Material Culture in Action: Practices of making, collecting and re-enacting art and design

The study of material culture can be defined as the study through artefacts of the values, beliefs and ideas of a particular society or community at any point in time, or as ‘the study of human social and environmental relationships through the evidence of people’s construction of their material world’. This study encompasses all walks of life, including of course, the material culture of art and design.

Next week a two day conference will be held at the Glasgow School of Art, that will investigate the new directions in material culture studies by focusing on the creative, critical and theoretical engagement with the material culture of art and design, both within and beyond the Art School. This will cover a wide range of art practices, from professionally designed works to the less official pieces of the self-taught amateur.

Michelle Kaye, our new Collections and Development Officer
Michelle Kaye, Collections and Development Officer

Several people from the Glasgow School of Art will be speaking at and attending this event, including the Archive’s own Michelle Kaye and librarian Duncan Chappell. Together with Helena Britt (lecturer in fashion and textiles), they will be presenting on the Stoddard-Templeton archive, design library and design studios (for further information on the Stoddard Templeton Archive and their legacy to Glasgow please see: Interwoven Connections: The Stoddard Templeton Design Studio and Design Library, 1843-2005;- Paisley Shawl from our Stoddard-Templeton Collection;- and Interwoven Connections: finding inspiration in the company’s in-house archive).

Pictorial tapestry rug featuring a pheasant (Archive Reference: DC/77/2)
Pictorial tapestry rug featuring a pheasant (Archive Reference: DC/77/2)

Our Archivist Susannah Waters, and researcher Debi Banerjee will also be presenting at this conference on the following:

  • The Art School Archive: archives, meanings and subjectivities – Susannah Waters
  • New Wave: Materials, Methods and Media, Glasgow School of Art 1970-1988 – Debi Banerjee


The conference will be taking place over the Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th next week, for the full programme of events please see here and for further information about this conference please go to the website, ‘Material Culture in Action Conference 2015’.

Resources Used

Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Methodby Jules David Prown

‘Interpreting Objects and Collections’, edited by Susan M. Pearce – Article: Things ain’t what they used to be’, by Daniel Miller