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In my practice, I seek to alter the perception and value structure of the materials, tools and technologies I explore in my research by orchestrating a series of experimental zero waste deconstructivist methods with waste hosiery. Craft is a key ingredient and a driving force behind my approach to making sustainable textiles and my engagement with material activism creates a certain amount of independence away from the closed system of traditional material development.
Using a set of constructed situations with the intention to produce an sustainable solution or pathway. I purposely administer a series of disruptions that not only reimagines and transforms this waste stream into new materials and forms but it also serves to disrupt the order and modes of communication we often associate with women's hosiery (pantyhose). My research is motivated by the history of this material resource yet I am driven to decolonize and shift this narrative off the legs of women into other territories where it can be experienced on and off the body. It has been through my deconstructivist approach to making sustainable textiles that I have been able to generate new applications and an association with hosiery by showcasing the valuable role that waste textiles has to offer as a creative material resource and tool for research.
The implementation of deconstructivist methods through a zero waste philosophy has spearheaded a series of individual and collective collaborative processes impacting my understanding of the importance of material identity in the making of textiles and fashion. The modes of production used to transform this waste resource continues to be reimagined and adapted through a craft minded approach. Due to the inconsistent nature in working with textile waste, the hybrid approach and solutions that have emerged are a combined series of methods that often includes the use of craft applications with obsolete sewing/ textile machinery, resulting in a completely zero waste upcycled textile that has the ability to be further translated into clothing, accessories, sculpture and installations.
The textile that emerges from this process reflects a narrative of obsolescence and an evolution in craft. The experimental nature of my research has also incorporated other methods of disruption where improvisation and makeshift applications are combined with digital technology. It is from this space that craft informed how I came to establish an alternate design system and business model.
My practice in the field of textiles, fashion, craft and contemporary art is liminally positioned between that of artist, designer, craftsperson, engineer, researcher, archeologist, alchemist, ecologist, DJ, entrepreneur, educator and keeper of the earth. The intention of my research and of this PhD is to emphasise and capture the importance of craft in the alchemic transformation and upcycling of waste textiles. I will document each process using various methods (drawing, photography, material explorations, collage, note taking, etc). I will be looking to showcase how craft has the ability to activate, shape shift and reimagine itself in the obsolete and the discarded. How it disrupts and contributes to innovation, alternate methods, new pathways and outcomes. The research, outcomes and new knowledge that will be generated is meant to contribute to the growing discourse of material activism and upcycling as a sustainable design research method. It is also an opportunity to further expand upon a design system and reflective research tool for working with textile waste which is referred to as M.E.N.D.
I am a Canadian/UK artist, designer and educator who specialises in regenerative textile and fashion research where craft and obsolete sewing and textile technology are used to reimagine textile waste. I have dedicated the past 20 years to a material activist practice by transforming textile industry waste through an interdisciplinary approach to upcycling. The result is the creation of new textiles and forms that repositions craft and technology as a way to record and develop new geographies of making. My experimental textile design studio and label Sans Soucie was instrumental in developing a signature line of upcycled textiles out of pre-consumer waste hosiery that were made into clothing, accessories 3D forms and installations. I have sold and exhibited in Canada, USA, Japan, China, Hong Kong, UK and Australia.
As an educator, my role in higher education began in 2005 teaching sustainability and textiles in fashion. This evolved to teaching in art and design departments due to the interdisciplinary nature of my practice and entrepreneurial approach. I was the Visiting Lecturer in Textiles at the Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University (Atlanta, Georgia) and contributed to the development of a BDes in Fashion Design (sustainable practices, craft and textiles) as the previous Program Director of Fashion at LaSalle College in Canada.
I am currently co-teaching a Sustainability short course at Central Saint Martins and am an Associate Lecturer in Sustainable Textiles at the University of the Creative Arts in the UK.