As part of the MA Research Methods module, we are asked to produce a secondary research report which will give our research direction and allow us to evaluate different types of sources and gain understanding of the way that information in constructed.

I chose to evaluate sources relating to the topic of placeness, with a focus on the experience and sense of place which will be useful in my application of placeness through textile.

I was first introduced to the concept of placeness through textile in my reading of Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith. The book explores the possibilities and common benefits of slowing down to savour time and consider quality over quantity, taking a calm and measured approach towards a creative process to find balance and meaning. Using a slow approach to your textile practice, and considering the use of locally sourced materials, such as local plants or earth for dyes will create a literal sense of place and give a new perspective and appreciation for our surroundings.

Other sources of particular interest was the works of Yi-Fu Tuan. One of Tuan’s early works, Topophilia explores human views and perception of the physical, natural and man-made environment, our senses, aesthetic appreciation and the environments which have persistent appeal amongst humans. The survey provides theoretical and scientific evidence to suggest that whilst all humans share common perspectives and attitudes, every individual has their own unique view and values. Our perceptions are determined by our culture and the effect it has on our senses. An understanding of aesthetic experiences and how they differ depending on the environment that surrounds us, gives a greater knowledge towards the concept of placeness.

Space and Place forms a sequel to Topohilia. Based on his study of attitude and values of the physical environment, Tuan has created a structured approach to his material and has focused on the human experience of space and place. The book provides a concrete introduction to experiential perspective from which the reader can understand the concept and apply the knowledge to the following chapters. Tuan explores intimate experiences with place and also his concern that one can rarely achieve a sense of place through design as he believes the creation of place 'depends on chance and on the play of imagination' (Tuan, 1977, p. 142).

The work of Paul Rodaway, Sensuous Geographies provides an in depth discovery of our senses. It is through our experience of our senses that we are able to develop a wider geographical understanding. The ‘haptic sense’ (Rodaway, 1994, p. 41) is of particular interest in relation to conveying a sense of placeness through textile. Rodaway reflects on geographical experiences and suggests that an actual experience is formed by ‘a continuous movement up and down a continuum of haptic relationships between person and environment’ (Rodaway, 1994, p. 47).

To contextualise my findings, I chose to include artists who have based their work on a site specific location and successfully imbued a sense of place. Those include the work of Polly Binns whose approach to her textile practice is significant in portraying placeness. Binns gives an account of her approach which begins with a walk over the marshland flats at Blakeney Point, Norfolk in a dream-like state, noticing the geographical changes in the landscape, surfaces and marks left behind by animals and humans. Observing her surroundings allows her to create a memory which forms the basis of her work. The methodological approach to Binns’ practice provides an understanding of the ways in which placeness can be incorporated into textile design.

Below I have included a list of the sources I used for this research report, although this is by no means an exhaustive list as there is a huge number of literature, articles and artists who have approached the complex theoretical debate surrounding place.


AboutUNSW (2014) Session 1 Keynote - Edward Relph "The Paradox of Place and the Evolution of Placelessness". Available at: (Accessed: 3 November 2018)

Binns, P (1999) Textures of Memory: The Poetics of Cloth. Nottingham: Angel Row Gallery.

Cresswell, T. (2004) Place: A short introduction. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing

Hemmings, J. (2018) Landscapes of the Mind, Embroidery Magazine. (November/December 2018) pp. 30-34. (Accessed: 2 November 2018)

Lippard, L.R. (1997) The Lure Of The Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentred Society. New York: The New Press.

Rodaway, P. (1994) Sensuous Geographies: Body, Sense and Place. London: Routledge.

The Handbook. Space (2017) Placeness - Thing 1 in Yuma, Arizona. Available at: (Accessed: 3 November 2018)

The Handbook. Space (2017) Placeness – Thing 2 in Newport Beach, California. Available at: (Accessed: 3 November 2018)

Tuan, Y. (1974) Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perceptions, Attitudes, and Values. New York: Columbia University Press Morningside Edition.

Tuan, Y. (1977) Space and Place: The Perspectives of Experience. London: Edward Arnold Ltd.

Wellesley-Smith, C. (2015) Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. London: Batsford.

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