My individual and collaborative research is organised into three inter-looping areas, each comprising of a series of linked projects located in knit design research.
Individual Colour Innovation investigates the use of colour and light to disrupt pattern perception, challenging colour use in fashion and interiors and offers sustainable solutions to the impact of textile coloration.
Colour Movements (2013), used theatre lighting and dance, in a collaboration with the Phoenix Dance Theatre, to demonstrate early findings of the research. It generated a new theory Performance Craft (Gaston, 2016). Colonise: Colour (2016), Colonise: Night (Light Night, Leeds,2016), Crafted Futures (Leeds Industrial Museum and The SAB Gallery Leeds, 2016), a strand of the Yorkshire Year of the Textile and Colour Sails (Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby and Salts Mill, Saltaire, 2019) extended this project through large scale knit and light installations that invited public interaction, increasing the complexity of colour gamut extension through lighting, simultaneous contrast and optical mixing produced through knit structure. It included integrated shape generation to reduce production waste.
Collaborative Material Innovation extends the use of knit as a flexible, material system within architecture and is undertaken in a collaborative partnership, Knit: Design: Research (https://www.postdigitalknit.com). Projects use knit as a research tool, utilising the unique inherent properties of knit such as formability and extensibility which can be modified through material use. Knit can be produced in two or three-dimensions and can respond to its environment through tensioning. This work explores practical design solutions and theory generation.
Inflection (2017) explored the materiality embedded in artefacts in Chinese collection at the Royal Armouries, Leeds and re-imagined them as a complex material system created using advanced knit technology. Working with Cox Architecture, Australia to produce innovative shade solutions for the Opportunity Pavilion, Dubai 2020, Knit: Design: Research produced a bespoke tensioned-knit sun canopy, incorporating subtle colour and textural transformations, innovatively using twice-knitted, natural yarns to reduce overall fabric weight. Post Digital Knit (2019) Considered how the use of technology disrupts traditional making processes, exploring how digital technologies and craft thinking can enable innovation.
Multi-agency Societal Innovation uses design research to bring change in education policy, social inclusion, well-being and community in partnership with major national or regional organisations.
The research has its roots in the series of 18 practice-led, public workshops delivered as part of Yorkshire Year of the Textile (2016/7). As academic lead for the Yorkshire strand of Make Your Future (2017/9), the Crafts Council’s response to the crisis of creative education in UK schools, I delivered teacher CPD and student craft workshops to 24 schools, based on knit as a thinking tool. As principal investigator, I am currently preparing an AHRC submission with Leeds City Council and Leeds Arts University, investigating craft as a driver for change in primary education.