International Journal of Art & Design Education

A Stitch in Time: Gender Issues Explored through Contemporary Textiles Practice in a Sixth Form College

Volume 26.3   2007



This article discusses, contextualises and locates in contemporary theory, an autobiographical case study of an artist-teacher in the ‘learning community’ of a Sixth Form College art department. It reflects on the educational potential of enabling teachers of art and their students to investigate issues of culture and identity through engaging with contemporary art practice. It seeks to explore the extent to which exposure to contemporary art practices (and in the second year sixth form, textiles-based, cases discussed) creates a more conceptual approach to student project work, which can act as a catalyst to develop students' understanding of issues-based practice. The discussion of the selected pieces is located within a feminist paradigm that foregrounds the body and gender theories. This article elucidates how a conceptual approach to working, as opposed to a more traditional skills-based approach, can act as a vehicle for moving students towards becoming self-motivated artists and, in the case studies described, take their practice beyond that which is normally achieved within the constraints of timed, exam-based work.