Participatory Needlework as Tangible and Intangible Heritage

Sinclair, Rose; Shercliffe, Emma and Dillon, Lorna. 2023. 'Participatory Needlework as Tangible and Intangible Heritage'. In: Association for Art History 2023 Annual Conference. University College London, United Kingdom 12 - 14 April 2023. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Since the start of the twenty-first century, there has been a resurgence of interest in participatory textile processes (Shercliff and Holroyd 2020). Needlework groups are emerging as knots in a supranational art movement. A ‘textiles turn’ has occurred that raises new questions about alternative art histories, notably those of fibre art practitioners outside a Eurowestern context, such as Cecilia Vicuña, the Tejedoras de Mampuján, Memorarte and Nengi Omuku. This session explores needlework as a practice, a methodology or an object of study. Crucially, we seek to expand existing scholarship tracing different threads that run through the transversal and heterogeneous networks of textile artists and sewing groups emerging across the globe. We disregard structural biases in the art world, dissolving the dichotomy between individual artists and grass-roots embroiderers or patchwork quilters.

We called for papers on participatory and artistic needlework practices that consider the economic, historical, political, and creative contexts for sewing groups, or the haptic and visual quality of quilts, embroideries, appliqués and other kinds of textile- based practices. For example: How does the materiality of fabric lend itself to activism and memorialisation? What role do embroidery, appliqué and quilting play in voicing responses to health and humanitarian crises, conflicts, and human rights abuses around the world? How does the therapeutic element of needlework practices sit within the art world? What is the relationship between the labour of needlework and identity? In what ways can participatory needlework projects be considered as tangible and intangible heritage?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Panel)

Additional Information:

49th Annual Conference taking place in-person over three days at University College London.


intangible , textiles, needlework, culture, memoralisation

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13 April 2023Completed

Event Location:

University College London, United Kingdom

Date range:

12 - 14 April 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Mar 2024 09:44

Last Modified:

28 Mar 2024 09:44


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