‘”Male Trouble”: Sewing, amateurism, and gender

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This 7,000-word book chapter is the published version of an invited paper delivered to UAAC (Universities Art Association of Canada) at the National Gallery of Canada in 2011. It draws on a wider research project on the intersection of modern masculinity and modern craft that has been brought together in a single-authored monograph entitled Queering the Subversive Stitch: Men and the Culture of Needlework, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2021. The chapter is significant as it offers a foundational, original and critical interrogation of masculinity as a construct and one that has often been contested by male artists in their use of particular types of amateur crafts long associated with women. The forthcoming monograph expands on this and historicises it. This chapter takes as its focus a selection of contemporary artists in Britain, America, Italy and Brazil.

The exclusion of male artists from the study of amateur crafts, and their erasure from both popular debates and documentary history, forms the underlying research question in this chapter. Utilising interviews with artists and taking queer theory as a theoretical framework the chapter uncovers a previously hidden history of work by men. It builds on papers at several conferences (UAAC; AAH; DHS), exhibition curation, writing in popular magazines (Selvedge; Embroidery) and extensive research in archives and museums in preparation of the larger monograph.

The chapter’s impact is evident in its wide citation and it has been singled out for special commendation in several reviews of the volume (see Crafts). Forms of amateur craft are often discounted in examining the conceptualisation of modern masculinity but as this chapter reveals amateur crafts, in particular, have been just as much a tool of visibility and agency for men as for women. The chapter is currently offered as part of the Bloomsbury Design Library.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication 'Sloppy Craft: Postdisciplinarity and the Crafts'
EditorsElaine Cheasley Paterson, Susan Surette
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN (Print)9781472529008, 9781472533074
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Sept 2015


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