About Michelle Stephens
Michelle Stephens graduated from the University of Ulster, Belfast with First Class Honours from her B.A. (Hons) in Fine and Applied Arts, specialising in Textile Art in 2010. Following this, Stephens was offered a place on the “+1 Hons ” Programme at the University – an artist in residence programme.
Upon completion of this Stephens was accepted onto the ‘making it’ programme with Craft NI 2011-2013 and as a result of the work completed on this programme she was accepted as a member of internationally recognised “Sixty Two Group of Textile Artists” and exhibited until 2021.
Most recently, Stephens 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 formed the basis of a practice-based PhD within MIRIAD at MMU, completed in 2019. The title of this research is; ‘Coded Cloth’: How a generative digital design process for jacquard weave design can reanimate historical pattern archives.
A defining characteristic of her work has been the sustained commitment to the conceptual synthesis of contemporary technology and historical textile sources. 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.