Perren, Nicola (2021) Activating the Amateur in a Crafts Practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis explores the autonomous actions of amateurs through communal making activities, with a particular focus on quilting as a form of textile craft. As a participant observer in a longitudinal case study, I was able to be in part, assimilated into the communal voice and practice of the Meltham Quilting Bee. As a result, this research considers the actions and choices we make when we have opportunities of individual autonomy through creative practice and an understanding of how this adapts when the making of work is a shared and social experience.

Patchwork has not only been used to piece together the quilts and numerous bodies of research in this study it has also acted as a concept to bring together a multitude of voices for communal and group making. Two key practices make up this thesis. Firstly, a longitudinal case study started in the early months of this work and six years later, is still running as a small quilting bee. Secondly, my personal creative practice has played a dual role as a tool to analyse and understand the nature and experience of the quilting bee but also as a marker of visual change that occurs when a professional practice listens and observes amateur making practices.

This study shows that maker identities shift, the home can be reconfigured as a temporal site for making with others, voices can be consensually adapted in order that a new communal voice may emerge and in return, allows us to develop personal and empowering approaches to creativity as individuals.

If there is a bingo card of low hanging fruit in the arts tree; amateur, craft, textiles, women and group making would surely be on the list and this thesis would indeed be a prize winner. However, through the lens of a feminist perspective this research firstly presents a review of literature that has created the framework through which this investigation can be understood, followed by an introduction to the methodologies that have been applied. Quilting is then contextualised in this research within both an historical and contemporary understanding and analysis in two parts, initially of the case study and then with a reflection of my own practice used, as a tool to reveal the experience of communal making.

This thesis argues that the amateur is not simply someone who lacks skill or is detached from cultural engagement. When the individual becomes a part of a collective or communal amateur group, given time, they move beyond an understanding that their only option is to learn and make friends. While this is certainly an initial driving force for engagement, the amateur, through communal craft making, toys with autonomy and positively add to the great machine that is a nations culture. Organically, they develop an empowered singular voice and vision and, highlight the importance of care and companionship.

PERREN - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (41MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email