21st Century Tapestry: an investigation of smart materials, technology interplay and heritage craftmanship
  A collaborative partnership between Dovecot Studios (Edinburgh), Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh Napier University. Supervision has been discussed and agreed in principal as follows:

• Sarah Taylor, Senior Research Fellow, ADRC, Edinburgh Napier University (DoS)
• Prof Sarah Kettley, ECA, Edinburgh University (Second Supervisor)
• Celia Joicey, Director Dovecot Studios (Non-academic partner)

Dovecot Studios want to establish the technical possibilities of weaving by hand using smart materials and have ambitions to increase global art market opportunities as part of their wider portfolio. As an internationally recognised, world-renowned producer of hand-woven tapestry and gun tufted rugs, they are one of only five in the world. The Applied Research Collaborative Studentship project would help establish research capacity within the organisation and further cement the Studio and Scotland’s distinctiveness within the field. The project will benefit Dovecot with a specialist smart material knowledge base and tapestry skillset, provide new opportunities for future clients, open up new commercial avenues and provide opportunities for exhibition and public access as a smart materials hub and resource. As an organisation, they would provide a unique environment for collaborative applied research, supervision and access to specialist expertise and resources.

Through applied research methodologies, the project will use experimental prototyping to examine and exploit materiality, integrated technology function and time-based aesthetics in conjunction with traditional handmade tapestry techniques. The research will question: What does a smart tapestry look like? What are the challenges of combining smart materials? How can the integration of technologies exploit new aesthetics using a traditional heritage skills base? What is the role of tapestry in the 21st century?

It is anticipated that the project will allow a minimum of 6 months working alongside Dovecot weavers. Building on literature review findings, the research will aim to identify appropriate materials and associated technologies for sampling using dedicated tapestry equipment. Experimental prototyping techniques will be used to development a range of material concepts through individual and collaborative practice. There will be an opportunity to attend specialist community maker events and gain feedback from researchers within the field.

There is a wealth to draw on from the field of smart textiles (including e-textiles), not least a strong research legacy from Scotland’s universities which predates smart textiles (Robertson, Taylor & Bletcher 2019). Both Sarah Kettley and Sarah Taylor have established research backgrounds within the field and will bring knowledge of craft practice, technology integration, smart textile design methodologies, design thinking, co-design, interactive and preformative function, person-centred approach as a design methodology (Kettley) and cross-sector collaborative methodology with industry (Taylor). Both HEIs provide an opportunity for digital and data-driven technology integration support.

  • Start Date:

    1 March 2021

  • End Date:

    31 August 2024

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    Scottish Funding Council, The University of Edinburgh

  • Value:


Project Team