Postgraduate

Second Skin: Exploring Perceptions of Contemporary Knitting

Second Skin: exploring perceptions of contemporary knitting

Alana Clifton-Cunningham

MDes (Hons), 2008

Supervised by Liz Williamson (2003-2007) and Wendy Parker (2003-2007)

My research exemplifies the typologies of fashion and art and demonstrates how knitting can be contemporary and high fashion. My role as a designer who works in both fashion and textiles is to demonstrate the alternative ways in which knitting can be represented on the human body and the diversity of new techniques and forms that can be created.

The intention of my work provides a platform of how knitting, and working with unconventional knitting techniques can be utilised to create new body constructions and forms, or ‘body pieces’ that move away and challenge perception of conventional garment shapes.

Abstract

The perception of knitting has shifted over the last twenty years, with designers now exploring non-traditional materials, forms and processes. Knitwear practitioners are crossing over and often working within multi-disciplinary areas of design. While these designers are exploring new technologies such as machine knitting processes, the qualities of the ‘hand-made’ are still often evident through utilising hand-assembly and post-production methods of making. The work presented examines knitting as a form of constructed textiles and explores the integral relationship it has with fashion and textiles, as well as the interplay between design, craft and art.

Second Skin explores contemporary knitwear design functioning within the ‘high-fashion’ area of design. It challenges traditionally established rules and perceptions, and potentially blurs the boundaries of what is considered fashion design, into art. While conceptual fashion design has always been a debateable issue among fashion scholars as to whether it can be viewed as fashion, anti-fashion or possibly art, this work observes the influences of modernity and deconstruction in relation to knitting.

Knitting has the ability to be manipulated and molded into two and three-dimensional forms through the knitting/making process. It is highly versatile can be highly patterned and textured, making it a unique medium. Through hand and machine knitting methods of making, the work interrogates the notion of ‘deconstruction’ by looking past the traditional knitted coverings for the body. Knitting here functions as a vehicle for ‘deconstruction’, with familiar garment structures transformed into disarticulated ‘body pieces’.

Alana Clifton-Cunningham

Alana Clifton-Cunningham, Second Skin: Neck Pods (2007). 100% Australian wool, (5 ply) Laser cut Tasmanian oak timbre veneer, machine knitted; 36 x 80 cm. Photograph: Seung Rok Baek

Alana Clifton-Cunningham, <i>Second Skin: Neck Pods</i> (2007). 100% Australian wool, (5 ply) Laser cut Tasmanian oak timbre veneer, machine knitted; 36 x 80 cm. Photograph: Seung Rok Baek
Alana Clifton-Cunningham, <i>Second Skin: Shoulder Wrap</i> (2007). 100% Australian wool, (5 ply) Laser cut Tasmanian oak timbre veneer, machine knitted; 36 x 80 cm. Photograph: Seung Rok Baek