Tactile too factfile 2013

tactile too fact-file


TACTILE TOO is a contemporary textiles handling resource, showcasing the work of emerging Northwest textile makers. The TACTILE TOO resource is part of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s handling collection. It can be used alongside the existing contemporary textiles TACTILE resource in the gallery, or used in a college or university setting. Both resources will be available for students and practising textile makers to look at, handle and gain inspiration from. The TACTILE TOO handling resource serves to teach students about creative practice and encourage them to experiment with new techniques, as well as gain an understanding of career paths.

Transcript of Tactile too factfile 2013


The commissioned works for TACTILE TOO for 2012-13 explore ideas around the theme of textiles told: revealing practice and imaginatively demonstrate how textiles can convey powerful messages using a range of innovative techniques and evocative materials.

What tales are to be unravelled?

Find out more about tactile textile resources on the blog and websites below:


textiles told: revealing practiceUsing textile materials in surprising ways, to be playful and express ideas are all common approaches used by the selected TACTILE TOO artists. All of the four textile makers are either based in or have been trained in the North West. It is exciting to see such a breadth of talent emerging from recent graduates from the region.

The artists are:

Laura-Jane Atkinson

Emma Blackburn

Karen Casper

Chloe Hamill

Textiles are a core part of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s collections, and are made up of both historic and modern textiles. It is the largest and most comprehensive collection of flat textiles outside London, containing some 20,000 objects, which range in date from the 3rd century AD to the present day.

Textiles provoke a need to touch them, to gain a sense of how they feel, as well as a curiosity about how they were made and with what materials. This primal instinct to touch, play with, experience and interrogate, has led the Gallery to explore different tactile ways to engage with the works. One of the most innovative and successful approaches has been the development of a handling resource called TACTILE.

TACTILE was launched in 2009 with two focuses – Lines of Thought and Extraordinary Textiles. Some of the UK’s best-known and innovative textile makers were commissioned to produce works for TACTILE. The artists who explored ideas for Lines of Thought were Polly Binns, Michael Brennand-Wood, Shelly Goldsmith, Alice Kettle, Eleri Mills, Lesley Mitchison, Lynn Setterington and Michele Walker. They all produced works based around the notion of the crossover between textiles, drawing and pattern. The Extraordinary Textiles TACTILE commissions highlight textiles by Elizabeth Couzins Scott, Colette Gilmartin and Vicki Wheeler, that show their processes of working as well as changing our perceptions of everyday objects. TACTILE is designed to be used in the Gallery.

TACTILE TOO is a contemporary textiles handling resource, showcasing the work of emerging Northwest textile makers. The TACTILE TOO resource is part of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s handling collection. It can be used alongside the existing contemporary textiles TACTILE resource in the gallery, or used in a college or university setting. Both resources will be available for students and practising textile makers to look at, handle and gain inspiration from. The TACTILE TOO handling resource serves to teach students about creative practice and encourage them to experiment with new techniques, as well as gain an understanding of career paths.



Laura-Jane Atkinson’s practice during her degree course scrutinized the links between mathematics and embroidery, with meticulously formed patterns embroidered onto unlikely hard surfaces. It is the juxtaposition of soft textile processes and hard materials which she continues to investigate as an artist, with a strong relationship with product design too.

Atkinson layers up soft textile imagery by developing traditional embroidered samplers, prints and weaves. These processes work into and onto hard surfaces, which are further embellished using materials such as wood vinyl, electrical tape, plastic lacing and rope in the embroidery processes. This approach completely transforms a soft surface into a textured, highly visual hard material.

Laura reinterprets these processes working and experimenting with wood. In the past, Laura has worked on a large scale with either single planks or large pieces of wood. She applies similar approaches to her practice, using different techniques such as screen-printed pattern, which appears like embroidery and using wood like binca fabric, drilling holes for threads to be sewn. These embellished wooden lengths work as screens, inserts for a table, and stair treads, as well as textile works of art. Atkinson exploits scale, the qualities of physical materials and repetition to investigate and develop demonstrative hard and flexible surfaces in and out of hardwearing materials in response to the selected traditional processes and their respective characteristics.

For TACTILE TOO, Atkinson has employed similar approaches and techniques, experimenting with size in scaled-down works; for example, she produced smaller wooden samples, employing vinyl tape and hand-cut patterned wood vinyl for similar effects.

For this commission, Laura has developed surfaces based on the juxtaposition between traditional textile processes (including embroidery, print, weave and knit) and hardwearing materials. The focus is placed on reinventing techniques by combining, layering and subverting traditional textile processes, imagery, patterns and methodologies.

Laura-Jane Atkinson



Atkinson has employed a variety of processes of enquiry:

cut into sequins


Materials: Wood, wood vinyl veneer, electrical tape, plastic lacing, rope, hi vis fabric, transparent pvc and embroidery threads

Techniques: Embroidery, appliqué, screen-printing, couching, stencilling, drilling, weaving and knit

Web Links:http://cargocollective.com/laurajaneatkinsonhttp://degreeshow.mmu.ac.uk/2012/Laura-JaneAtkinson/http://www.samplercultureclash.org.uk/http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/hand-stitch-perspectives- 9781408123416

Whitworth Links:Extraordinary Textiles, TACTILE Vicki WheelerLadder and samples using found ladder, net, bulldog clips, balloons and electrical tape2009Follow link below to find Vicki’s Wheeler’s Tactile Fact-file pdfhttp://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/learning/post16/tactile/

TextilesSpectatorsLucienne DayHeal Fabrics LtdScreen-printed cotton1953Accession No. T.10579.2http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=24533

Modern ArtInterior at Oakwood CourtHoward HodgkinOil on wood1978-1983Accession No. O.1983.9http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=4641

Further information


Emma Blackburn’s work aims to encourage people to think differently about fragmented, ‘dead’ and hidden objects and their connection with the past. She is particularly interested in how textile curators interpret, conserve and present historic textiles. As such the majority of her practice has responded to specific places, including country houses, museums and galleries and their collections and archives.

Using traditional hand embroidery techniques, screen-printing, dyeing and digital print technology, Blackburn draws attention to the dramatic relationship between old and new; past and present; permanence and fragility. The passage of time is presented through decoration, pattern, layering, shadows, and solid and translucent materials. Historic research is an important part of informing Blackburn’s practice. She has researched and made work in response to the collection of Coptic textiles held at the Whitworth Art Gallery. This is a vast collection of textile fragments collected from various burial sites in Upper Egypt dating back to the first millennium AD. Most of the items are incomplete or disintegrated during burial.

The children’s tunics often display erratic criss-cross darning, which was used to patch up holes in worn-out garments and to decorate the clothing by creating beautiful patterns. This type of pattern darning is seen in children’s tunics, possibly as the garments were made from de-constructed adults’ clothing.

Emma Blackburn



“The children’s tunics hold poignancy, an unsettling sense of bereavement and loss. The essence of the wearer remains in the garment through the textile’s ability to hold the shape of the body. It’s stretched, stained and decomposed state shares traces of human existence.” Emma Blackburn

For the TACTILE TOO commission, Blackburn has created a child’s tunic. An important message in her work is the fragile relationship between life and death, or more specifically in this commission, the life and death of cloth. Interestingly, in Ancient Egypt, the words “weaving” and “being” are the same. The Goddess Iris is seen as the “life-giver” and portrayed as a weaver, wearing a red sash where red signifies

she views the creation of the dress as moving from nothing to something. The front of the tunic displays

Should the garments be left to rest like their previous wearers, or should they be preserved for us to understand how our ancestors lived?

Blackburn is currently working as an embroiderer for Alice Kettle and an Art & Design Mentor at Manchester Metropolitan University, alongside developing her practice on the MA in Textiles course at MMU.



pigment, discharge and bleach

Techniques:Hand embroidery techniques, braiding – macramé and tablet weaving, screen-printing, dyeing, dressmaking and digital print technology

Web Links:http://www.aa2a.org/artists/emma_blackburn

Whitworth Links:Shelly Goldsmith, TACTILE2009Follow link below to find Shelly Goldsmith’s Tactile Fact-file pdfhttp://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/learning/post16/tactile/

TextilesChild’s tunicEgyptian800-999Accession No. T.8549http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=22585

GownSyrian, unattributed1875 – 1924Accession No. T.15120http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=28362

Tangs (camel girths)Goat hair in ply-split braidingIndia1960-77Accession No. T.2002.57 & 58)

Palm TreeErrol PiresCotton in ply-split braiding2005Accession No. T.2013.3

BooksPritchard, Frances. Clothing Culture: Dress in Egypt in the First Millennium AD. Manchester, 2006.

Further information


Karen Casper is a recent Contemporary Textiles graduate. She produces innovative and beautiful tactile pieces of work. Using traditional textile techniques and vintage aesthetics Casper injects contemporary technology producing exciting futuristic pieces that ultimately create an art and fashion crossover. Her work covers a number of genres; costume, editorials, gallery installations and commercial markets as part of her textile label Tulle and Candyfloss.

Casper thrives on working with a range of mixed media, which includes embroidery, screen and digital print. Techniques include devoré, quilting, embroidery, fabric manipulation and embellishment to produce unique contemporary textiles. She has a passion for all things vintage and wherever possible Casper tries to incorporate this into her work by embellishing with vintage items, whether that be lace or buttons.

Casper Iikes to experiment, explore and push the development of her samples, which is an important part of the design process, mixing traditional techniques with new ones. She particularly enjoys working with a theme. In the past, Casper has used fairytale enchantment, childhood memories, vintage fairground and underwater world as inspiration.

For the textile piece titled Underwater Love meets Primal Futurism, Casper explored the environmental issues which threaten coral reefs and their habitats, such as pollution, destructive fishing practice, overfishing, careless tourism and the subsequent effect this damage has on sea life. This work represents the textures, colours and contours of the underwater world, creating ‘preserved textiles’. The ideas were presented as a cape, which Casper refers to as Miss Coral. The cape reflects the growth and cultivation of the natural world, using traditional textile techniques and vintage materials injected with contemporary technology to create something otherworldly. Miss Coral represents the ‘day’ colours of certain coral species with the glow in the dark ‘night’ version representing the electric creatures of the abyss.

For the TACTILE TOO commission, Casper has used the same techniques, inspiration and concept that was used for the cape, changing the form to that of a bodice. Once again the bodice takes on one character for the day and another for the evening, fully employing the potential of the glow-in-the-dark specialist threads, which are woven into the coral-like structure.

Casper is currently studying for the MA in textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is attracting much attention for her bespoke head wear designs, which use similar techniques to her contemporary textile works and has been commissioned for bridal and special occasion wear and television’s X-Factor Live tour in 2013.

You are able to see Casper’s work at the N.E.C.’s Fashion and Embroidery Exhibition in March 2013 and

Karen Casper




Materials: Vintage garments, lace, buttons, pearls, tulle, latex, threads, glow-in-the-dark thread, velvet, wire and dissolvable embroidery fabric

Techniques: Machine embroidery, dissolvable fabric embroidery, latex moulding, digital printing, wire sculpting, devore, quilting and fabric manipulation

Web Links:http://www.tulleandcandyfloss.co.uk/https://twitter.com/karencasper1http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tulle-and-Candyfloss-Textile-Design/117661504990862http://tulleandcandyfloss.blogspot.co.uk/

Whitworth Links:Lesley Mitchison, TACTILE 2009Follow link below to find Lesley Mitchison’s Tactile Fact-file pdfhttp://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/learning/post16/tactile/

TextilesMachine Chantilly lace shawlFrench1850-1874Accession No. T.10013http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=20876

Italian1575-1624Accession No. T.8908http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=20801

Fine Art

SwitzerlandJoseph Mallord William TurnerWatercolour1841Accession No. D.1887.16http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=16

Modern ArtNourishmentMichael LandyEtching on Paper2002Accession No. L.2005.12

Further information


Chloe Hamill is passionate about using art to give a voice to women who do not have the opportunity to express themselves freely. Social interactions are a key aspect of Hamill’s working process. In fact, interactions play a role throughout her practice, from the inception of the idea through to open creative discussion; the inclusion of the co-collaborator’s stitch to the viewer’s interaction with the final three-dimensional object.

Hamill is keen to illustrate the process of collaboration and research, as well as traditional sampling and the drawing process of idea development, as she feels they are of equal importance to the expansion of her ideas. She has worked collaboratively with groups of women across the world and enjoys dual benefits of using embroidery as a medium for social engagement and development of her practice.

Hamill has pursued collaborative embroidery work with refugees, asylum seekers, women in Kosovo and women rescued from sex trafficking in India, with the aim of using embroidery as a tool of empowerment and design. The artist researches individual testimonies through personal interaction in conjunction with statistical information to inform her visualization of sampling.

beautifully stitched pieces that, on further inspection, reveal subverted imagery as a metaphor for the on-going stories of women that go unnoticed in our society.

At the time of the TACTILE TOO commission, Hamill had a chance encounter with a remarkable 95-year-old woman (whose pseudonym is Hilda Feather), who became the inspiration for Textiles Told. It was through chatting about their shared love of embroidery that Hamill found out about Hilda Feather’s incredible past. Hilda Feather was the first woman from her school to attend the University of Oxford; she won a place but nearly turned down the opportunity because she couldn’t afford it. During World War Two, Feather helped to rescue female Jews from Germany by swapping places with them on an exchange, but the women never returned to Germany, remaining in England.

Chloe Hamill



For TACTILE TOO Hamill was interested in the idea that we are walking backwards into our future, while some are looking back at their past. These thoughts connected with Feather’s tales and Hamill’s textiles practice with a focus on opportunities for women, from the 1940s to the present day, providing a voice for Manchester women.

Currently Hamill is working with the Design Lab to create a collaborative piece around valuing older people using a combination of screen print and machine embroidery, which is a motif within her practice. She is studying the MA course in Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Materials: Fair Trade organic cotton, linen, thread, metallic threads and kapok

Techniques:Writing, researching, drawing, machine stitch, multihead, screen printing, three-dimensional construction, piping, appliqué, hand stitch and collaboration

Web Links:http://www.chloehamill.co.uk/About.htmlhttp://creativeboom.co.uk/news/a-stitch-in-time-for-female-refugees/http://www.artsthread.com/p/chloehamill/http://degreeshow.mmu.ac.uk/2012/ChloeHamill/http://www.noisefestival.com/user/chloehamillyahoocomhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5avn6TVvjUhttp://www.cornerhouse.org/art/art-exhibitions/ rashid-rana

Whitworth Links:Lynn Setterington, TACTILE 2009Follow link below to find Lynn Setterington’s Tactile Fact-file pdfhttp://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/learning/post16/tactile/Textiles

TextilesFukusa with sparrows and grainJapanese1800 – 1899Accession No. T.12872http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=36355

Plain sewing sampler

c. 1913Accession No. T.2002.7http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=40108

Sampler,Elizabeth Jones1829Accession No. T.1992.18http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=37237

WallpaperUne Génération de Femmes Zineb Sedira1997Accession No. W.1999.15.1http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ advsearch/objdispextra/?irn=30613

Further information


TACTILE and TACTILE TOO are free and can be used anywhere in the galleries.

TACTILE TOO can be booked to use in your college or university.

Please phone us on either 0161 275 7453 or 0161 275 8455 to arrange a booking.

Find out more about tactile textile resources on the blog below:http://tactiletextileresources.wordpress.com/

Whitworth Art GalleryOxford Road | Manchester

t: 0161 275 7450e: [email protected]

Opening times:Mon to Sat 10am-5pmSun 12pm-4pm

How to book

Karen Casper’s image: courtesy of Ian McManusAll other images: courtesy of Alan SeabrightDesigned by Epigram