists in the exhibition! There are also contributions from Jessica Litherland, Senior Exhibitions Officer at Rugby Art Gallery, our partner venue, who is very knowledgeable about Kawaii and who has been incredibly helpful to me as I learnt about the various and many aspects of the culture; and from Mikako Sawada, a Japanese freelance journalist with a keen interest in Kawaii.

The stop press on the exhibition is that exhibiting artist Minako Nishiyama will be undertaking a residency at UCA Farnham for the two weeks before the exhibition. During this time she will create her installation of sugar paste roses. She will also be giving a lecture about her work - date and time to be announced here.

Recent activities - visit to Marian Bijlenga in Amsterdam

I had the great good fortune to be invited by Marian Bijlenga to visit her at her studio in Amsterdam as preparation for a text she has asked me to write for a monograph chronicling her 30 years as an artist. Her studio was an oasis of calm in a baking hot, tourist filled Amsterdam and it was a great privilege to look closely at so many of her works from very early ones to the latest, and to discuss them with her. It was particularly interesting to see some of the 30 miniatures she has recently created to represent a work or series of works from those 30 years, each one a tiny and complete version of a larger work. 


West Dean Tapestry Symposium 2015: skill-based making in the contemporary art world.

Next year I will be working with the National Centre for Craft and Design in Lincolnshire in the curation of an international tapestry exhibition due to open at the NCCD in October. This will be the first such major exhibition in England since 1994 and I am very excited to be involved. Therefore it was extremely timely to be invited to present a paper at the West Dean Tapestry Symposium and I was delighted to take part. There was an excellent turnout, with many of our most eminent tapestry artists in the audience. Anne Jackson and Shelly Goldsmith both spoke in depth about the ways in which their work has developed over the years whilst retaining its original research focus. There were also presentations from West Dean Studio weavers Katherine Swailes and Philip Sanderson described the balance between the Studio commissions and their own work. Other presentations were by Yvonna Demczynska who spoke about the promotion and selling of textiles in her Gallery Flow; and by Dr Liz Clay who described the progress and outcome of her collaboration as a felt artist with two Aubusson tapestry weavers. I wound up the day by reminding us of our recent history and discussing ways in which tapestry weaving can reflect contemporary social and political ideas. The event was followed by a viewing of the exhibition 'Hellreaf'.  

Transparent Boundaries nominated for a THELMA

I am absolutely delighted that the EU Transparent Boundaries project has been nominated for the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award 2015 most innovative and original initiative in knowledge exchange. For Higher Education in the UK this is an equivalent to an Oscar nomination!

Transparent Boundaries is a project that has been incredibly important for me personally. It was built on my previous research (Lost in Lace) and developed beyond my dreams. We are a small university with great strengths in our specialism's, and through those specific particularities we have created a truly innovative initiative, bringing together specialist organisations from across Europe. I am particularly pleased that many of my PhD and MA students and also textile staff were involved in the project, which created a real sense of 'ownership' from the University and the School.

      The project set out to answer the question 'Where are the older people and why doesn’t society recognise them more in popular culture?' At a time of an increasing, and increasingly, older population who are only represented in the media when there are problems, Transparent Boundaries aimed to provide a platform for positive, creative outcomes. The project brought together craft practice (textiles) and performance arts (dance, singing). Younger artists/practitioners worked side by side with older people to find ways in which the creative contribution of the Elder would be visible and disseminated to the wider population.

The Award Ceremony will be on June 18th in London - and although winning would be wonderful, the nomination itself is a fantastic validation of a project that made an actual, rather than a theoretical, difference to people's lives.

for further information, see the Transparent Boundaries project page or visit the website: www.transparentboundaries.com