CALL FOR PAPERS: Participatory Needlework as Tangible and Intangible Heritage

Exciting news! Three Stitching Together colleagues – Lorna Dillon (Cambridge University), Emma Shercliff (Arts University Bournemouth) and Rose Sinclair (Goldsmiths, University of London) – are proposing a conference session for the Association for Art History’s 2023 annual conference. Details are below and you can find out more about the conference here. Please consider submitting a paper to our session, and please circulate the info to your networks. We look forward to receiving submissions! Thank you!


Association for Art History’s 2023 Annual Conference

12-14 APRIL 2023
University College London

Session: Participatory Needlework as Tangible and Intangible Heritage 

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 call 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? 

Please email your paper proposals directly to the session convenors:

Lorna Dillon, University of Cambridge,
Emma Shercliff, Arts University Bournemouth,
Rose Sinclair, Goldsmiths, University of London, 

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 20-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the digital programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks.

Deadline for submissions: 4 November 2022

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