Anne Marr - Material Dialogues

Anne Marr is our second speaker at Three Colours Blue/ Liberté: How do women experience external spaces. Anne shares with us her connection between urban spaces and textile design:

Material Dialogues

I am a Femi-city-nist. London’s urban fabric runs through my veins. Walking around my neighbourhood in Harlesden I am programmed to be vigilant and keep moving like a Brent Roadwoman. My female navigation skills are to circumvent any small alleyways as well as an obstacle race avoiding stepping onto puke, blood and dogshit. Keep moving. I have learnt to personalise my moves by including the best smells – from white lilac scent to the McVities Biscuit factory whiffs enroute.

As a textile designer it is the colours, materiality and patterns that connect me to this place and I am passionate in creating an Urban Fabric that represents the multiple demographics of local communities. London is complex. Exteriors are complex. Public structures often feel very impermeable and what I like best about London’s exteriors are the informal manifestations the temporary traces of cultural dialogue that suddenly appear a bit like a local treasure hunt. This is a great opportunity to bring different material stories in.

Over the past 8 years I have designed textiles and materials with Londoners and invited a diverse dialogue. With People who have experienced homelessness, who take drugs, who have been to prison, who are much younger or much older than me. And people who were not born in London - like me. We created communal patterns representing our past and future identities in London. It’s been a start to shift my perception of using more diverse materials and colours to make London’s external spaces more multidimensional.

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Anne is the Joint Course Leader for BA Textile Design and the Programme Director for Jewellery, Textiles and Materials at Central Saint Martins /University of the Arts London. She is also a designer-researcher at the Textile Future Research Community (TFRC).

Anne’s research is based around the socio-cultural context of textiles, particularly the area of Urban Fabric-exploring boundaries of different textile-based approaches to respond to societal or urban needs and to create more empathetic communities.

Projects such as “Threads and Yarns” supported by the Wellcome Trust and “Home and Belonging” with Crisis Brent, investigate the connection between materials and society in order to develop sustainable socio-responsive textiles that promote local ownership and community engagement. Recently Anne has been collaborating with designer Rebecca Hoyes to develop new hybrid material research – combining soft textile properties with hard ceramic qualities with a potential for spatial applications.