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Deborah White, (PhD Researcher)

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Biography

My experience as a designer and weaver of linen damask spans twenty-five years, after having graduated from Ulster University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Fashion and Textile Design in 1994. I was a visiting Lecturer in Woven Textile Design at Ulster University for several years before I took up a full-time position as a Hand-Loom Linen Damask Weaver at The Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum. Working alongside Ireland’s last traditional Master linen damask weaver, John McAtasney, I honed my skills amidst an internationally important linen collection, and had the wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the craft to visitors from across the globe. My works have been presented to dignitaries and institutions, from HRH Prince Andrew to The Wallace Collection, London (on permanent display in its library in Hertford House). Privately, I have undertaken commissions for the President of Ireland, President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu, and The Ulster Scots Agency, whereby I was commissioned to design and weave the Ulster Tartan for Dr Clifford Smyth’s publication ‘Titanic Tartan’. I have advised The National Trust at Wellbrook on hand-loom weaving, and in 2019 won a Professional Development Award from The Textile Society. That same year saw me win The Heritage Crafts Association’s Endangered Crafts Award plus The Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers Award. 

My career path has taken a new turn, having recently been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council/ Northern Bridge Consortium PhD Scholarship to study Irish damask. I am now a Doctoral Researcher based at The Ulster Doctoral College, Ulster University. In autumn 2021 I will have the honour of presenting a paper on damask weaving at the Abegg-Stiftung Museum in Switzerland, the world’s leading pioneer in textile research. 

An avid and passionate cultural historian with a love for traditional vernacular heritage and fieldwork, and the history and stories of the people whose lives it touched. The arts and their encouragement have long underpinned my work as a weaver. I have endeavoured to engage people with the craft, from collaborating with Kids Own CREATE at Ballydown Primary, creating a woven triptych based on binary coding, to teaching Fine Artist Damien Magee how to weave cassette tape, and encouraging him to submit his piece to the Linen Bienalle, which was subsequently exhibited and thereafter purchased by the Arts Council Northern Ireland in 2019. For me, weaving is so much more than a craft. It is entwined in the story of Ulster and her people. A story that we should celebrate. 

 

Biography

Scholarship weighted by a twenty-plus year practice of the craft of hand-loom linen damask weaving, it centres on the restoration and return to full working-order of an early nineteenth century Jacquard linen damask broadloom. As the ‘Royal Loom’ in Ireland’s last hand-loom linen damask manufactory it supplied tablecloths to Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Windsor Castle throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. Its concern is to recapture ‘lost’ practises and materials employed in the art of linen damask weaving in Ireland. With the craft of hand-loom linen damask weaving now recognised as Critically Endangered by The Heritage Crafts Association it is an opportune time to extend our knowledge of the craft and establish a teaching model for textile historians and future practitioners.

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor

1 Sep 199127 Jun 1994

Award Date: 27 Jun 1994

External positions

P/T Academic Tutor Constructed Textiles, Ulster Univresity

1 Oct 19951 Jun 1997

Master Weaver

4 Oct 199415 Sep 2020

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