With our Image-Maker in residence scheme we hope to push the boundaries of what sociology looks like, and to share our platform with creative practitioners and social researchers alike. This month, as we explore ‘Texture’ across our digital platforms, we are delighted to host Sarah-Joy Ford as our Image-Maker in Residence. Ford is an Artist and Postgraduate Researcher at Manchester School of Art, who works with textiles to explore the complexities and pleasures of queer communities, histories and archives. You can see her images over on our Instagram throughout the month, find us at thesociologicalreview.
Ford’s work embraces the entanglements of digital and traditional forms of making, using strategies of quilting, digital embroidery, digital print, applique and hand embellishment. Her work uses shades of pinks, pastel hues, satins, sequins and decadent surface embellishment. Working with decorative textiles situates the practice within histories of gendered marginalisation, and a lineage of artists reclaiming cloth as a powerful language for disrupting gendered discrimination.
Ford’s PhD research explores quilt making as for a way of making and re-visioning lesbian archival materials. Although quilts have traditionally celebrated the milestones of a heteronormative life – birth, marriage, children, death – Ford’s PhD project proposes the quilt as a document that creates a different way to represent lesbian archives outside of linear temporalities. The project spans from institutional archives including The Women’s Library (London School of Economics), to community focused museums (Glasgow Women’s Library), and into the homes and email inboxes of women who created – and still are creating – lesbian history, including Phyllis Christopher, Fisch (King Frankie Sinatra) and Annie Sprinkle]. Each quilt is an act of care.
In the social sciences, renewed attention is being paid to the feeling of things and their surface textures. Ford’s practice uses quilts to display her analysis of queer archives, and more than this, quilting is part of her research practice. With our digital theme we hoped to interrogate how social researchers not only think about the textures of everyday life, but how they can incorporate them into research outputs. Ford has developed a way to do just that, and the images we will be sharing give a glimpse of what research could feel like.
Ford is the first artist we are inviting into residence, and we hope to host many more in the future. Please get in touch with us if your creative practice speaks to one of our upcoming themes.
Sarah-Joy Ford is an artist and PhD researcher, whose exhibitions have included Banner Culture, British Textile Biennale (Blackburn), Hard Craft, Vane Gallery (NewCastle) and Weaving Europe: The World as Mediation, Shelly Residence (Paphos). She is co-director of the Queer Research Network Manchester, an interdisciplinary network connecting postgraduates across the Manchester Universities and a member of the practice based research collective Proximity. Currently she is working on Log Cabin: a digital exhibition in collaboration with Jordan Taylor, commissioned by Superbia for Manchester Pride.