School of Design

ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

Associated Research and Publications



Bradford Khaki Club for WW1 soldiers


Documenting the O’Hear West African Collection, A & H O’Hear

wearing Nigerian weaves

Ann & Hugh O’Hear donated a collection of 68 Nigerian and Ghanaian textiles in 2014.  The O’Hear Collection now makes up a significant part of the West African textiles at ULITA.

Hugh and Ann first met in 1965, in Nigeria, where both were volunteer teachers in the Western Igbo area. In 1975, Hugh and Ann became lecturers at Kwara State College of Technology, outside Ilorin.

Their collection includes cloth from Western Igbo called ‘Aniocha’,  Ishan cloth, a Hausa blanket, Akwuete cloth, an Aso Oke shirt and other weavers’ samples.  They also bought Nupe women’s weave cloth in Bida, and Ebira women’s weave cloth from northern Bendel State, and numerous Adire and Batik cloths from itinerant Yoruba traders.

Ann researched the local cloth woven by men (Aso Oke: narrow strips woven on a horizontal loom) and women (broad panels woven on a vertical loom).

Since donating their collection the O’Hears have carried out further research in order to create detailed documentation records for each item in the collection.  Ann O’Hear has created supplimentary documents detailing the Adire and Yoruba batiks, research associates and a full bibliography on the subject.

The Life and Work of Pioneering Molecular Biologist William Astbury,  Dr K Hall

Dr Kersten Hall has researched and published on the life and work of the Leeds-based physicist William T. Astbury, whose role in one of the biggest scientific discoveries in history has gone largely untold. From early X-ray studies made in the 1930s on the structure of wool for the local textile industry, Astbury became a world authority on using X-ray crystallography to study biological fibres and not only pioneered the emerging new science of ‘molecular biology’ but also made the very first studies of the structure of DNA, the molecule of heredity – so laying the foundations for later work by James Watson and Francis Crick.  A presentation by Dr Hall on this subject can be found via the University’s Museum of the history of science, technology and medicine lecture series.

For his research Dr Hall has studied the Ardil samples in the Fibre Collection and documents in the Archive of the Department of Textile Industries, for which Astbury was appointed Lecturer in Textile Physics in 1928.

History of Technical Education in the West Yorkshire Woollen and Worsted Industries,  Professor R Blaszczyk

1909 – 1910 staff and students of Textiles

Drawing on documents in ULITA and Special Collections in Brotherton Library, Professor Regina Lee Blaszczyk in the School of History has been tracing the history of technical education in the West Yorkshire woollen and worsted industries.  She has examined the early history of the Yorkshire College of Science, predecessor to the University of Leeds, to learn about the Textile Industries Department under the auspices of weaver John Beaumont and the Dyeing Department, directed by John James Hummel, in the 1880s.

This research is part of the Moon Heritage Project, a collaboration between the University of Leeds and Abraham Moon and Sons in Guiseley (part of Leeds) to document the firm’s long history.  Tracing its roots back to 1837, Moon is the only remaining vertically integrated woollen mill in England.  The firm currently makes tweeds for global brands such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and Paul Smith.

Prof Blaszczyk’s research in ULITA and Brotherton Library has uncovered new information about Charles Herbert Walsh, a designer and entrepreneur who bought the company from the Moon family in 1920.  Walsh attended the Yorkshire College of Science between 1880 and 1884, first taking the course in dyeing and then switching to textile design and management.  After the turn of the century, his son, Arthur Cyril Walsh, studied dye chemistry at the newly named University of Leeds.

Charles Herbert Walsh applied his design education to a long career in the West Riding woolen industry.  We know that he lived in Guiseley and worked as a “woollen designer” in 1891 and 1901. He was co-owner of Abraham Moon and Sons from 1913 to 1920, when the Moon family withdrew from the business and Charles Herbert Walsh took the reins.  Today, Moon is a family business run by the fourth generation of the Walsh family.

The Moon Heritage Project advances Blaszczyk’s interests in the business history of the fashion system, from fiber and fabrics to high-street retailing.  The Moon Heritage Project dovetails with her large collaborative research project, The Enterprise of Culture, funded by HERA II from 2013 to 2016.  A publication Fashionability, Abraham Moon and the creation of British cloth for the global market will be available in late 2017.

The Textile Research Centre, Leiden

For several years now ULITA and the Textile Research Centre, Leiden (TRC) have been working together on various projects relating to decorative needlework. In particular the ULITA collection has been consulted by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (Director of the TRC) as part of the research involved in the ‘Encyclopaedia of Embroidery from the Arab World’ (2015). This substantial work looks at the history of embroidery from the time of Tutankhamun to the present day and from Morocco to Iraq. Items from the Louisa Pesel Collection were important elements in this research and will be used as illustrations in the encyclopaedia.

In addition, ULITA has been assisting the TRC with another ambitious project, namely ‘TRC Needles’. This is a digital encyclopeadia of decorative needlework. It includes a wide range of subjects from basic materials, techniques, tools, design styles, people (craftsmen and women, designers, writers, collectors), visual and written sources. It will initially include c. 900 entries and will be expanded at the rate of c. 100 entries per month for the next 4 years. It is anticipated that over 5,000 entries will eventually be included. These will range from the well-known to the really obscure. Help with this project has been given by many scholars and institutes throughout the world, including ULITA.  ‘TRC Needles’ includes items about Louisa Pesel and her work, the Bradford Khaki Club, the ULITA Collection itself, as well as using items from the ULITA collection to illustrate entries in general.

The Textile Research Centre is based in Leiden, The Netherlands and is dedicated to the academic study of pre-industrial textiles and dress and identity. It has a collection of over 10,000 textiles, garments and accessories dating from pre-history to the present day, without any geographical or gender boundaries.

The Analysis, Conservation and Documentation of the Mamluk Garments, J Hyman

The structural analysis, conservation and documentation of the Newberry Collection of Mamluk Garments

Jacqui Hyman

Jacqueline Hyman is a textiles conservator with a long association with ULITA.

In 2012 after extensive conservation work on the garments in the Egyptian Collection, Jacqui completed her Masters at the School of Design on ‘The structural analysis, conservation and documentation of the Newberry Collection of Mamluk Garments, University of Leeds’.  Details of her research can be seen in ‘Fashion to die for: Children’s clothing from Mamluk Egypt’ in Text. (Journal of the Textile Society) Volume 39: 2011-12 (with permission from the editor).

Jacqui also has a research interest in the collections of Louisa Pesel, particularly her association with the Bradford Khaki Club for recovering WW1 soldiers.

Jacqui has her own business, the Textile Restoration Studio.  She was a textiles student at Leeds University, where she first encountered the ULITA collections.  Jacqui has carried out preventative conservation work on the major collections, and was instrumental in establishing a volunteer programme of labelling and packing. She has given presentations in ULITA on textiles conservation and aspects of her textiles research, including ‘Healing Stitches – therapeutic needlecraft at times of conflict’.

Indian embroidery and Kashmiri samples,    Professor A Morrell

Indian Embroidery

Kashmiri sample

Professor Anne Morrell has previously used examples from the Louisa Pesel Collection to illustrate her work, including ‘The migration of stitches & the practice of stitch as movement’ (2007), after which, in the spirit of Pesel, she donated her illustrative samples from the publication to ULITA, alongside several Indian textiles.  She has also used illustrations of Kashmir embroideries from ULITA in her publication ‘Embroidered and stitched textile fragments from Kashmir’ (2017).

Her recent publications in association with the Sarabhai Foundation Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, include ‘Indian Embroideries’ Volume 2, Part 2 with an accompanying DVD,  (2013), ‘Stitches in Gujarati Embroidery (2015), and ‘Embroidered and stitched textile fragments from Kashmir’ (2017).

Anne Morrell is a Professor of Textiles and former Head of Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University.  In addition to her research interests in historic and ethnic textiles, particularly of the Indian sub-continent, she has taught and published extensively in the field of embroidery and craft textiles.  Her own embroidery work has been exhibited in various museums and galleries in many countries.  She has been a Consultant at the Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad, India for over 20 years.

Japanese Katagami Stencils,  Dr A Humphrey

Katagami Stencils

Dr Alice Humphrey has carried out research on both the Katagami stencils in ULITA’s Japanese Collection and those of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University (MODA).  See her report on the MODA Katagami stencils.

Her research has culminated in the 2017 exhibition at ULITA Katagami – the craft of the Japanese Stencil, for which she has written an accompanying publication.

Dr Humphrey was previously the Documentation Consultant in ULITA , and gained her PhD at the School of Design.

’New Work’ based on the Kashmiri Shawl Collection,   P Dickens

Pip Dickens: New works

‘Dreams Nascent, (Kashmir Shawl series) 2011, © Pip Dickens

Based on literary research, poetry and the Kashmir Shawl Collection at ULITA,  Pip Dickens produced a series of paintings as the result of a 2012 commissioned residency at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery , University of Leeds. These were exhibited concurrently with the ‘Sadler and the Shawls’ exhibition at ULITA so visitors could see the original sources.

The works extrapolate the Kashmiri boteh (or Paisley) motif from the shawls, resulting in anthropomorphic entities placed within dramatic environments. Imagery of Hieronymus Bosch and Disney animation are visited to present these shapes as individuals, or groups, in socio-political contexts that, although brightly coloured suggest an underlying threat or sense of isolation.

For more information and to download the exhibition catalogue  see ‘Pip Dickens: New Works’ , or available to purchase from the Gallery via the Online Store.

Pip Dickens is a Fine Art lecturer at Lancaster University.  She is a painter examining theories of colour reception, light and movement. Concepts of illusion and double meaning are recurring themes. Her painting methodology is determined by the subject matter and often juxtaposes conventional painting techniques with innovative methods to create unusual surfaces and textures.  Previous research and exhibitions have encompassed themes of fabrics and textiles, including kimono fabrics and katagami stencils.

The Application of Geometric Symmetry to Tilings and Polyhedra           Dr B Thomas

The Application of Geometric Symmetry to Tilings and Polyhedra

Dr B. Thomas and Professor M. A. Hann (School of Design, University of Leeds)

This research is of significant to design practitioners and explores a range of geometric concepts of importance to two- and three-dimensional design. The project is concerned with pattern, geometric structure, form, shape, proportion and symmetry. The visionary work of H. J. Woods (a crystallographer working with Astbury in the 1930s) was the starting point for the enquiry, and attention has been directed to the clarification of developments since then. The objective is to develop a system for tiling regular polyhedra (known as the Platonic solids) without gap or overlap and with registration at the edges. An exhibition was held at ULITA in 2007/2008.

See associated publication ‘Patterns in the plane and beyond‘ and teaching booklet ‘Form, shape and space: an exhibition of tilings and polyhedra’.

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