Textiles and Railways: re-imagining patterns of textile production and circulation on the railway2021
A talk presented as part of Woven in Practice conference that took place on 23rd April, hosted by the Centre for Cultural Ecologies in Art, Design and Architecture and the Technical Textiles Research Centre at the University of Huddersfield.
My intention for this talk was to reach out to broad audiences who use local community trains or live and work in the surrounding towns and villages through which a community railway line passes with a long term aim to increase the viability as well as ambition of creativity in local community transport contexts. My presentation was a visual essay which asks how perspectives from artists can inform real-life considerations of sustainability and increasing passenger numbers on trains, and in turn, explore how poetic and esoteric concepts relating to public transport systems can become materialised in contemporary creative practice.
By considering the possibilities of practice-based methods, this research arose from an involvement with archival sources, lived experience and performative and site-responsive interventions on public transport systems. At the same time, close attention was paid to a multiplicity of concerns for artists undertaking creative expression identifiable by its purpose to reimagine patterns of textile production on public transport systems. For example, a black and white photograph of a women knitting on a subway in New York taken by Stanley Kubrick is emblematic, in this regard, alongside interventionist clothing by artist Menja Stevensen, destabilising a muted visual perception of upholstery fabric used on trains. Looking within my own creative practice several artworks have sought to redefine the boundaries of a form of textile art that attends to social and cultural histories of textile production processes that flow along the railway. This visual essay was the next step in this enquiry with a focus on the real and speculative role textiles has to offer local community rail services.