Claire Barber has pursued a peripatetic career since her graduation from the Fine Art department of Royal College of Art in 1994 exhibiting widely and completing over twenty artist-in residency and commissioning models in the UK and across Eastern Europe, Australia and Japan. Most recently VIII Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, Museo Del Traje, Madrid, Spain (2019) and an installation presented at Contextile18 Contemporary Textile Art Biennale, Guimarães, Portugal (2018). Barber is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fashion and Textiles at the University of Huddersfield with an interest in the interconnection between place and the way people are connected to their surrounding environment.
The investigation of cultural traditions and vocabularies for textiles is a fundamental component of the creative practice using site-responsive methods of research. Incorporating a trans-disciplinary approach to creating in diverse forms including installation, photography, social engagement, collage and inflatable sculpture the artwork is not limited to a production using textile materials. Rather, it is her perception of textiles, and weave in particular, that directs how ideas are put together as an integral approach to an enquiry combining elements of industrial and historical studies and clothing design.
Barber has an ongoing interest in working with manufacturing technologies as demonstrated in previous projects in the public realm including You Are the Journey (2006-8) involving the redesign of the front of the Hythe Ferry Ten-Journey Ticket; Mining Couture (2012) exploring the seemingly unrelated realms of fashion and coal mining industries at the former Snibston Discovery Museum in Leicestershire and One to Twenty (2012) combining the two dimensions of a fireman’s glove pattern produced at Southcombe Brothers in Yeovil with the four dimensionalities of a bouncy castle. A large-scale commission for Hull City of Culture 2017 presented at Hull Paragon Station called The Train Track and the Basket (2017) commemorates the historical route of transmigration from Eastern Europe to America, and the woven baskets carried by migrants passing through Hull. Woven textiles enabled her to think about patterns of motion overlaid with one another each time someone enters or exits the station building. Currently Barber is Artist-in-Residence at Bolton Museums as part of the ArtivistGM programme with the aim to join archivists and artists together in bringing heritage collections to life. In this process the consideration of the surface design of the cloth of a handkerchief has enabled her to connect back to the individuals who walked to central Manchester on the day of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 and the implicit tactile understanding many would have acquired in the handling of textile materials directly as a creative link to communities’ individual experience.
Barber has demonstrated an ongoing eagerness in developing work in community and participatory settings. Since 2009 she has been involved in a series of Bradford-based projects with the curator and writer June Hill, notably The Sleeping Bag Project (2009-2013) a humanitarian venture that brought new significance to discarded sleeping bags remaining after a music festival in Leeds. More recently Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences (2019) used cloth to carry experiences of communities in Bradford. Bradford has been described as the archetypal post-industrial city. Tensions exist between different communities within this location; as counterpoint the engagement has drawn out the positives of living in a diverse community and individual perceptions of neighbourliness. Subsequently Barber and Hill curated the international exhibition Humanitarian Handicrafts (2019) outside the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre on the University of Huddersfield campus which showed powerful statements of creative resilience that embrace the difficulties and joys of crafting in different places all over the world.
Barber’s exposure to community contexts has led to a number of journal articles, papers, books and conference organisation. For example, the book co-edited with Penny Macbeth Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live (CSP 2014), explored the complex and multifaceted relationship humans have with cloth, and examined the constantly evolving fields of expression outside traditional gallery, institutional or campus settings. In 2016 she received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Publication in recognition of a programme of work entitled Cloth in Action: The Transformative Power of Cloth in Communities as evidence of her investigation into the significance of textiles as an aesthetic experience within a socially engaged form of practice, some of which involves other people.
CV & Education
2016 Doctor of Philosophy by Publication (PhD), University of Huddersfield for a programme of work entitled ‘Cloth in Action: The Transformative Power of Cloth in Communities’
2002 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), University of Southampton
2000-01 Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Art and Design (secondary), University of Brighton
1992-94 MA Fine Art (Tapestry), Royal College of Art, London
1989-92 BA (hons) Textiles (First class), West Surrey College of Art & Design, Farnham
2009- Senior Lecturer BA/BSc (hons) Textile Practice, University of Huddersfield
2001-09 Lecturer BA (hons) Textiles, Fashion and Fibre and MA Textiles, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
2004-06 Visiting Lecturer, MA Textile, Fashion & Surface Design, University of Central England
2004 Visiting Lecturer, BA (hons) Fine Art (Textiles), University College, Chichester
2001 Visiting Lecturer, Art and Design Foundation Diploma, Sussex Downs College
2017 The Train Track and the Basket, a series of 14 large scale vinyl’s applied to the semi-circular window spaces above the exit doors in the main entrance/exit vestibule of Hull Paragon Station exploring the 19th and 20th century ‘Transmigration’ phenomenon in Hull and presented as part of the project ‘Look-Up’, a major programme of temporary art commissions for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
2012 One to Twenty, a 13-foot inflatable sculpture inspired by Yeovil’s gloving industry and presented as part of ‘Maximum Exposure’ curatorial project exposing unknown aspects of Somerset. Commissioned and curated by Somerset Art Works. Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
2011 Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear, a collaborative project with Leicestershire’s County Council’s Snibston Discovery Museum and commissioned as part of the ‘Transform’ arts project developed by Maurice Maguire supported by Arts Council England and Leicestershire County Council. The commission resulted in site-conditional garments, large inflatable sculpture and an artist’s book (Black Dog, 2012) exploring the relationship between coal mining and fashion (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
2009 Littlemoor Wishes, a temporary installation created with the residents of Littlemoor during the building of the Weymouth Relief Road in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Littlemoor Wishes saw 2,400 households in the area receive a bag with tie clips, a pen and three laser-cut neoprene tags to write on their own wishes, desires, protests or hopes, with instructions to tie them onto the metal fencing surrounding the roadworks. Supported by Arts Council England and Public Art South West.
2008-9 You Are the Journey: North Staffordshire, a series of two batches of 367,000 tickets released on the ‘First Group’ fleet of buses leaving Hanley and Adderley Green depot in Stoke-on-Trent printed using thermos chromic inks upon which the warmth of human touch revealed layers of text from the tickets surface. A public art commission presented as part of ‘Place Space & Identity 2’ project by B Arts and funded by Arts Council West Midlands, Renew N.Staffordshire & Stoke County Council.
2005-6 You Are the Journey, a redesign of the Hythe Ferry Ten-Journey Ticket as a focus for reflection, combining the functionality of the ticket with an interactive public artwork supported by Arts Council England and SEEDA Award Scheme for Art in Public Places (collaboration with R.A.Webb).
2004 Stepping Lightly on 88 Pillows, a participatory installation located by a regularly-used pathway through Westonbirt Arboretum, inspired by the vulnerability of tree specimens and the robust protection they are provided in the Arboretum. Presented as part of Westonbirt Arboretum International Festival of the Gardens Art Programme, Gloucestershire with curatorial and arts advice by Sam Wilkinson and Sarah von Holstein.
2002 Hammocks, a collaborative project with The Samling Foundation as part of the ‘Land and the Samling’ arts project resulting in site conditional hammocks created during a residency at Kielder Forest in Northumberland and residential site-specific workshops at Kielder involving 60 ‘A’ level students from across Tyne and Wear.
1998 Untitled installation using feathers, acrylic and mirror in response to The Ark building in Hammersmith, West London and created as part of Seagram’s ‘Art in the Ark’ contemporary art collection presented by Contemporary Art Society Projects & commissioned by Seagram plc
1996 Four window screens created from dyed drakes’ feathers, pierced into silk mousseline organza and crepe georgette for the dining room of Belsay Hall, Northumberland as part of ‘Living at Belsay: A Contemporary Approach to Furnishing an Historic House’ project developed in partnership with English Heritage, Northern Arts and Northumberland County Council and supported by the Crafts Council.
1995 Untitled, an installation created from industrial knitted fibres for ‘FAST’ at the Exhibition Hall, Verona, Italy and presented by Susan Minter Design Consultancy & commissioned by Continental Fibre S.p.A
1994 Untitled, temporary 20-foot installation located at Habitat Kings Road flagship store in Central London.
Residencies, Fellowship & Community Activities
2019 Artist-in-Residence with Bolton Museum Archives as part of the ArtivistGM programme to create opportunities for archivists and artists to work collaboratively to bring collections to life and supported by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, GM Libraries & Archives, and Manchester Histories.
2019 Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences, a socially engaged artwork involving 2 x community centres in Inner City Bradford and supported by an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant (collaboration with June Hill and Leigh Bowser) https://blueplaquesofintangibleexperiences.com/
2006 Artist-in-Residence for the Conwy Estuary Strategic Route development project, supported Conwy Council Borough Council
2004 Artist-in-Residence at Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Wales
2003 Through the Surface Textile Artist exchange to Kyoto, Japan & mentee to Teruyoshi Yoshida and directed by Lesley Millar
2001 Artist-in-Residence at Bardsey Island in association with Bardsey Island Trust and Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales
1999 Artist-in-Residence at Northern Territories University, Darwin, Australia
1999 Workshops, Karulundi Aboriginal Educational Centre, Meekatharra, Australia
1999 Artist-in-Residence at Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, Western Australia
1999 Artist-in-Residence at The Tasmanian School of Art at Launceston, University of Tasmania, Australia
1998 Visual Arts Fellowship awarded jointly by the Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, London and Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
1998-9 Artist-in-Residence at Marlborough College, Wiltshire
1996-7 Pépinières Européenes Pours Jeunes Artistes residency in sculpture at Academy of Fine Arts & Design, Bratislava, Slovakia
1997 Artist-in-Residence at Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Kent
1996 Member of the Artists’ convoy to Bosnia to join Tuzla’s first annual festival of multi ethnic arts
1996 Artist-in-Residence at Acoomb First School, Northumberland
1996 Norbury Park Sculpture Weekend coordinated by Roman Vasseur and commissioned by Surrey County Council
1995 Artist-in-Residence at Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School, West Glamorgan, Wales
Selected Group and Solo Exhibitions
2019 VIII Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, Photography Textile Image Salon, Museo Del Traje, Madrid, Spain. Organised by the World Textile Art (WTA) association https://madrid2019.wta-online.org/
2019 Peterloo: Bolton Textile Works and the Fight for Democracy, Up Close Gallery, Bolton Museum, Bolton, curated by Matthew Watson
2019 Humanitarian Handicrafts, foyer of Holocaust Education and Learning Centre, University of Huddersfield, curated by June Hill
2018 Contextile 2018, Contemporary Textile Art Biennale, Palácio Vila Flor CCVF, Guimarães, Portugal
2016 Migrations, Huddersfield Art Gallery, West Yorkshire, curated by Jessica Hemmings
2016 Contextile 2016, Contemporary Textile Art Biennale, Palácio Vila Flor CCVF, Guimarães, Portugal
2016 Da Vinci Engineered: From Renaissance Mechanics to Contemporary Art, Zebedee’s Yard, Whitefriargate, Hull, curated by Lara Goodband
2015 Repetition Variation, Frameless Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Green, London, curated by Joanna Byrant and Julian Page
2015 Pinpoint 2, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, curated by Joanna Bryant and Lyndsey Keeling
2013 Pinpoint 1, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, curated by Polly Binns and Linda Brassington
2012 Hidden Voices: The Sleeping Bag Project, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate International Centre, curated by Claire Barber, June Hill and Charlotte Cullen
2012 Mining Couture, Huddersfield Art Gallery, West Yorkshire and Snibston Discovery Museum, Leicestershire – Barber Swindells
2012 One to Twenty, The Glove Factory, Yeovil, Somerset – Barber Swindells
2011-12 Bite-Size, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London tour to Gallery Gallery, Kyoto; Nagova University of the Arts, Tokyo, curated by Lesley Millar
2011 VI International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, Mexico City – Barber Swindells. Organised by the World Textile Art (WTA) association
2008 Art Vaults: Season 4, King John’s Palace, Southampton, Hampshire, curated by Daniel Crow
2006 Quiet Sound, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire, curated by Kate Stoddart
2005 Artsway Open 05, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire curated by Mark Segal
2004-5 Through the Surface, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, tour to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts; Piece Hall Art Gallery, Halifax; Nottingham Castle; The James Hockey Gallery, Farnham, curated by Lesley Mill
2004-5 River/Forest, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown Wales tour to Crichton House, Cardiff (two man show)
2004 Sharing Rose Bud Tea Across Continents, Fabrica, Brighton tour to Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax & the Yard Gallery, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, curated by Lesley Millar
2003 Art in Heaven, The Meeting House Chapel, University of Sussex, Brighton, curated by Unmarked
2003 Feather, Black Swan Arts, Frome, Somerset
2002 Land, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire curated by Mark Segal
2001 Roam, Coed Hills Rural Art Space, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, curated by Rawley Clay and Sarah Hilary-Jones
2000 Ideal Format # 10, 24Hr Art, Darwin, Australia
1999 Meelfabriek, Clinch’s Mill, Greenough Hamlet, Western Australia
1999 Tears to Wake the Flowers II, Watch This Space Gallery, Alice Springs, Australia (solo show)
1999 Tears to Wake the Flowers I, Northern Territories University Gallery, Darwin, Australia (solo show)
1999 The Red Gown, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, Western Australia (solo show)
1999 Residency, The University Gallery, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania (solo show)
1998 Red Brick, Mount House Art Gallery, Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wiltshire (solo show)
1998 Tempered, Fabrica, Brighton, curated by Liz Whitehead
1997 Contemporary Craft, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria
1997 The Last of the Dandelion Seeds, Gallery Cyprián Mayernik, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo show)
1996-98 Objects of Our Time, Crafts Council Touring Exhibition, Crafts Council Gallery, London tour to Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; Lynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Manchester City Art Gallery; American Craft Museum, New York, curated by Martina Margetts
1996 Living at Belsay: A Contemporary Approach to Furnishing an Historic House, Belsay Hall, Northumberland, curated by Judith King
1994 New Discoveries, Boundary Gallery, London
1992 Seventh Annual International Textile Contest, The Fashion Foundation, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
2006 Final Award Winner Art Plus 2006, Arts Council England and SEEDA Award Scheme for Art in Public Places – Barber & Webb
2005 Development Award Art Plus, Arts Council England and SEEDA Award Scheme for Art in Public Places – Barber & Webb
2003 Sponsored Studio Award, Art Space, Portsmouth
1996 East Midlands Arts Project Award
1992 British Finalist in Constructed Textiles, Seventh International Textile Design Contest, the Fashion Foundation, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
2018 Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear presented at “Representing popular street parade in the museum” symposium held at King’s Manor, University of York Tuesday 10 – Wed 11 July 2018.
2018 Mining Textiles presented at the 4th International Congress on Visual Culture held in Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Rome, Italy, Monday 28 May – Tuesday 29 May 2018.
2018 The Train Track and the Basket: The aesthetic dimension of textiles within a site-specific practice presented at “Textiles and Place” conference hosted by Manchester School of Art and the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Thursday 12 April 2018.
2017 The Train Track and the Basket presented at “Making Futures: Crafting a sustainable modernity towards a maker aesthetics of production and consumption” conference hosted by Plymouth College of Art, held at Mount Edgcumbe, Plymouth Thursday 21 – Friday 22 September 2017.
2017 The Transmigration Project attended as keynote speaker in the 3rd International Congress on Visual Culture hosted by Universitat Abat Oliba, Barcelona, Spain Monday 22 – Tuesday 23 May 2017.
2016 Ventilation Dress II at “The Art of Engineering”, The Engineering Professors’ Council, University of Hull Sun 4 – Tuesday 6 September 2016.
2015 Vanishing Textile Industries presented at “The Guild” symposium hosted by University of Leeds.
2015 Crafting the Community III presented at “Reaching the Summit Community Engaged Learning in Higher Education”, International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Conference hosted by Utah Valley University, USA Tuesday 20 – Thursday 22 January 2015.
2014 Craft in Unexpected Places presented at “Transition: Rethinking Textiles and Surfaces” hosted by University of Huddersfield (collaboration with Penny Macbeth).
2014 Air presented at the 32nd meeting of The Textile Society held in Wellcome Trust, London.
2014 Outside Intervention and the External Studio presented at “The Studio: Where do we learn? Where do we teach?” presented by GLAD (Group for Learning and Teaching in Art & Design) hosted by Sheffield Hallam University (collaboration with Matthew Taylor).
2014 One to Twenty presented at Make, create and cultivate symposium held at Somerset College, Taunton and present by Somerset Art Works (SAW) 13-14 July 2014.
2013 The Sleeping Bag Project presented at “The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth” held in V & A, London (collaboration with Rowan Bailey) 29-30 November 2013.
2013 Archival Interventions presented at “Storyville: Exploring narratives of Learning and Teaching”, the 2nd annual HEA Arts and Humanities conference hosted by University Brighton (collaboration with Nicola Perren and Rowan Bailey).
2011 Beyond Charity: The Sleeping Bag Project presented at “Considerations Between Textiles and Society: A Recapitulation” within the framework of the VI ‘World Textile Art’ International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art held in Museum of Anthropology and hosted by Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico (collaboration with Steve Swindells) 26 May 2011.
2011 More than Charity: Textiles in Daily Life presented at “Making Futures: the crafts in the context of emerging global sensibility agendas” hosted by Plymouth College of Art (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
Published Journal Articles
2019 The Train Track and the Basket: Interpreting transmigration within a site-responsive practice. In The Critical Fish: Beneath the surface of art and visual culture, 1 (1), pp. 44-49. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/thecriticalfish/docs/fish_-_v3_issuu
2019 Mining textiles: Extracting multi-narrative responses from textiles to rethink a mining past. In The International Visual Culture Review, 1 (2), pp.33-42, published by Global Knowledge Academics. Retrieved from https://journals.epistemopolis.org/index.php/image/issue/view/203
2016 Crafting the community. In Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 8 (1), pp. 59-71. ISSN 2050-7003 published by Emerald Publishing.
2015 Craft in unexpected places. In Craft Research 6(2), 275-285, doi: 10.1386/crre.6.2.275_1., published by Intellect Journal (collaboration with Penny Macbeth). ISSN 2040-4689
2015 The sleeping bag landscape. In Craft and Design Enquiry (7) 49-69, published by Australia National University (collaboration with Rowan Bailey). ISSN 2200-6931 (print) ISSN 1837-445X (online)
2014 Weaving technologies in the construction of a ferry ticket. In Radar, 4(1), 36-37, published by University of Huddersfield Press.
2011 More than charity: Textiles in daily life. In Making Futures: The crafts as change-maker in sustainably aware cultures, vol 2 published by Plymouth College of Art. Retrieved from http://mfarchive.plymouthart.ac.uk/journalvol2/index.php (collaboration with Steve Swindells). ISSN 2042-1664
2010 Resident social journey. In Radar, 1(1), 8-9, published by University of Huddersfield Press. ISBN 978-1-86218-084-0
2009 You Are the Journey: Public Art in Your Pocket. In J. Gillette & B. Harland (Eds.). Winchester School of Art Research Anthology, pp.36-37. Winchester Gallery Press. ISBN 9781873451618
1997 Preserving a taste of my experience in Slovakia. In Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes quatrième programme 1995-97 [exhibition catalogue], pp.206-207.
2014 Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live, published by Cambridge Scholars, 131 pages, ISBN 978-1-4438-5695-9 (co-editor and author with Penny Macbeth)
2012 Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear, published by Black Dog Publishing, London, Sept 2012, 160 pages, ISBN 978 1 907317 92 7 (co-editor with Steve Swindells).
2010 Littlemoor Wishes, published by University of Huddersfield Press, UK, ISBN 978-1-86218-082-6.
2007 Quilting the Estuary, published by Public Art Wales and Conwy County Borough Council, ISBN 978-0-9508201-3-2.
2005 Severn River Project, (Claire Barber and Morag Colquhoun), published by Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales.
1999 The Red Gown, supported jointly by Sir Robert Menzies Centre of Australian Studies and Edith Cowan University, Australia.
1997 A Mountain of Fortunes Made from the Pages of My Diary, supported by The British Council, printed Bratislava, Slovakia.
Indicators of esteem
2018 Reviewer for The International Visual Culture Review published by Global Knowledge Academics.
2017 Reviewer for the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education published by Emerald.
2012 Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.
2012 Joint convener (with Penny Macbeth) “Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live” international conference, University of Huddersfield.
2011-2018 Invited member of the Board of Directors, The International Fiber Collaborative, USA.
2011 THE (Times Higher Education) Awards - shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community.