An investigation of 3D technologies applied to historic textiles for improved understanding, conservation and engagement

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Fac of Arts Creative Ind and Education


Fragile embroidered textiles require protection from overexposure and control of environmental conditions to avert deterioration. Enclosed display cases provide the necessary measures to protect such historic textiles but obstruct access and reduce the possibilities for interpretation and engagement.

This research proposal is designed to work with the collection of Stuart embroideries at The Holburne Museum in Bath alongside the curatorial and digital learning teams to contribute to the understanding of the stumpwork embroideries' manufacture and conservation while providing new avenues for engagement and overcome the glass box experience that has obscured their material and design characteristics. This project proposes a novel methodology for the capture and dissemination of highly intricate historic textiles through 3D computational photography and 3D manufacturing techniques, using The Holburne Museum embroideries as a case study.

The first stage of the project will investigate the methodological approach to the recording of historic textiles, particularly the stump work embroideries, with affordable custom scanning systems using a combination of photogrammetry and photometric stereo techniques. This unique combined approach, developed at the CFPR for the capture of artworks, will allow the accurate recording of both colour and intricate surface shape of fabric surfaces in high-quality. This method will provide the necessary image sets to document and monitor in high-resolution and generate digital and physical outputs for public engagement activities.

The second stage of the research will produce innovative outputs for facilitating engagement with the embroideries. Data generated for conservation and documentation purposes will be exploited for educational programmes, to provide inclusive access for e.g., visually impaired visitors and enable virtual access to The Holburne Museum embroideries. This project will revitalise the material aspect of textiles, through the production of accessible digital and tactile outputs.

This research will facilitate the development of enhanced methods of recording and monitoring complex historic textiles to support conservation treatments. This project will also enable The Holburne Museum and, in the future, other historic textile collections to gain a better understanding of their collections and help them find new forms of interpretation.

The fellowship also aims to develop Dr Xavier Aure Calvet's research leadership and capacity to deliver a cross-disciplinary project. This will be ensured through a range of dissemination activities including talks to both academic and non-academic audiences, publishing research and hands-on activities such as workshops and show and tell events with prototypes to enrich encounters between audiences and The Holburne's collection of textiles. A network of academics and stakeholders from various disciplines will support the project and provide insights for future avenues for research.


10 25 50