Jessica Hemmings
Rita Bolland Fellow | 2020-2023

Jessica Hemmings

Jessica Hemmings is the Rita Bolland Fellow at the Research Center for Material Culture in 2020-2023.

Rita Bolland 2020 Fellowship

The Reading Material project attempts a step towards decolonising the Tropenmuseum archive by offering speculative voices for archival accessions through literary pairings with textiles held in the collection. The research approach proposes a triangulation of existing textiles with existing literature and new commissioned fiction and poetry. This approach aims to unlock some archival silences by offering speculative rather than definitive voices for archival accessions with limited or partial provenance. Reading Material is interested in testing a playful triangulation between textiles and texts that span material and literary genres as well as geographies and languages. Multiple, rather than singular, voices are sought in an attempt to loosen the archive from a blinkered quest for accuracy through a single definitive historical voice. It is an intentionally eclectic strategy that moves from selected textiles towards literary voices, and from selected literature back into the archive in a search for combinations which do not exclusively privilege either the textile or the text.

Jessica Hemmings biography

Jessica Hemmings is Professor of Craft at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She studied Textile Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with a BFA (Honors) in 1999 and Comparative Literature (Africa/Asia) at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, earning an MA (Distinction) in 2000. Her PhD, awarded by the University of Edinburgh in 2006, is published by kalliope paperbacks under the title Yvonne Vera: The Voice of Cloth (2008). In 2010 she edited a collection of essays titled In the Loop: Knitting Now published by Black Dog and in 2012 edited The Textile Reader (Berg) and wrote Warp & Weft (Bloomsbury). Her editorial and curatorial project, Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today, is a book about postcolonial thinking and contemporary textile practice (Bloomsbury: 2015) and was accompanied by a travelling exhibition Migrations (2015-2017). Forthcoming publications include the second edition of the Textile Reader (2023) and a monograph about Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. 


Jessica Hemmings website:

Jessica Hemmings