Funded PhD Opportunity Grammar of Damask Design - An Irish heritage shaping future textile production

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory


This practice-based PhD will utilise research gathered and disseminated by a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF, REF OH-16-01266) grant led by Trish Belford and Professor Barbara Dass. The research project (Reviving Liddell Damask Design Heritage 2016-2018) restored, digitised and catalogued 1600 glass photographic plates from the William Liddell Company. The William Liddell Company was one of the most forward-thinking damask weaving companies in Northern Ireland. The plates document the working methodologies of designers and drafters in the Liddell company 1920-1960, a unique record uncovering high levels of graphic rendering skills, sophisticated understanding of pattern and extensive knowledge of the grammar of Damask weave structures.  The two-year HLF research project has also conducted three road shows in Counties Down, Antrim and Armagh recording tacit knowledge thus enriching knowledge of personal and community contexts involved in linen production.

This practice- based research utilises the information gathered and documented from the HLF project to develop and create a new body of work using the processes of weave and print. The HLF grant was only able to touch on key elements of the processes and oral histories embedded within the industry, but it has uncovered an urgent need to capture and enrich the narrative of our design heritage. This knowledge has potential, as practice-led research, to generate new models of design practice for advanced textile production. This PhD will initiate research into the regional textile industry, both past and present to understand the landscape and heritage of the great wealth of design practice. The processes and structures employed to create the intricate damask designs will be researched and re-imagined using both digital and analogue technology and the taxonomy of Damask design emerging for the Liddell archive. The research will be focussed on three key aspects of textile design practice: the grammar of woven Damask structures, the science of materials and the chemistry of finishing cloth. Clusters of research around these fields will be formed and interrogated through collaboration with industry, analysis of historical archives and tacit knowledge and challenging the parameters of new textile technologies. Irish Linen, Linen Heritage, Damask Design, Digital and Analogue Design, New Materials and Technologies, Textile Production.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

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The PhD training programme and regular supervision contacts have provided the direction and support necessary to ensure that I deliver a quality thesis in a timely manner.I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working at Ulster University and feel it has put me in a better position to sustain a full time career as an artist and academic in the years to come.

Jacqueline Wylie

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
12 to 16 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Professor Barbara Dass

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #238243 when applying for this PhD opportunity