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Dr Maxine Bristow

As an artist and academic with a history rooted in textiles, Maxine’s teaching, research, and creative practice are informed by the multiple, complex and often contradictory social, historical and cultural conventions of the medium and the positioning of these conventions within a contemporary fine art context.

Maxine’s research takes as its starting point the complex material and semantic conventions of textile and the everyday functioning environment, modernist legacies and postmodern discourses with which the medium is entangled.

Her early work harnesses the processes, materials and associated contexts of needlework/plain-sewing within the conventions of a minimalist aesthetic and in relation to the discourses of modernist autonomy. However, any attempt at formal autonomy is continually disrupted by the somatic sensuality of cloth and by the social and historical connotations of the needlework techniques employed in its production.

More recent work emerged out of a practice-based PhD awarded by University of the Arts London and Norwich University of the Arts in 2016. Entitled Pragmatics of attachment and detachment: medium (un)specificity as material agency in contemporary art, the initial stimulus for the research was a creative, critical and professional challenge: whether a practice and knowledge base that is historically grounded in the medium specific conventions of textile can continue to be viable within the richness, hybridity and heterogeneity afforded by the post-medium condition of contemporary art. The thesis, however, developed into a much wider philosophical and phenomenological interrogation of the consequences of this process of centring and decentring and the tensions between aesthetic and extra-aesthetic contexts and subjective and material agency that arise in negotiating these positions. Taking the form of a quasi-catalogue of sculptural components which are variously (re)configured in a series of staged mis-en-scenes, the research proposes a ‘constellatory opening up of textile’ where medium specificity is re-inscribed in terms of material agency. Within this expanded (inter)relational model of practice, textile is seen to be a dynamic medium of convergence and divergence that has the capacity to mobilise a dynamic network of connections and temporary coalitions, blur disciplinary boundaries and destabilise fundamental categorical divisions between subject and object.

Dr Maxine Bristow

Associate Professor


Dr Maxine Bristow

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