I am currently undertaking doctoral research at the University of Bath, UK. This research investigates the experiences of Malagasy craftswomen as they negotiate the shift in livelihood from traditional reed weaving, at risk due to declining natural resources, to hand embroidery, introduced as part of a livelihoods project. The research has grown out of questions that arose during four years’ of living and working in rural southeast Madagascar. It aims to investigate the impacts of such a shift in making on the creative methodologies of participants and looks at the social, cultural and creative effects of this transition.

My transdisciplinary approach involves a number of methods, each of which investigates a different area of interest. I am undertaking an apprenticeship in traditional reed weaving in order to reveal the complexities of the making process and the embodied, material and geographical understandings held by weavers. The craft skills I am learning are allowing me to join in with social weaving in the community, in order to discuss the social, economic and cultural role that weaving and weavers play in the village. Social embroidery, both with individuals and groups of women at different stages in the transition from one craft to the other, explores women’s experiences of navigating this shift. Finally, embroiderers are illustrating their experiences through a series of commissioned embroideries, which are being used for visual elicitation to facilitate reflection on the role and significance of embroidery. I am using my creative practice to reflect on my own learning and the interactions between these crafts across the methodology.

Images feature the work of Hambo Rolline, Kazy Edvige, Ravolasoa Jacqueline, Romel and Raharimalala Ligie.