Making, Knowing and Being Made: Hand-Stitching Beyond Representation

  • Emma ShercliffEmail author


This chapter explores a relationship between maker, materials and things being made to outline a place for the tacit knowledge of hand-crafting within the broader field of non-representational thinking. Although geographies of affect take into account the mattering of phenomena more generally, this does neither explain why some material encounters matter more to certain individuals, nor how some people come to be more adept than others at working with them to produce artefacts. Through auto-ethnographic accounts of a hand-stitching practice, Shercliff examines an experience of knowledge-in-practice as a place from which to consider skilled practice as a process of subject formation between the sensations and feelings of lived experience and beyond representation.


  1. Ahmed, S. (2010). Orientations matter. In D. Coole & S. Frost (Eds.), New materialisms: Ontology, agency and politics (pp. 234–257). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28, 801–831.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, E. (2015). Materiality, language and the production of knowledge: Art, subjectivity and indigenous ontology. Cultural Studies Review, 21, 101–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolt, B. (2004). Art beyond representation: The performative power of the image. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  5. Dewsbury, J. D. & Bissell, D. (2015). Habit geographies: The perilous zones in the life of the individual. Cultural Geographies, 22, 21–28.Google Scholar
  6. Douny, L., & Naji, M. (2009). Editorial. Journal of Material Culture, 14, 411–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gregg, M., & Seigworth, G. J. (2010). The affect theory reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Ingold, T. (2010). Bringing things to life: Creative entanglements in a world of materials (Realities: Working Paper No. 15). Retrieved 31 July 2018 from
  10. Ingold, T. (2013). Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kagis McEwen, I. (1993). Socrates’ ancestor: An essay on architectural beginnings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Kristeva, J. (1986). Revolution in poetic language (M. Waller, Trans.). In T. Moi (Ed.), The Kristeva reader (pp. 89–136). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. O’Connor, E. (2005). Embodied knowledge: The experience of meaning and the struggle towards proficiency in glassblowing. Ethnography, 6(2), 183–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pajaczkowska, C. (2010). Tension, time and tenderness: Indexical traces of touch in textiles. In G. Pollock (Ed.), Digital and other virtualities, new encounters: Arts, cultures, concepts (pp. 134–148). London, UK: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  15. Pallasma, J. (2009). The thinking hand: Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture. Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. Polanyi, M. (1978). Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy. Abingdon, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Polanyi, M. (2009). The tacit dimension. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Pye, D. (1995). The nature and art of workmanship. London, UK: The Herbert Press.Google Scholar
  19. Sennett, R. (2008). The craftsman. London, UK: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  20. Serres, M. (2008). The five senses: A philosophy of mingled bodies (M. Sankey & P. Cowle, Trans.). London, UK: Continuum.Google Scholar
  21. Shercliff, E. (2009). Monologue. Material, 2, 90–94.Google Scholar
  22. Shercliff, E. (2014). Articulating stitch: Skilful hand-stitching as personal, cultural and social experience (Doctoral dissertation). Royal College of Art, London.Google Scholar
  23. Thrift, N. (2008). Non-representational theory: Space, politics, affect. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arts University BournemouthPooleUK

Personalised recommendations