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Alana Clifton-Cunningham


Alana Clifton-Cunningham has worked for many years as a professional designer within the Australian fashion and textile industry before commencing her career in academia in 2000. Her role as lecturer at UTS focuses on couture practices and knitwear design within a contemporary design context.

Alana’s research, which focuses on the social, political, symbolic significance of knitwear design within a traditional and contemporary design context, also examines perceptions of knitting and its’ relationship to the human body as a second skin. For example, through challenging assumptions of knitted clothing structures and combining traditional knitting techniques with new technologies and materials, Alana creates non-traditional edifices that function on the human body and confront viewers.

Alana has guest lectured at UNSW’s College of Fine Arts and has presented conference papers at RMIT Melbourne, Curtin University Western Australia, York University Canada and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong. She has also exhibited extensively nationally and internationally.

In 2009, Alana was also appointed to a legal case through Spruson & Ferguson Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, which is one of the leading intellectual property (IP) firms in Australia acting as an expert witness interpreting fashion design and representations.

Alana is passionate about collaboration from alternative design disciplines and is interested in new technologies and methodologies.

Image of Alana Clifton-Cunningham
Lecturer, School of Design
Associate Member, Centre for Contemporary Design Practice
MktCert (Sydney Institute), FashTechCert (TAFE), DipMktMgt (Sydney Institute), BDes (Hons) (UTS), GCHETL (UTS), MDes(hons) (UNSW)
+61 2 9514 8891

Conference Papers

Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2011, 're (skin): challenging perceptions in knitwear design', Get Knitted, Auckland University of Technology, NZ (Textile and Design Laboratory), April 2011.
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Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2004, 'Trompe L'oeil: an Investigation of Traditional and Digital Textile Applications in the Creation of Illusion', The Space Between: Textiles - Art - Design - Fashion, Perth, Australia, April 2004 in The Space Between: textiles - art - design - fashion, ed Doropoulos, M., Farren, A. and Worden, S., Faculty of the Built Environment, Art & Design, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-6.
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Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. & Karaminas, V. 2004, 'Off the Wall: The Florence Broadhurst Collection', Intermesh Symposium: Exchanges in fashion and Textiles, RMIT University, Melbourne, March 2004 in Intermesh, ed Clifton-Cunningham, A and Karaminas, V, RMIT, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia.
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Journal Articles

Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2008, 'Second skins: challenging the conventions of knitting', Ragtrader: Australia's clothing fashion, vol. 19/09/2008, pp. 18-21.
Like clothing made from woven fabrications, knitted garments and accessories are a type of nonverbal body adornment that can embody multiple layers of meaning. Critical theorists and historians claim that there are four principal functions that all clothing provides whether knitted or woven. These functions y,dude: protection -from environmental elements and to provide warmth and practicality; modesty -to conceal our body and conform to societal demands; immodesty -to demonstrate sexual attraction and availability; and adornment -to indicate our belonging to a certain cultural group or to express our individuality. Similar 10 other types of clothing, knitted garments reflect societal representations of an era, and are sensitive to constant change.

Original Creative Works

Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2010, 'Pauldron', Fashion Art Biennale Seoul, The Korea Fashion & Culture Association, Seoul, Korea.
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I was invited to participate in the 2010 International Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul by the Korea Fashion and Culture Association. Coinciding with the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War, the hosting of the 2010 G-20 Summit, Seoul's designation as the 2010 World Design Capital and other cultural programs, the Biennale took 'War and Peace' as its theme. Through the medium of fashion art the broad aim was to channel the scarring experience of war and to provide a platform for sharing, co-existence and peace. The exhibition was held at the Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul Arts Centre. 104 Korean and International artists participated. Inspired by military body armour and practices of body scarification, the work created for this exhibition, 'Pauldron', explored the three dimensional qualities of knitting in relation to the body. A combination of techniques (tucking and short row knitting) and a variety of materials were used. Formed on a mannequin, the intention was to challenge perceptions of how contemporary knitting could be applied uniquely to the body. The work took the form of a knitted 'body piece' which both cocooned and distorted areas of the body. As a designer who works in both fashion and textiles my research interests are in demonstrating the alternative ways in which knitting can be represented on the human body and the diversity of new techniques that can be created. The work explores how unconventional techniques can be used to create new body constructions that move away from and challenge conventional garment shapes.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2009, 'Visible Markings: new knitting', Visible markings: new knitting, Craft Victoria, media release, online.
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Background Visible Markings: New Knitting is concerned with the interaction between traditional and contemporary knitting techniques, exploring the knitted form as a kind of ++second skin++. Knitting here functions as a vehicle for ++deconstruction++, with familiar garment structures transformed into disarticulated ++body pieces++. Challenging the perceptions of traditional garments and body shapes, the pieces deform and cocoon regions or portions of the human body, blurring the boundary between subject and object. Contribution This new body of work takes its inspiration from the traditional practice of body scarification, a tactile language inscribed onto the surface of the skin, often misunderstood due to popular Western misconceptions and negative connotations. Body scarring has been utilised here in conjunction with knitting as a form of symbolism exploring the concepts of gender, belonging and identity. In some cultures, scarring signifies a ++rite of passage++: sexual maturity, the journey from childhood to adulthood, or social acceptance. Other forms of scarification serve the purpose of tribal identification, spiritual protection, or aesthetic beautification. Visible Markings appropriates patterning techniques from the aesthetics of scarification to place knitting at the forefront of a politics of the body. Significance The significance of the work in Visible Markings demonstrates how designers can challenge tradition garment shapes for the body, and create pieces that have an extended ++shelf life++. The collection of work utilises Australian wool and explores and challenges juxtapositions of design principles. Surface details have been produced with hand and domestic machine knitting processes and challenge how the garments can be worn on the body.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2009, '(re)skin: contemporary knitting', (re)skin: contemporary knitting, DAB Lab Research Gallery, University of Technology, DAB Lab Research Gallery.
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Knitted body pieces that deconstructs familiar woollen garment structures to create body pieces that act as a second skin, wrapping, cocooning and at times, even distorting the body.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2008, 'Second skin: new knitting', Second skin: new knitting, Alana Clifton-Cunningham, UTS, pp. 1-4 + insert.
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Exhibition catalogue and essay
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2008, 'Second Skin Armsling, Gloves, Mufti, Neck Pods', Momentum: 18th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Textile Fibre Forum, local and regional newspapers.
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Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. & Gwilt, A. 2008, 'Fragments: methodologies of making fashion', Fragments: methodologies of making fashion, UTS: DAB DOCS, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-17.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. & Gwilt, A. 2008, 'Fragments: methodologies of making fashion', Fragments: methodologies of making fashion, DAB Docs [07], Australia.
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Everyday fashion components and elements such as the pocket, the sleeve, or the seam often become overshadowed by the theatrics of the fashion spectacle. Very little time is dedicated to the study of fashion in detail and the intricacies of high fashion become invisible in the catwalk show or fashion photoshoot. Since modern living has encouraged us to buy cheap, low quality, mass produced clothing the exhibition aims to discuss the opportunity to create high quality garments and components with a longer lifespan and that can be repaired, transformed, or be disassembled at the end of their lifecycle.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2007, 'Designs for the International Hand and Lock Prize for Embroidery Awards', Hand and Lock Embroidery, Musum of Sydney, Musum of Sydney.
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Background - With mass production and fashion flooding the market, traditional arts and crafts such as embroidery have recently seen a decline in their adoption. This has been mostly due to the laborious process of making involved. The opportunity to create a piece of work for this renowned embroidery competition allowed me to link it to my research, which investigates components and `fragments' of dress that are often overlooked. Contribution - The research addresses two questions: 1) How can fashion designers refocus on elements or components of design, and incorporate sustainable elements within the making? 2) Through an examination of the details in fashion garments, how can traditional methods and techniques of making, such as embroidery, lead fashion designers to explore new innovations? Through addressing these questions, the design work and research focusses on various considerations of design with a sustainable outcome, while utilising a traditional technique of embellishment such as embroidery. Significance - The research and outcome for the International Hand and Lock Embroidery Prize for Embroidery competition and exhibition is significant in that it is the first of its kind to look at components of dress, rather than the overall garment or fashion outcome. Creation of the work provided an opportunity to test how components of dress could be reconsidered by designers, when creating fashion at a variety of market levels - the possibilities, potentials and reality of applying traditional and innovative methodologies in contemporary fashion practice.
Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2006, ''Second Skin'', Blurring the boundaries: fashion design innovation in contemporary knitting, Vishna Collins, Art Monthly Australia, Craft Australia, Textile Fibre Forum.
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Clifton-Cunningham, A.n. 2005, 'Flourish: knitted Stomacher and Pocket', Valency: College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales, College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales press, pp. n/a-n/a.
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Group exhibition - individual creative works x 2