Loughborough University Featured PhD Programmes
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Loughborough University Featured PhD Programmes

21st Century Tapestry: an investigation of smart materials, technology interplay and heritage craftsmanship.


School of Arts and Creative Industries

About the Project

Supported by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), this studentship offers a unique opportunity to contribute new knowledge and insight within traditional tapestry practice as a structure for smart and e-textile development in partnership with Dovecot Studios and researchers from Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) and the University of Edinburgh (UoE). This project connects Scotland’s world-renowned tapestry studio with pioneering smart textile design researchers from the School of Arts & Creative Industries (ENU), and Edinburgh College of Art (UoE), and draws on established research within the field of craft practice, smart textile design and technology integration with fine art tapestry weaving. As one of only five tapestry studios in the world, with a legacy of collaboration with world-class artists and architects spanning over a hundred years, the unique knowledge-base, skillset and working environment, and opportunities for public engagement, provide a unique research framework for the studentship (https://dovecotstudios.com).
To ensure the continuity of tapestry weaving in Scotland, as inspired by William Morris and the emergent market demand for fine art textile works produced in collaboration with digital innovators, the PhD student will contribute to Dovecot’s strategic goals to develop its profile internationally as a centre of excellence. The student will play a pivotal role in helping Dovecot extend their current programme of research into traditional tapestry techniques using smart materials; develop new aesthetics in which to interpret artists’ designs for tapestry; help position themselves and Edinburgh as an International hub and resource; enable knowledge transfer and exchange with other world class centres of research in making and materials.
The PhD project will explore and question how tapestry practice can embrace innovation in smart materials and create a new marketplace and audience for the medium. Specifically, the research will ask, what does a 21st century smart tapestry look like? How can the integration of technologies be embedded within traditional heritage tapestry practice and exploit new aesthetics? For example, the tapestry could act as an input (sensors), processor (logic/algorithm) or output (state change/actuation). The project will involve practice-based research methodology and experimental prototyping, providing an experimental counterpoint to literature review work. It will also involve working on looms, using electronic components, conductive and state change materials, reflexive analysis of structural and material tapestry components. Included in the studentship is an 18-month placement at Dovecot which will allow studio practice and knowledge exchange, workshops and involvement in wider research networks.
The SGSAH Applied Research Collaborative Studentship includes tuition fees and a stipend for maintenance costs for 3.5 years of study and is jointly funded by the Scottish Funding Council and collaborative project partners, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh and Dovecot Studios. The student will be formally enrolled at Edinburgh Napier University and co-supervised by the three project partners. In additional to individual training provided by Dovecot, tailored to meet individual aspirations, the studentship will be supported by doctoral training and events from both universities and those organised by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, including induction and annual summer schools, a core training programme, access to advanced inter-disciplinary training with opportunities to lead the development of networks and funded training events across Scotland.
Prior to the application deadline, we hope to offer an online open day to view the fine art studio working space at Dovecot Studios during late September/early October, so please get in touch if this would be of interest.
Applications should be submitted by 5pm on 30th October 2020 via Edinburgh Napier University’s Research Degree website, following the link for full-time or part-time applications to Creative Industries: https://www.napier.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/research-degrees/application-process. Whilst full-time study is preferable, we will explore part-time options.
A first degree (at least a 2:1) ideally in Weave or Tapestry. A master’s degree in a closely related area is also required, with a good fundemental knowledge of smart textiles and or physical computing (ie the hands-on application of custom electronics in projects involving textiles)
Engish Language requirements
IELTS score must be at least 6. Weaving or Tapestry and/or Smart Textiles, e-Textiles or Physical Computing. The successful candidate should be proficient in at least one of these skilled areas, coupled with demonstrable interest and the potential to learn in the other.
Competent in research methods and skills commensurate with the communication of research to non-academic stakeholders and project management, and team working.
Knowledge of digital textiles, smart materials, computational textiles or soft systems; craft practice or practice-based design; research and/or an interest in developments within the field.

Funding Notes

This studentship includes full-time tuition fees at the Home/EU rate for 3.5 years of study and 42 monthly stipend payments.

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