I have been collecting, studying and lecturing about world textiles for over twenty years. I have studied rare and historic examples of textiles from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas in the collections of the British Museum, the V&A Museum, The Textile Museum (Washington), AEDTA (Paris) and the Pitt-Rivers Museum (Oxford). I have good professional relationships with leading textile experts and researchers. I have a handling collection for use in lectures, and many fascinating unpublished images.
Textiles and tradition: in most world cultures, specific textiles are used to mark important rites of passage. The bedding for a newlywed couple, the clothes of a newborn infant, and the textiles used at funerals are rich in significance. They wrap the user in techniques and patterns that link them to their own culture and distinguish them from outsiders, reinforcing their identity at a time of transition.
- Textiles and modernity: because textiles are used as signs of identity, they are also an area for expressing changing ideas and changing social relationships. Imported textiles take the place of locally-made ones; traditional embroideries incorporate motifs from other cultures. Traditional textile techniques are reworked in new materials and in new formats to suit new ways of life.
The tension between tradition and modernity has been a feature of textile design for hundreds of years, and continues to stimulate artists and designers today.