When the idea of a Textile Society UK first emerged in the 1980s, founding Chair Lou Taylor recalls the ‘impenetrable’ academic voids that existed between university textile historians and makers/designers. But as the society established its roots in 1982 and built its foundations, Hazel Clark of Parsons School of Design, New York describes the ‘energetic and collaborative space’ that the society has come to engender; ‘to share and publish new research and ideas’ and ‘weave us all together across time and space’.
That energy and commitment has grown year on year as new committee members have picked up the baton and continued to move the society forward, responding to changes and developments in the subject over 40 years.
Members continue to benefit from the annual journal Text that brings together a wealth of fascinating and informative articles.
The 2022 40th Anniversary edition of Text is an affirmation of the Textile Society’s aim to promote the study of textiles in all its forms; crossing boundaries from art, craft and design to history, ethnography, science and conservation. Articles span 18th century brocades (Michael Nix) to the conservation of electronic and digital fashion (Leanne Tonkin). Projects receiving financial support from the society – by students, researchers, museums and creative practitioners – demonstrate the breadth of thought and depth of exploration in the field. Investigations move from visions of knit as architectural structures (Lissy Hatfield) to seeded substrates for soilless cultivation systems (Alice Marie Archer). Textile artists look to other cultures for new understanding and inspiration, from the tactility of Japanese paper cloth (Eleanor Burkett) to the poignancy of embroideries stitched by World War One wounded servicemen (Frances Casey). Museum professionals continue to reach out to new audiences, engaging visitors in the personal histories of WREN’s uniforms at the National Maritime Museum (Joanne Horton), to the dark connections between court costumes at Paxton House and the sugar plantations of Grenada (Fiona Murrell).
These contributions represent just a few examples of new knowledge disseminated by the Textile Society through its publications. And they reflect the breadth of innovation supported by funds raised from the society’s annual antique and vintage textile fairs in London and Manchester. Further details of the Textile Society, its Awards and Bursaries Scheme and all of its events and activities are available on its website and social media channels. New members are welcome to join its growing community. https://www.textilesociety.org.uk