Lecture: Jessica Hemmings on Making Meaning: craft & labour


Jessica Hemmings, Professor of Visual Culture and Head of the School of Visual Culture at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, is visiting New Zealand this November. A specialist in textiles, she has written and edited several books including The Loop: Knitting Now, The Textile Reader, Warp & Weft  and Cultural Threads,  a book about postcolonial thinking and contemporary textile practice. She will be presenting her lecture on Making Meaning: Craft & Labour in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin.

Photo: Toril Johannessen. National College of Art & Design, Dublin.

Making Meaning: Craft & Labour

Familiar criticisms are easy to level against today’s culture of overproduction: low quality goods manufactured in unacceptable working conditions have driven down quality in favour of volume. Far harder to come by are clear solutions. Consumer apathy, the disparities of global economics and rapidly disappearing knowledge pose formidable barriers to change. But there are inspiring examples of designers and artists succeeding in their rejection of our present models of production. As the American artist Liza Lou recently explained, “The story and the way things are made is very important, it is part of the meaning… I don’t think you can separate the meaning from how things are made… if we do that, then what we do is negate labor, and the people that are part of a process.”

This lecture considers practitioners such as Liza Lou, Studio Formafantasma, Meekyoung Shin, Theaster Gates and Hechizoo Studio – who each critique current models of production and investigate inspiring alternatives. Time, as the Swedish artist Emelie Röndahl explains, is often their greatest investment capital.

Jessica Hemmings studied Textile Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with a BFA (Honors) in 1999 and Comparative Literature (Africa/Asia) at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, earning an MA (Distinction) in 2000. Her PhD, awarded by the University of Edinburgh in 2006, is published by kalliope paperbacks under the title Yvonne Vera: The Voice of Cloth (2008).

She has taught at Central Saint Martins, Rhode Island School of Design, Winchester School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art. In 2010 she edited a collection of essays titled In the Loop: Knitting Now published by Black Dog and in 2012 edited The Textile Reader (Berg) and wrote Warp & Weft  (Bloomsbury).

Her latest editorial and curatorial project, Cultural Threads, is a book about postcolonial thinking and contemporary textile practice (Bloomsbury: 2015) accompanied by a travelling exhibition Migrations.

Venues, dates and times

WELLINGTON – Massey University, College of Creative Arts, Monday 14 November 2.00pm, 10C19 — Block 10, Level C, Room 19, Entrance D Pukeahu Park Entrance, Wellington

AUCKLAND –  WG1103, level 11 of the Sir Paul Reeves Building, Colab, AUT University, Thursday 17 November, 5.30pm

DUNEDIN – Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic, Monday November 21, 5:30pm


Can you please tell me how we get in touch about attending Jess’s lecture/visit to Otago Poly on Monday November 21st please?
Many thanks,

Hi Emma – I assume that you just need to make contact with the Otago Polytechnic School of Art. I am afraid that I don’t have the exact contact. Cheers, Claire

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