Michelle Stephens

Michelle Stephens


Michelle Stephens is a practicing textile artist, curator, lecturer and arts consultant. Stephens’ works act as a physical manifestation of her own personal reflections and reactions to given places as well as a dialogue between the particular materials and techniques.

The distinguishing element to Stephens’ practice has not been to pursue a skill in a traditional manner, but to unravel and question it to develop new skills. She uses these skills, histories and traditions of textiles in strategic ways to challenge conventions and generate new practical and theoretical perspectives. Currently her work involves the examination of technology as a design tool by using the coding environment of processing as a method of reanimating the traditional textile patterns of Paradise Mill, Macclesfield.

The code acts as a compressor, ripping apart the original image, and piecing it back together again. Algorithms decide what is broken down, and what is kept of the original textile archive. Colour palettes are developed from specific ranges, predetermined by the code that’s been written. There’s an element of chance in the creation of this work as the code enviably dictates what is kept, what’s not, and what colour choice is ultimately selected from the predetermined range set.

Thus, during the design process the core internal oppositions exist within the work; geometric and organic, construction and deconstruction, order and chaos.

Michelle Stephens graduated from the University of Ulster Belfast with First Class Honours from her B.A. (Hons) in Fine and Applied Arts degree, in June 2010. Following a placement year in the US, Stephens returned to complete her degree in Belfast, only then to stay on another year as Artist in Residence within the Textile Art Department. In 2013 Stephens completed the Making IT program with Craft NI at R-Space Gallery, Lisburn and the UU, Belfast.

Most recently she has just finished her Masters in MA Textile Practice, with Distinction, at Manchester Metropolitan University, 2014. This body of research has been further supported by the North West Doctorial Training Partnership in the UK, and it will form the basis of a practice-led PhD within MIRIAD at MMU – due for completion in late 2018.

Stephens is now a part-time Associate Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Complementing her practice with art workshops and demonstrations in art institutions enables Stephens to share her processes and experiences with the public, students and other practitioners. As well as this she also facilitates workshops in a variety of environments including hospitals, heritage sites, art centres as well as primary, secondary and tertiary education.

CODED CLOTH 1, 2016 | Coded design : cotton yarn, woven on a jacquard loom. Dimensions 1m x 50cm. Photo : Michelle Stephens
CODED CLOTH 1 (detail) 2016 | Coded design : cotton yarn, woven on a jacquard loom. Dimensions 1m x 50cm. Photo : Michelle Stephens
Northern Ireland

Workshops: Yes
Talks: Yes
Commissions: Yes