UCLBritish MuseumGoldsmiths
Clothing the Pacific: a Study of the Nature of Innovation

CLOTHING THE PACIFIC investigates what textiles and dress make manifest about change in a region.

Investigation into the nature of material innovation and social creativity will be the starting point to compare transformations of clothing and social relations in the Pacific since the advent of colonialism.

The Pacific is famed for the diversity and coherence of overlapping organisations of tattooing, body art and pattern, often carried by textiles such as barkcloth and mats.

The project will document historical shifts in the use of cloth in the Pacific, and investigate relations between textile technologies, pattern systems, knowledge and social production.

All images Copyright © Lissant Bolton, Susanne Kuechler and Chloe Colchester

Project Aims

· To produce a new dialogue between museum collections, historical research and comparative ethnographic studies, contributing to an enriched understanding of textile traditions in the Pacific.

· To research contemporary responses to Western and Asian textile products and the social and cultural ramifications of these innovations.

· To develop a new analysis of innovation in textile technologies and material culture.

Project Members

Lissant Bolton (British Museum)

Chloe Colchester (UCL / British Museum)

Susanne Kuechler (UCL)

Nicholas Thomas (Goldsmiths College)

Graeme Were (Goldsmiths / British Museum)


Conference 2003 *** Updated information June ***

Project Publications

Project Directives

Niuean Barkcloth

Cook Islands Tivaevae

Island Dress in Vanuatu

Pasifika T-shirt design, Auckland

Printed Cloth and Pattern in Melanesia


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