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Cecilia Heffer


HDip Fine Art (Painting) National Art School East Sydney,
PGDip (Textiles) Central Saint Martins London,
MDes (Textiles) Central Saint Martins London.

Cecilia Heffer is a practice-based researcher and textile designer who specialises in contemporary lace and textile innovation. Cecilia coordinates the textile design program for Fashion & Textiles and supervises final year textiles for the fashion collections.

Her research specifically explores the integration of the handmade with emerging technologies. Her focus is to explore contemporary translations of lace as a vehicle for innovative textile design concepts.

Cecilia was commissioned to design the lace curtains for NSW Government House and her work has been acquired by both public and private collections such as the Powerhouse Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria and Tamworth Regional Gallery.

Her work is exhibited regularly nationally and internationally.

Senior Lecturer, School of Design
Course Director, Fashion and Textiles, School of Design
Associate Member, Centre for Contemporary Design Practice
GradDipTexDes (CSM), MDes (CSM)
+61 2 9514 8062

Conference Papers

Heffer, C. 2008, 'Integrating Textiles with Electronic Systems', Pervasive Expression Workshop, Sydney, Darling Harbour, May 2008 in Pervasive Expression:Workshop on Pervasive Visual, Auditory and Alternative Modality Information Display, ed n/a, Pervasive, Pervasive 08 website, pp. 1-3.
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Pervasive display technology often experiments beyond the use of simple LCD or pixel-based displays, instead utilizing a wide set of alternative output technologies such as LED light arrays, e-textiles, electroluminescent wires, thermo-chromatic inks, shape-changing materials, inflatables, smell emitters, tangible feedback mechanisms or complex sound generators. Although recent advances in pervasive technology have advanced knowledge about sensor data interpretation, context recognition and their applications, still much more needs to be known about how information can be communicated back to the user in an expressive but pervasive way. The development, implementation and use of such technology inherently encounters important considerations, such as privacy, ethics, usability, control, comprehensibility, engagement and technical development, spanning a spectrum from informative representation to artistic experience.
Verghese, G.H., Gothe, J., McLaughlin, S.M., Heffer, C. & Pandolfo, B. 2006, 'DAB Research Cluster (DATUM)', Powerhouse Museum, August 2006.
Organiser of Symposium as part of Sydney Design 06. Also part of editorial board organising the referees for the papers. The symposium website is <http://www.dab.uts.edu.au/inform/>

Journal Articles

Heffer, C. 2009, 'Integrating Textiles with Electronic Systems', fibre2fashion, vol. -, no. -, pp. 1-3.
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Heffer, C. 2008, 'Government House Sydney', Artichoke, vol. 21, no. 21, pp. 84-87.
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The completion of a ten year long program of redecoration of the State Rooms of Government House has united contemporary interior design.
Heffer, C. 2008, 'To Furnish a Future, Government House', Textile Fibre Forum, vol. 89, no. 89, pp. 24-25.
The refurbishment of the State Drawing rooms, Government House, NSW
Heffer, C. 2007, 'From high- tech textiles to magic furniture', Meet your makers, vol. Sydney Des, no. Sydney des, pp. 37-42.
From high- tech textiles to magic furniture our city's designers are finally making their mark. To celebrate Sydney Design 07, Robert Bevan meets some of our talents.
Heffer, C. 2006, 'Solvoid', Visual Communication, Screens and the Social Landcsape, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 251-255.

Original Creative Works

Heffer, C. 2010, 'Lace Narratives', Lace Narratives, -, Damien Minton Gallery Sydney.
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Lace Narratives was a new collection of over seventy textile works exhibited as a solo exhibition at the Damien Minton Gallery Sydney. It also included an artist event and floor talk. The aim of the work was to challenge traditional notions of textile narrative and lace making in order to innovate and create new contemporary lace designs and textile stories. The textile narrative in lace traditionally references the floral as its predominant motif. In the new work the narrative breaks away from traditional floral motifs. While still drawing from the past, it however interprets cultural memory through the concept of 'place' and enquires into the ways in which textiles serve as a story telling media. The work used both traditional and new textile technologies combining unconventional materials, techniques and imagery. Deconstructed old passports and birth certificates, for example, were reworked into new lace constructions, rusted nails were buried in cloth in order to imprint memory and photographic digital transfers were used in the creation of images. Sydney Design Week 2010, whose theme was story telling as a human act, featured the exhibition. The significance of this research has been acknowledged by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne through its acquisition of a selection of work. The work has become part of the National Living Artist Trust Fund that houses a collection of over 350 Australian artists. It is the first textile collection to be acquired by NGV and will be exhibited and toured regularly.
Heffer, C. 2010, 'Aerial Lace', Petite: Miniature Textiles, Cecilia Heffer, The workshop space at Wangaratta Exhibitions Gallery.
The Petite: Miniature Textiles exhibition served as a contemporary textile survey show that provided a valuable insight into current practices in Australia. Through a public call for exhibition, one hundred and nine artworks from ninety-five artists were selected for exhibition through a peer review process. The selected artworks included both traditional and contemporary approaches and demonstrated diverse textile techniques - from weaving to embroidery, surface embellishment to patchwork, dyeing, printing and use of alternative fibres. 'Aerial lace' is a contemporary lace work that explores a sense of 'place' through referencing aerial perspectives of the Australian landscape. It comprises a combination of photographic transfer images and rusted silk cloth, machine stitched to create a miniature lace landscape work. In this work lace acts a metaphor for understanding country, place and belonging. In this case, the 'aerial' view or flying is not only understood as providing an opportunity to look down and observe and reflect on the patterned landscape, but is also understood as an experience of being suspended in space between two cultures. Borrowing from the writer Murray Bail's novel Eucalyptus where a paddock is compared to a paragraph: 'A paragraph is not so different from a paddock - similar shape, similar function.', 'Aerial Lace' can be seen as a textile paragraph that represents a story of cultures and belonging through the form of landscape. The Petite exhibition generated an unprecedented level of interest for the Gallery, particularly from artists and textile audiences. A successful Textile Forum was held during the exhibition including a symposium and a diverse program of workshops.
Heffer, C. 2010, 'Chair Talk', Re-Loved: designer stories, Powerhouse Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
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Re-Loved - Designer Stories is a Powerhouse Museum exhibition that was part of Sydney Design Week 2010, 31st July-15th August. The larger theme of the Sydney Design Week was 'story telling as a human act'. Curator Jane Lateif selected eight Sydney designers from various disciplines and invited them to take a pre-loved and/or discarded chair with all its inherent meanings - functional, symbolic and historical - and 're-use' it as a vehicle with which to tell a story. The exhibition provided an opportunity for participating designers to question design conventions surrounding chair design and to use this as a platform to explore narrative. The designers represented architecture, graphic design, jewellery design, industrial design and in my case, textile design. As one of eight Australian designers chosen to showcase and represent Australian design during Sydney Design Week 2010, the exhibition demonstrated public recognition. The exhibition was extended for a month as a result of public interest. A review and article was written by design critic Ridhika Naidoo and published on the Powerhouse online design resource D*Hub.
Heffer, C. 2010, 'Lace', Inside Out, ArtTech, Object Gallery, Sydney; DMU Cube Gallery, Leicester; Righton Gallery, Manchester; The Poly, Falmouth.
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Inside Out is an international touring exhibition featuring forty-six miniature sculptures produced in resin using 3D printing technologies. Developments in virtual computer visualisation and integrated digital technologies are giving contemporary makers new insight and opportunities to create objects and forms which were previously impossible to produce or difficult to envisage. The exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Art Technology Coalition, the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT University in Australia along with De Montfort University, Manchester Metropolitan University and University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Arts in the United Kingdom. The work Lace explores new ways of interpreting lace as an open work structure through the technology of rapid prototyping. In this instance, rapid prototyping enables the materiality of a piece of lace to be folded and rolled, allowing the lace to stand as a 3 dimensional object, to be viewed both from the inside and out. While embracing the physicality of new material, the piece references traditional techniques and explores interconnections between memory, pattern and technology. Encoded in the process is the tradition of a textile history that has continually responded to creative technologies that have evolve within each age. Inside Out was exhibited 5 June-25 July 2010 at Object gallery, the Australian Centre for Craft and Design and toured internationally. The exhibition drew attention due to its exploration of advanced technologies applied to design outcomes.
Heffer, C. 2009, 'Hyperbolic Lace', Fashion Craft: Drawn Threads, Cecilia heffer, UTS Tower.
Hyperbolic Lace started as an investigation into geometric structural surfaces as a means to explore future lace possibilities. In October 2008 I was invited to be an artist in residency on the Masters Textiles Future Programme at Central Saint Martins, London. From this residency I discovered the work of Belgium Design group FoAM Lab who have conducted some very interesting workshops that explore hyperbolic geometries. The hyperbolic formula is based on the work of mathematician Daina Taimina, who in 1997 at Cornell University worked out how to make a physical model of hyperbolic space. This enables the participant to tactilely explore, the properties of this unique geometry. The collaboration with the Embroiderers++ Guild of NSW has followed this model. Embroiderers worked on single units which were then stitched into the hyperbolic form. Medical cellular structures, histopathology and spider webs were some the influences for their embroidery pieces.
Heffer, C. 2009, 'Reticella Lace', Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award 2009, Wangaratta Exhibitions Gallery, Wangaratta, Victoria.
Heffer, C. 2008, 'Shadow Traces', Momentum, 18th Tamworth Textile Biennial, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth, pp. 1-39.
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Heffer, C. 2008, 'Digital Lace', From Lausanne To Beijing, 5th International Fiberart Biennale Exhibition, China Architecture & Building Press, Tsinghua University, Beijing.
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Translation of contemporary Reticella Lace length into a direct digital print silk length, 8 meters long, 120cm wide. Presented as an installation piece at the 5th From Lausanne To Beijing, International Fiberart Biennale Exhibition,Tsinghua University, Beijing
Heffer, C. 2007, 'Integration - The Nature of Objects', Ivan Dougherty, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, College of Fine Arts, Magazine.
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Object Magazine 2006
Heffer, C. 2007, 'Lace', Contemporary Textiles, DAB DOCS, Sydney Morning Herald, Essential..
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Heffer, C. 2007, 'PODS', reSkin, the future of wearable Technology, Cecilia Heffer, Australian National University Gallery.
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Heffer, C. 2007, 'Commissioned Textile Design for Government House, Sydney', Government House, Sydney, Historic Houses Trust, Government House, Sydney.
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Commissioned Textile Design for Government House, Sydney The project was part of the Historic Houses Trust To Furnish a Future Program, a five-year refurbishment plan to redesign the interior of Government House, Sydney, 2002-2007. I was commissioned to design a contemporary lace curtain for the State Rooms. Throughout a three-year interview period I presented new concepts and methodologies for the lace curtain ++ to a series of judging panels consisting of leading architects, historians, curators and design experts. This work is part of ongoing research-by-design investigation into the possibilities of contemporary lace. New production techniques, the possibilities of digital imagery and non-traditional imagery are explored in the context of the unique open-work structure of lace. The motivation behind these projects is to bring the qualities of lace into the world of modern textiles, fashion, interior design and architecture. These investigations combine technical and aesthetic innovation. The significance of this research is that it stands alone in its field and has created an original Australian lace innovation; one that is unique to our culture and times. It breaks away from the traditional European floral motif normally associated with lace design. It references botanical illustrations specific to NSW and, in particular, the work of the Scott sisters who left a plethora of botanical illustrations in the 1900s. The scale, composition and repeat of the design completely breaks away from the high decorative style associated with traditional lace design, giving it a uniquely Australian aesthetic of light, space and scale.
Heffer, C. 2006, 'Sydney Esquisse, Datum UTS Group Show, Customs House, Sydney', Customs House, Sydney, Sydney Esquisse, Design week, Powerhouse Museum promotional material catalogue.
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Design Week, group Show at Customs house
Heffer, C. 2006, 'Reticella Series, Digital Lace series', LACED, -, Sheffer Gallery.
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The analysis of lace as an historical artefact was based on the Lace collection at the Powerhouse Museum Sydney, with a mentorship with lace historian, Rosemary Shepherd. The intention was to translate lace in a contemporary way, merging traditional practice with emerging new technologies. The project was funded by the Australian Visual Arts/Craft Board, under an Emerging Works Grant. Research outcomes were exhibited as a solo exhibition entitled LACED, shown at the Sheffer Gallery, Sydney 2006, and receiving significant reviews. LACED was presented at the Inform Symposium, Powerhouse Museum, 2006 and was part of various discussions surrounding issues of practice-based research. This exhibition is part of a series of ongoing research-by-design investigations into the possibilities of contemporary lace. New production techniques, the possibilities of digital imaging and non-traditional imagery are explored in the context of the unique open-work structure of lace. The motivation behind these projects is to bring the qualities of lace into the world of modern textiles, fashion, interior design and architecture. These investigations combine technical and aesthetic innovation. The significance of this research is that it redefines the complexity of traditional lace structures and looks at alternatives for future lace as an openwork surface. Through deconstructing the original meaning of lace, new lace structures have been explored that are outside the original lace constructions of weave, knit, and embroidery. Alternative processes of machine stitching onto a soluble base with laser cut silk fabric motifs were created. The work is unique: rather than replicating the lace, it arrives at a new creation of lace. It is significant in that it stands alone in its field and has more relevance to our age of production and technology.

Other research activity

Heffer, C. 2007, 'Patterns, New Surface Design', Laurence King Publishing London Ltd, London.
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collection of contemporary surface patterns
Heffer, C., Dorst, C.H., Shepherd, R., Williamson, L., Carnie, B.W. & Trouton, L. 2007, 'Lace: contemporary textiles exhibition and new works', Lace: contemporary textiles exhibition and new works, DAB DOCS, Sydney, pp. 1-46.
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Heffer, C. 2006, 'Visual Arts Crafts Strategy (VACS) New work grant', Visual Arts board, Australia Council, Dab Lab UTS, 2007.
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Grant to continue research into contemporary textile outcomes, linked to solo exhibition. Aiming to research technologies in relation to innovative textile outcomes.
Heffer, C. 2005, 'New Work - Emerging', Australia Council visual arts Borad.
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The New Emerging Works Grant ($9,000) was awarded by the Australia Council as part of a Visual Arts and Craft Strategy Program. 837 applications Australia-wide were considered: 120 artists across the disciplines were funded. Research outcomes were exhibited as a solo exhibition entitled LACED, at the Sheffer Gallery, Sydney 2006, receiving significant reviews. The research met all the intended research goals and criteria and was successfully acquitted by the Australia Council Board. Contemporary lace contributes to new creative future textile solutions. Future lace constructions synthesise the relationship between traditional lace making techniques and emerging new technologies. Technologies researched included developments with nano fabric, new fibers, direct digital printing and laser cutting. A mentorship with lace historian Rosemary Shepherd from the Powerhouse Museum was undertaken in order to learn traditional Bobbin Lace making. The contribution to this new creative area was a fusion of research generated from the analysis of traditional textile techniques with new technologies. The significance of this research is that it has devised new textile applications for a traditional lace-making practice, creating new alternatives and methodologies to generate a new body of textile work. Traditional printmaking techniques have been integrated with digital printing and laser cutting. Traditional Bobbin lace-making has been reinterpreted through machine stitching, to create alternative openwork textile structures. The work stands alone in its field as a new body of contemporary textile work.