• Seminarium
  • 22 nov
  • 10:30 – 17:00
  • Samlingssalen Steneby, Dals Långed


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Friday November 22, 2019

Samlingssalen, Steneby, Dals Långed

Craft and the hands that are making have, through history, affected people and societies and become symbols and tools for organization of resistance and communication. Questions of how, why and what effect craft and crafted objects achieve are being raised. On Friday November 22 the seminar To Perform Body will discuss craft in relation to gender and sexuality from political, historical and contemporary perspectives. This, for example, involves the definition and role of craft in relation to other artistic expressions, craft as a tool to perform identity, gender and sexuality, and how bodies perform resistance through craft. The seminar discusses how craft performs body as well as discussing and making visible the bodies that perform/make craft.

To Perform Body is the fifth seminar in the series that was initiated by the program Textile – Body – Space at HDK Steneby. This year the seminar is a collaboration between Mötesplats Steneby, Iaspis/Konstnärsnämnden, Konsthantverkscentrum and HDK Steneby.

Speakers: Amber Butchart, Tom Cubbin, Frida Hållander

Moderator: Maja Gunn

Amber Butchart

A Gendered History of the Art/Craft Divide

Artforms using textiles have existed for millennia but have not always been held in high esteem in the art world. The artificial divide that exists between fine art and textiles (or applied/decorative arts, or craft) is a gendered issue. Historically, textiles have been labelled ‘women’s work’, and dismissed as inferior to pursuits such as painting and sculpture. But this has not always been the case. This talk provides an introduction to research charting the changing perceptions of fabrics throughout art history.

Amber Butchart is a fashion historian, author and broadcaster who specialises in the historical intersections between dress, politics and culture. She is a former Research Fellow at the University of the Arts London, and is a regular public lecturer at the UK’s leading institutions from the Tate to the V&A, and as far afield as Dubai and Hangzhou. Amber is a National Crime Agency External Advisor as a Consultant Forensic Garment Analyst, working on cases that require investigation of clothing and textiles. She also researches and presents documentaries for the BBC, including the six-part series A Stitch in Time for BBC Four that fused biography, art and the history of fashion to explore the lives of historical figures through the clothes they wore. Her publications include The Fashion of Film, Nautical Chic, and a history of British fashion illustration for the British Library. Her latest book, The Fashion Chronicles: Style Stories of History’s Best Dressed, is out now.

Tom Cubbin

The Design of Leathersex

In this talk, Tom Cubbin will present aspects of his research into the designers, makers and craftspeople responsible for producing the material culture of the gay leather scene. Firstly, Cubbin will show how the designer Jim Stewart (founder London’s first bondage store Fetters in 1976) engaged enthusiasts outside of the gay scene to contribute to the transformation of the straitjacket from an item used by the police, and asylums, to one produced and marketed towards bondage and leather communities. Cubbin will then examine the construction of skill and technique among leathermen through an analysis of Do-It-Yourself articles in the magazine DungeonMaster (founded 1982), which advertised itself as the ‘popular mechanics’ of gay sadomasochism. In both instances, Cubbin is concerned with the how the social nature of objects’ construction and mediation contributed to the ‘institutionalization’ of certain erotic practices. Through investigating the cultural origins of objects types, Cubbin will ask how such design objects can be used to tell us more about the history of sexuality and sexual knowledge.

Tom Cubbin is senior lecturer in Design Studies at the University of Gothenburg. He is currently undertaking research on a three-year project entitles Crafting Desire: An international design history of gay male fetish making, and is author of the book Soviet Critical Design (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Frida Hållander

Making: conditioned, but not always bounded, by societal structures – On The Violence in Production and the Will to Contest

Making can be understood as embodied experience and knowledge: conditioned, but not always bounded, by societal structures. Frida Hållander’s presentation will focus on the processes of making in the fields of textile in different times and spaces where a motivation has been to contest: to overturn reality; classdetermined hierachies and other societal structures. Drawing from her dissertation Whose Hand is Making? where she is assembling a willfulness archive, she will discuss both the resistance against, and the resilience of repressive structures, where objects gain agency.

Frida Hållander is a craft-artist and holds a PhD from Konstfack and HDK. Her doctoral thesis Whose Hand is Making? A Sister-Text about Craft, Class, Feminism the Will to Contest (2019) includes a case study which addresses the thematics of textile and the collective story of women that have worked in sewing factories and homebased industry. Together with textile artist Åsa Norman she is now working on a project about rewriting the play Fabriksflickorna [Factory girls] by Suzanne Osten and Margareta Garpe (1980). The play depicts the textile crisis in Sweden (1950–1980) and the “seamstress’s collective”: those who oppose.


Maja Gunn

Professor of Craft, HDK Steneby

Maja Gunn is the Professor of Craft at the program Textile – Body – Space at HDK Steneby. Her research and practice investigate craft and design (with a specialization in clothing, fashion, and textiles) in relation to societal change and politics, primarily in relation to gender and sexuality. Concurring with the seminar is the opening of Maja Gunn’s exhibition, Construction, at the Steneby Konsthall.

This seminar is made possible by HDK at Steneby, Mötesplats Steneby with support by Iaspis/Konstnärsnämnden – The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Artists and Konsthantverkcentrum.

There will also be a free bus ride from Gothenburg and Åmål.

From Gothenburg the bus departures 08:00 from Drottningtorget outside of Post Hotel.

In Åmål the bus departures after the trains arriving from Stockholm/Kristinehamn 10:08 and departure from Steneby to catch the 18:05 train to Stockholm/ Karlstad.

The event will be recorded and possible to see on YouTube a few days after the event.

If you have any questions, please contact Anders Lindgren at