Conventional and non-conventional materials in conceptual textile art

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In the past, the word textiles has been synonymous to weaving and the focus has been on the construction of fabrics and clothing. Textiles has broad branches or components that can be looked into rather than just construction and decoration of fabrics. The raw material (fibre) for textile goes through conventional processes either by fabric construction or decoration, and products from these processes are geared toward clothing and furnishing. Textile art implies art made with textiles as well as art made about textiles and comprises art made of fabrics, fibres, threads, yarns and mixed media, including techniques of collage, appliqué, patchwork, quilting, embroidery, tapestry, dyeing, and painting, among others. Textile art as a component of textiles has been given little or no attention in our part of the world. It is upon this that the study explores with conventional (fibre, sliver, roving, yarn, fabrics) and non-conventional (wood, cardboard, plastics, polythene) materials in conceptual textile art. The study used the descriptive survey and studio-based methods of research approach. Observation and structured questionnaire were the main instruments used for data collection. Mix-media techniques were employed in the execution of the project. The target population studied included lecturers and students from the Faculty of Art, KNUST, and art teachers in the Senior High School. It also included textile artisans and technicians. Stratified sampling technique was used to sample the accessible population for the study. The study revealed two major findings. The first set of findings revealed that printing and dyeing are the most common aspect of textiles practiced among the other components and therefore the raw material used mostly is fabric. The second set of the findings established that quite a number of respondents are not familiar with the term conceptual v art and therefore do not practice it. Indeed the research has revealed the possibility of combining conventional and non-conventional materials in conceptual textile art. The study recommends that practical lessons in tertiary institution should be designed to encourage students to utilise alternative materials within the environment to produce textile art. It suggests to the Ghana Education Service to re-design the Textiles aspect of the Visual Art programme at Senior High Schools to improve the scope of textile art at that level.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Industrial Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Fine Art (Textile Design).