Approved: 03.08.2018

Claire Barber

Artist, Lecturer / academic, Researcher, Writer

Approved: 03.08.2018

Claire Barber is an artist and 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. Drawing directly from her experience and understanding of textiles and using site-responsive methods of research her aim is to develop a relevant practice that has a transformative effect in communities.

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Claire Barber is an artist and 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. Drawing directly from her experience and understanding of textiles and using site-responsive methods of research her aim is to develop a relevant practice that has a transformative effect in communities.

Barber has pursued a peripatetic career exhibiting widely and completing over twenty artist-in residency and commissioning models in the UK and across Eastern Europe, Australia and Japan. The practice, which has been broad ranging, has included temporary installations, interactive and socially engaged works as well as sculptural and architectural interventions. The nature of site for Barber is far reaching and could be contained in the physical division within a community which marks the arrival of a new road, a holy site of 20,000 saints, a temporary office dropped into a museum, the front of a transport ticket, a gold-mining ghost town, an abandoned sleeping bag left at the end of a music festival or a glove making factory in a small village in Somerset.

Between 2010 and 2012, a collaboration with Steve Swindells at the former Snibston Discovery Museum in Leicestershire led to the book ‘Mining Couture’, published by Black Dog (2012) and provided the opportunity to deepen an investigation into the relationship between fashion and mining previously explored at gold-mining ghost towns in Australia (1998-99). While Barber’s most recent installation at Hull Paragon Railway Station, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, explored the phenomenon of ‘transmigration’, and the notion that craft skills and belongings traverse transport routes alongside people. Other featured artists included Nayan Kulkarni, Bob and Roberta Smith, Michael Pinsky, Tania Kovats, Sarah Daniels and Claire Morgan.

Barber has exhibited extensively most recently Contextile 2018 Contemporary Textile Art Biennial, Guimarães, Portugal and a further installation as part of the ‘Migrations’ exhibition curated by Jessica Hemmings and presented at Huddersfield Art Gallery (2016).

Claire’s exposure to textile impacts on her approach to her practice as much as community contexts. This is exemplified in her research with the writer and academic Penny Macbeth, who have contributed to a number of journals, papers, books and conferences some of which they have co-convened and co-edited themselves. For example, the book ‘Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live’, published by Cambridge Scholars (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 Claire Barber 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’ 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


2017                       The Train Track and the Basket, 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 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 (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. Supported by Arts Council England and Public Art South West.

2008-9                   You Are the Journey: North Staffordshire, a public art commission presented as part of ‘Place Space & Identity 2’ project by B Arts and supported 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 presented as part of Westonbirt Arboretum International Festival of the Gardens Art Programme, Gloucestershire.

2002                       Hammocks, a collaborative project with The Samling Foundation as part of the ‘Land and the Samling’ arts project 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.

1996                       Four window screens created 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.

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                        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)

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 Exhibitions

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

2015                       Repetition Variation, Frameless Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Green, London

2015                       Pinpoint 2, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

2013                       Pinpoint 1, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

2012                       Hidden Voices: The Sleeping Bag Project, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate International Centre

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

2011                       VI International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, Mexico City 

2008                       Art Vaults: Season 4, King John’s Palace, Southampton, Hampshire

2006                       Quiet Sound, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire 

2005                       Artsway Open 05, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire

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         

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

2003                       Art in Heaven, The Meeting House Chapel, University of Sussex, Brighton

2003                       Feather, Black Swan Arts, Frome, Somerset

2002                       Land, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire

2001                       Roam, Coed Hills Rural Art Space, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

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

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

1996                       Living at  Belsay: A Contemporary Approach to Furnishing an Historic House, Belsay Hall, Northumberland

1994                       New Discoveries, Boundary Gallery, London

1992                       Seventh Annual International Textile Contest, The Fashion Foundation, Minato-Ku, Tokyo

Published Books

2014                       Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live, published by Cambridge Scholars, 131 pages, ISBN 978-1-4438-5695-9 (co-editorwith Penny Macbeth).

2012                       Mining Couture, published by Black Dog Publishing, 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.

Published Journal Articles

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

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).

2015                       The sleeping bag landscape. In Craft and Design Enquiry (7) 49-69, published by Australia National University (collaboration with Rowan Bailey).

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 published by Plymouth College of Art. (collaboration with Steve Swindells).

2010                       Resident social journey. In Radar, 1(1), 8-9, published by University of Huddersfield Press.