EXTREME COLLABORATION "Herself the first embodiment of catalytic clothing"

Patricia Belford, Helen Storey, Tony Ryan

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EXTREME COLLABORATION “ Herself the first embodiment of catalytic clothing”“Herself’ a textile sculptured dress is part of the Catalytic Clothing project, the result of ongoing (1994 – 2011) collaborative work with Helen Storey,Professor of Fashion Science,London College of Fashion, this a cross disciplined project, setting out to produce a fabric which could eliminate air pollutants, the science being driven by Professor Tony Ryan, polymer chemist, University of Sheffield. Having previously worked with Storey and Ryan on the Wonderland project (1) my reputation as collaborator and textile expert was undisputed. In April 2009 I was presented with a Silver medal by The Society of Dyers and Colourists ‘for major contributions to the advancement of textile design and the printing of textiles’ (2) The developmental research for Herself “was part of an EPSRC budget allocation (£13.496.92)(3) from Sheffield University, the aim to bring together knowledge and hybrid methods for combining concrete, textiles and nano Ti02, blending materials with polarized characteristics, showing in a new and beautiful form.‘Herself’, first shown in October 2010 in Sheffield.(4) as an indicator that scientific research could pave the way for clothes that could purify the air. Strategic workshops took place in Belfast from Nov 2009 – Feb 2010(5,5a,5b) investigating printed methods to subvert the existing chemistry of Ti02 onto a textile, an innovation voucher was granted to support these nano scale findings.(6.6a) The textile research methods were presented at the International Flock Symposium in Munich (March 2011) indicating new ways the process of flock could be developed.(7,7a)“Herself” was the first of a series of cultural interventions, intending to illustrate in artistic form the idea that textiles can eliminate certain pollutants from the air and is presented as the ‘world’s first air purifying dress’’ ‘Herself’ has been toured in the public domain as opposed to a gallery to provoke public debate around real solutions to change the world, the key was in attracting new, unexpected and diverse opinions. Since the launch of ‘herself’ as the magnet, the chemistry has been developed, but ‘herself’ drawing on my textile skills in process was the initial provocateur of science, moving on from Sheffield she has been shown around the world,(8) with the catalytic clothing project attracting audiences of up to 173 million.(8a,8b) Invitations from The worshipful Company of Dyers colour conference (2009) (9.9a) and Stroud International textiles (2012)(10) for each collaborator to speak together on one platform indicate the growing realization that diverse disciplines can make a difference. The rich body of collaborative work carried out by Belford will be documented in a forthcoming invited chapter for Berg Publishing * the working title is ‘Collaboration through craft: Theory and Practice.*PLEASE NOTE the numbers in () indicate the portfolio links
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSheffield
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Oct 2010
EventHerself - Howard Street / Sheffield
Duration: 18 Oct 201030 Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Quinn, Bradley (2011). Design Futures, Merrell, London. p118 (wonderland)
O'Mahony, Marie (2011). Advanced Textiles for wellbeing, Thanes and Hudson,London. p198
Quinn, Bradley (2010). Textile Futures, Berg, London. p235-236
Outputmediatype: textile concrete sculptured dress


  • concrete
  • textiles
  • nano
  • technology
  • Ti02 hybrid
  • pollution
  • velvet


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