Alana Clifton-Cunningham brings industry design expertise to her teaching and research, specifically in knitted constructed textiles, an area where she is internationally recognised, and in which Australian wool is her preferred material.
Alana's practice-based research challenges current assumptions about knitted structures to explore a myriad of new applications, including fashion but extending beyond it to performance textiles in sport, defence and health.
She works in multidisciplinary teams and is keen to explore further collaborative opportunities in new technologies and methodologies. Her industry partners have included Abbvie Pharmaceutical, and she has also been an expert witness in a major federal court case over intellectual property.
In 2015 Alana created The Knit Lab at UTS which integrates her research with innovative studio teaching and is attracting growing numbers of students and industry partners.
She has presented her research at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, York University Canada, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, UNSW’s Art & Design, RMIT in Melbourne, Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and Curtin University in Western Australia.
Many of her knitted design works have been exhibited internationally, nationally and regionally, including the Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul, MAAS, Tamworth Regional Gallery (Textile Triennial) and the Wangaratta Art Gallery (Contemporary Textile Award). They have also been acquired by leading institutional collections, including Tamworth Art Gallery and The Embroiders Guild of New South Wales.
Says Alana, ‘Working as part of the team in The School of Design at UTS is energetic and engaging, and offers incredible opportunities to cross-pollinate with other passionate design thinkers.’
International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI)
DAB Seed Funding Evaluation Committee
Can supervise: YES
Alana’s research focus is inter-disciplinary design-led research, within the context of contemporary fashion design. She develops projects that integrate old and new technologies and seeks new approaches to the design and creation of fashion-related products through the relationship between traditional and new technology. Alana's personal research continues in knitwear, exploring the potential of new technology for three-dimensional structures. Drawing on her background in both knitwear and fashion design her research explores new forms.
-Contemporary knitted structures
-Australian wool (history of, and innovative applications)
-Application of knitted structures for health and wellness
-Constructed Textile (Knitted Structures)
-Contemporary Fashion Design
-Draping and Patternmaking Methodologies
-Global studios, cultural immersion experiences (India)
Clifton-Cunningham, A, Sadkowska, A & Walker, S 2018, 'Review: Out of Hand: Materializing the Digital, Museum of Applied Art and Sciences, Sydney, 3 September 2016–25 June 2017', Craft Research, vol. Volume 9, no. 1, pp. 149-156.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Out of Hand: Materializing the Digital surveyed over 90 objects and artworks by more than 60 artists, designers, scientists and architects utilizing digital manufacturing. The exhibition investigated potential future possibilities of how data can be manipulated creatively within a diversity of fields including biomedical engineering, visual arts and fashion design. The exhibition opened on the 3 September 2016 at the Powerhouse Museum, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) during the annual Sydney Design Festival.
Out of Hand: Materializing the Digital is a new iteration of the successful 2013 New York Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) exhibition, Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital which was curated by Ron Labaco. Principal Curator Matthew Connell implies that the choice for changing the title to ‘digital’ rather than keep it as ‘postdigital’ was to ‘[…] recognize a break with the analogue world, its origins in technologies of calculation, then media and communications’ (MAAS 2016a: 26).
Clifton-Cunningham An 2013, 'Profile', Yarn Magazine, vol. 13, no. 31, pp. 28-31.
Clifton-Cunningham An 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.
Melvold, J, Buck, A, Clifton-Cunningham, A, Golja, T, Kutay, C, Regmi, A, Vincent, N, Walsh, SP, Yap, E-H & Co-Creating Collective 2019, 'Transdisciplinary learning: transformative collaborations between students, industry, academia and communities. (an example of complex problem solving undertaken through university-industry partnerships to create societal value and impact)', Next Practice Book: Challenges and Solutions for Fostering Entrepreneurial Universities and Collaborative Innovation, University-Industry Engagement 02/2019, University Industry Innovation Network, University of Technology Sydney, pp. 12-12.
An analogy: Imagine you are invited to a dinner party, but instead of a stuffy sit-down affair,
your host asks you to bring your favourite ingredient, and together you prepare a delicious feast of unique and distinct flavours.
UTS’s transdisciplinary initiatives are changing the shape of higher education and forging
innovative partnerships by bringing together diverse professional fields. With a focus on practice-based and problem-focused learning, UTS educational programs combine the strengths of multiple disciplines, industries, public sector organisations, and the community to turn real-world problems into rewarding opportunities for education and also “learning for a lifetime”.
In place of the limitations of artificial disciplinary boundaries, transdisciplinary learning practices create synergistic and innovative approaches to grappling with complex applied challenges. Students, researchers, practitioners, community members and other stakeholders combine their knowledge, tools, techniques, methods, theories, concepts, as well as cultural and personal perspectives. By understanding problems holistically, the solutions that emerge are bold, innovative, and creative, as well as mutually beneficial. We view this as the future of education: good to work with, and good to think with — problem solving for (and with) industry and society.
The Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation is re-imagining how education, research, and professional practice can work together to navigate today’s complex problems, and create commercially attractive and socially responsible futures. We also practice what we preach: for example, staff professional development to enact these models in our own teaching; educational programs to provide experiential learning around problem solving within a rapidly changing environment involving students from across different disciplines and cultural backgrounds; as well as policy development and research on today’s pressing “wicked problems” with i...
Clifton-Cunningham An 2011, 're (skin): challenging perceptions in knitwear design', Get Knitted, Auckland University of Technology, NZ (Textile and Design Laboratory).
Clifton-Cunningham An 2006, 'The Sock: an investigation of the sock in society', Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences: York University, Toronto, Canada, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences: York University, Toronto, Canada, York University, Toronto, Canada, York University, Toronto, Canada, pp. 1-12.
This paper was submitted to the conference panel titled 'Everyday Stuff: narrating the socail lives of material objects'
Clifton-Cunningham An 2004, 'Trompe L'oeil: an Investigation of Traditional and Digital Textile Applications in the Creation of Illusion', The Space Between: textiles - art - design - fashion, The Space Between: Textiles - Art - Design - Fashion, Faculty of the Built Environment, Art & Design, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-6.
Clifton-Cunningham, A & Karaminas, V 2004, 'Off the Wall: The Florence Broadhurst Collection', Intermesh, Intermesh Symposium: Exchanges in fashion and Textiles, RMIT, RMIT University, Melbourne.
Clifton-Cunningham An 2002, 'On-line teaching and learning in fashion design education: the development of a theoretical framework and new learning model.', Fashion and Textiles: The New Frontiers - Design, Technology and Business, Fashion and Textiles: The New Frontiers - Design, Technology and Business, International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, pp. 1-19.
Hard copy of papers available
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2020, '100 years of Australian Climate Change', Wangaratta Petite Miniature Textile Exhibition 2020, Wangaratta Art Gallery, Wangaratta Art Gallery.
This work responds to the current discourse girdling Australia’s Climate Emergency. Historical data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and CSIRO for the past century (1919 to 2019) was gathered relating to three significant Australian climate events and re-interpreted through machine knitting to visually create narratives that discuss these critical concerns.
i. Australian Annual Sea Surface Temperatures (1919 bottom – 2019 top, mean centre). Average mean 22.2 °C.
Dimensions – 22w x 28h x 4d
100% Australian wool (deadstock)
ii. Australian Extreme Heat Days – number of days over 35 °C per decade (1919 left – 2019 right).
Dimensions – 22w x 21h x 5d
100% Australian wool (deadstock)
iii. Australian Mean Temperature (1919 bottom – 2019 top, mean centre). In 2019 temperatures peaked +1.52 °C above the average mean of 21.8 °C.
Dimensions – 22w x 21h x 7d
100% Australian wool (deadstock)
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2019, 'Innate Flow', 2019 Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award, Wangaratta Art Gallery, Wangaratta Art Gallery.
Knitted panel-monofiliment and wool.
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2018, 'bio_form', 2018 International Fashion Art Biennale, The Korean Fashion and Culture Association, BEAT360, 417, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Knitted body piece and over-piece.
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2017, '34, 30, 24, 6, 3, 1, 1', Wonderment, Gaffa Gallery.
Knitted panel featuring knitted patterns that disrupt conventional knitting techqniques.
An, C-C, 'Topographical Complexities Portfolio', Ffty Shades of White, Craft New South Wales, Craft New South Wales, The Rocks, NSW.
Clifton-Cunningham An, '(re)skin: contemporary knitting', (re)skin: contemporary knitting, DAB Lab Research Gallery, University of Technology, DAB Lab Research Gallery.
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 An, 'Cross Pollination', Cross Pollination, Red Objects (UNSW), Reserach in Experimental Design: Objects, COFA Space, College of Fine Art, UNSW.
Graduates from COFA were selected as making outstanding contributions to Australian Creativity and knowledge. The exhibition explores cross-pollination in the fields of visual art, craft and design. The show includes works by: Alana Clifton-Cunningham, Lynda Draper, Nikki Di Falco, Paula Do Prado, Brenda Factor, Trent Jansen, Mark Ian Jones, Guy Keulemans, Barbara Martusewicz, John Henry Martin, Jesse OâNeill, Susanna Strati and Bic Tieu.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Designs for the International Hand and Lock Prize for Embroidery Awards', Hand and Lock Embroidery, Musum of Sydney, Musum of Sydney.
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 An, 'Making it: 20 years of Student Fashion', Making it: 20 years of Student Fashion, Powerhouse Museum of Sydney, Powerhouse Museum of Sydney.
Australia has reared a host of fashion luminaries. And while it's hard to imagine these creative titans as students, there was indeed a time before they made it. For 20 years the Powerhouse Museum has staged an annual exhibition of Student Fashion. It shows work by the most accomplished tertiary fashion graduates, providing a taste of the upcoming design talent brewing in our own backyard. Twenty years. Think of the metamorphoses the fashion world has undergone since 1993! The exhibition showcases styles by last year's standout fashion students, as well as the latest from more seasoned alumni of the last two decades, including Toni Maticevski, Gabriel Lee, Timo Rissanen and Alana Clifton-Cunningham.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Neck Pods', Tamworth Fibre Textile Collection 1975-2010, Celebrating 35 years, Tamworth Regiuonal Art Gallery, NSW.
Knitted work that was acquired by Tamworth Regional Art Gallery was included as part of the Tamworth Fibre Textile Collection 1975-2010, Celebrating 35 years.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Pauldron', Fashion Art Biennale Seoul, The Korea Fashion & Culture Association, Seoul, Korea.
The International Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul, hosted by the Korea Fashion and Culture Association, is one of the most significant international exhibitions of fashion framed as art. The 2010 Biennale was notable as it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and the hosting of the 2010 G-20 summit, shaping the themes of the exhibition. It showcased 104 artists selected globally. The exhibition was held at the Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul Arts Centre, and received substantial press and media including coverage on national Korean TV. My participation was noteworthy as I was the only Australian invitee.
‘Pauldron’ explores the tensions between the residual sense of tribal primitivism associated with the practices of scarification versus the highly refined craft skills that are required in the fabrication of armour, whether it be Japanese or European. These tensions are further explored by the introduction of a new material, wool, and a new technique, not associated with the usual inert materials of armour whether they be lacquer or steel. A result is a re-gendering of the notion of protective coverings. It also re-positions the sense of decorum of inner and outer garments. As the fashion scholar Valerie Steele argued in the exhibition ‘Love & War: The Weaponised Woman’ (The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, 2006), there is a paradox in the way women’s fashion consistently uses elements from warfare and military garments over a long period of time to reinvent feminine identity in clothing.
The work continues my broader research investigation into the application of knitting techniques to create new body constructions and forms.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Second Glance', Sensorial Loop: 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial, Tamworth Regiuonal Art Gallery, NSW, Tamworth Regiuonal Art Gallery, NSW.
two knitted garments featuring laser cut material and hand stitching.
Clifton-Cunningham An, ''Second Skin'', Blurring the boundaries: fashion design innovation in contemporary knitting, Vishna Collins, Art Monthly Australia, Craft Australia, Textile Fibre Forum.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Second Skin Armsling, Gloves, Mufti, Neck Pods', Momentum: 18th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Textile Fibre Forum, local and regional newspapers.
The Tamworth Textile Biennial is one of Australia’s most respected and high profile national textile survey exhibitions. Momentum: 18th TTB was curated by Valerie Kirk, Head of Textiles, Australian National University. 25 exhibitors from across Australia were selected from approximately 200 applicants.
Knitting is a form of constructed textiles that has the capacity to be manipulated and moulded into 2D and 3D forms. My current research investigates the relationship of knitting as a form of second skin to the human body. My work primarily uses knitting as a medium to create forms that wrap, cocoon and, in some circumstances, distort the human body.
Second Skin: Armsling, Gloves, Muff and Neck Pods explores the place of knitting in a fashion context. It looks beyond traditional conventions of the form, using knitting as a medium to create ‘body pieces’. Through focussing on the types of shapes and silhouettes that can be worn on the body, ‘Second Skin’ extends current applications and understandings of knitting in a contemporary fashion context. The work also investigates the space between the body and the garment, an ongoing area of investigation in contemporary fashion instigated by the innovations of Japanese fashion designers in the 1980s.
The research contributes to the investigation of the relationship of aesthetic and material dimensions of contemporary textile practice.
The exhibition toured extensively to key regional galleries within Australia from November 2008 until December 2010.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Topographical Complexities 3', Ffty Shades of White, Craft New South Wales, Craft New South Wales, The Rocks, NSW.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Topographical Complexities I', International Fashion Art Biennale Seoul, Korea, Fashion Art Biennale Seoul, Korea, Seoul, Korea.
Clifton-Cunningham An, 'Visible Markings: new knitting', Visible markings: new knitting, Craft Victoria, media release, online.
Background Visible Markings: New Knitting is concerned with the interaction between traditional and contemporary knitting techniques, exploring the knitted form as a kind of âsecond skinâ. Knitting here functions as a vehicle for âdeconstructionâ, with familiar garment structures transformed into disarticulated âbody piecesâ. 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 ârite of passageâ: 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 âshelf lifeâ. 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, 'How you see it...', Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award 2017, Wangaratta Art Gallery, Wangaratta Art Gallery.
Machine knitted panels
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'How you see it... Yugen', Wonderment, Gaffa Gallery.
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'neo_form', 2016 International Fashion Art Biennale, Seoul, Korea.
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'Silver: Bluebird', Meroogal Women’s Art Prize 2016, Meroogal (Sydney Living Museums), Sydney Living Museums, Meroogal, Nowra, NSW.
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'Topographical Complexities 2', New Weave: Contemporary Approaches to the Traditions of Weaving, Object: Australian Design Centre, Object: Australian Design Centre.
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'Topographical Complexities IV', Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award 2015, Wangaratta Art Gallery, Wangaratta Art Gallery.
Clifton-Cunningham, A, 'translocation:duplication:deletion:inversion', Group Exchange: 2nd Tamworth Textile, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth Regional Art Gallery, NSW, Australia.
Clifton-Cunningham, A & Gwilt, A, 'Fragments: methodologies of making fashion', Fragments: methodologies of making fashion, DAB Docs , Australia.
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 2019, 'Shape 2018 seminar in association with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences'.
In association with NESA (National Education Standards Authority), I was invited as a guest design presenter for Shape. My presentation discussed the collaborative links working with industry, and the funded research links with health and design.
Live and recorded panel discussion connected to artisan collaborations in India. Panel Chair Bandana Tewari (Editor at Large-Vogue, India). In association with the Gene Sherman Foundation.
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2018, 'A brief history of briefs – and how technology is transforming underpants', The Conversation, Australia.
Underpants. We tend not to talk about them but they are a fact of life (unless you go commando). Briefs have a fascinating history and are now being transformed by technology, with high-performance undies that claim to do everything from filtering flatulence to emitting soothing vibrations.
Clifton-Cunningham, A 2018, 'Knowledge Exchange - Machine Knitting, Kullu, India'.
This presentation discussed Knowledge Exchange and observational research that been undertaken with local artisans in Kullu, India, in 2016 and 2017.
Clifton-Cunningham An 2011, 'Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Awards 2011'.
Current and previous partners:
- AbbVie Pharmaceutical (Australia)
- Calcoup Knitwear Limited
- Kullu Karishma
- Jets Swimwear
- Studio Elastica
- Artisan Culture