MA Programme Description
Textiles offers five specialisms, in Printed, Knitted, Woven, Mixed Media Textiles and Soft Systems. Students base their study within one of the making specialisms and develop their own creative language through a combination of working within their making specialism and positioning themselves within one of the contextual platforms of ‘Body’, ‘Space’, ‘Colour, Materials & Finish (CMF)’ or ‘Gallery’ that are delivered across the programme. Students across all the specialisms develop their creativity through individual research and development of design ideas, concept development, material engagement and process, contextual application, presentation and communication of their work.
During the first year, students take part in a
range of technical induction and practical instruction
programmes alongside their personal development.
The second year is devoted to the self-driven creation
of a final project which challenges the boundaries
of the subject and builds on the individual’s personal
Each of the specialisms have specific curricula content and are described below:
Knitted Textiles Specialism: Knitted Textiles is the exploration of textiles through an engagement with the structural, conceptual and technical possibilities offered by knitting and the use of soft, linked structures. Knitting is a process laden with cultural preconceptions and industrial expectations, students are expected to challenge these perceived boundaries alongside challenging themselves, their current knowledge, creativity and skills. Students are encouraged to take creative risks and are expected to be innovators in their field. Students are free to determine the context of their work; there are no limitations and no boundaries. The specialism encompasses all forms of knitting processes and production spanning the range from hand-knitting and crochet, through to domestic and dubied machines to digital automated industrial machinery (Shima Seiki). The first year commences with technical projects covering hand, machine and digital knitting. Students learn how to undertake shaping and 3D knitted construction. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.
Woven Textiles Specialism: Woven textiles is one of the largest and most vibrant textile industries globally, spanning the handmade to the cutting edge of new materials and manufacturing techniques and systems. Within the Textiles programme, the woven textiles specialism explores dynamic and varied methods of woven technique from handloom to industrial jacquard. The first year begins with an advanced technical project covering both hand and jacquard weaving. During the first year students explore, research and innovate in terms of yarn, materials, dyeing techniques and finishing processes. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.
Mixed Media Specialism: Mixed Media represents an experimental and interdisciplinary approach to Textiles that links a broad range of practices, techniques, materials and methods of working. The history of the specialism lies with embroidery and stitched textiles and core technical skills in these areas continue to provide a valuable foundation in the first year of the programme. Students are introduced to hand, machine and digital processes alongside 3D modelling, sculptural and digital fabrication techniques. As a specialism we focus on radical experimentation, material testing and transformation. We encourage an exploratory, non-linear approach that embraces the conceptual and the magical, allowing a space for the incidental and accidental processes of discovery that foster a culture of research through making. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.
Printed Textiles Specialism: Printed textiles at the RCA captures a vast and varied cross-section of creativity within the design Industry. It is a method of thinking, making and manufacture that questions the notion of surface; its identity and purpose. This constant negotiation of the surface nurtures the breadth and exploration of both process and materials and students are encouraged to question and challenge the possibilities and pre-conceptions of print and textiles and redefine these by pushing these boundaries through experimentation. The first year includes building the skills and knowledge associated with the discipline including advanced making techniques, theories around colour, perception and line, alongside industry linked collaborations and continued development of personal lines of enquiry. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.
Soft Systems Specialism: Soft systems focuses on the developments in soft materials (fibres, filaments, yarns, gels, liquids, coatings, moldable materials and flexible films, virtual materials) and digital assemblies and places creative practice at the forefront of the innovation ecosystem to question the materiality of our lives and pioneer new ways of thinking and new ways of making that transcend digital and physical boundaries informed by a robust background in material knowledge and emerging fabrication technologies. Students use a creative experimental approach to propose and prototype new architectures for responsive and adaptive textiles. During the first year, students develop their knowledge of the classes and characterisation of materials through technical projects. Digital fabrication of and new technologies for processing materials are explored both theoretically and practically, alongside traditional textile processing platforms. Material experimentation focuses on aspects of e-textiles, physical computing, responsive properties and self-assembly with biomaterials.
Critical & Historical Studies
The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first year studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.
In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted *at the end of the Summer Term.* The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.