CfP: The Subversive Stitch Revisited – The Politics of Cloth

29-30 November 2013

Venue: Sackler Centre for arts education, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Keynote Speakers include: Professor Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds

The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth will explore the legacy of Rozsika Parker’s groundbreaking book, The Subversive Stitch: embroidery and the making of the feminine (1984)[i] and two landmark exhibitions from 1988[ii] that developed Parker’s ideas. It will consist of a one and a half day event held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and an online resource that will include documentation of all contributions. The event will be dedicated to the memory of Rozsika Parker, who died in 2010.


The first afternoon of the event will reflect on the art and feminist debates of the 1970s and 80s from which the exhibitions emerged. It will conclude with a keynote presentation by Professor Griselda Pollock, whose collaborative work with Parker during that period produced key feminist art texts.The second day explores the politics of cloth now, focusing on current activity by both women and men that addresses ethical, social and global issues, and on cloth as a subversive strategy.

We welcome proposals for papers and a range of presentations of varying lengths and formats – to a maximum of 20 minutes – from artists, performers, writers, filmmakers and scholars in any discipline and from any part of the world. Politics may be broadly defined, with an emphasis on radical, subversive and interventionist projects that question and challenge structures of power. We encourage creative interpretations focusing on the politics of cloth which, if accepted, will be documented via the website. Issues addressed might include, for example:

•   textiles and gender politics

•   cloth and the politics of the body

•   the impact of feminist theories on textile practices, writing and curation

•   cloth and cultural difference – identities- migration – post/colonialisms

•   the global textile trade – sweated labour – child labour

•   textiles and alternative histories, narratives and networks

•   textiles and protest – resistance – craftivism – collective action

•   textiles and the politics of education

•   ethical practice in textiles

Proposals for contributions (250 words maximum) should be accompanied by a short biography (around 100 words) and may include up to 2 weblinks, if relevant. Please email to by Monday 9 September, with the word PROPOSAL in the subject heading. 

 The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth is a project initiated and curated by Jennifer Harris, Deputy Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, Pennina Barnett, writer and curator, and Althea Greenan, Curator the Women’s Art Library, Special Collections, Goldsmiths, University of London. The event is organised in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum and Iniva.

[i]Now republished: Rozsika Parker, The Subversive Stitch: embroidery and the making of the feminine, I.B. Tauris, London, 2010

[ii][ii]  The Subversive Stitch was the umbrella title for two exhibitions, a historical survey at the Whitworth Art Gallery, and an exhibition of contemporary work at Cornerhouse, both Manchester, UK, 1988 and touring.


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