The Handicrafts Residency
Each year LU Arts invites a contemporary maker, working with different media or materials to develop a project that engages with students and results in a new decorative or functional work that is presented within the campus or town. The residency pays homage to ‘The Handicrafts Unit’, which operated at the University between the 1930s-1950s and employed leading furniture makers Edward Barnsley and Peter Waals to train students in handicrafts, particularly furniture, who then had to produce functional items for different areas of the University, including bedroom sets for halls of residence and tables and chairs for canteens and other communal spaces. This year’s Handicraft artist is Katie Schwab.
She is working on a new commission for Loughborough University which brings together these interests in a collaboratively knitted wall-based artwork. Production of this piece began with workshops with four first year BA Textiles students in August 2022. The artwork is expected to be completed in October 2022.
Hosiery manufacturing was once a thriving industry across the East Midlands, and, as part of the Handicrafts Residency, Katie Schwab has been researching the history and production processes of machine knitting. Katie has been meeting makers and visiting local museums and archives to look at different tools and techniques of production, from 19th century Framework Knitting through to contemporary punchcard-operated machines. She will be working on a new commission for LU which brings together these interests in a collaboratively knitted wall-based artwork.
Katie Schwab works with installation, textiles, furniture and moving image to explore personal and social histories of craft, design and education. Recent exhibitions include British Art Show 9, Hayward Gallery Touring (2021-22), small wares, Vleeshal, Middelburg, The Netherlands (2021); Another Crossing, Artists Revisit the Mayflower Voyage, Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, USA & The Box, Plymouth, UK (2021-22) and A Working Building, The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth (2019).