Talk on textiles and talismans

Talk on textiles and talismans

In the past year or two, Jo Lovelock has visited the Museum a number of times to research the collection, use the library and attend events.  She gave a talk last year in Japan about her research (and included some Museum objects in her talk).  

Museum objects travel to Japan

Jo gave another talk this year at the Textile Society’s Research Symposium in London.  Here she tells us about her talk and a little bit about her research too:

The Textile Society promotes the study of textile disciplines and celebrates the history and culture of both traditional and contemporary textiles. On the 27th May they held the New Research Strategies IV Symposium at the Wellcome Trust in London. This provided an opportunity for curators, historians, artists, academics and PhD students to get together and present papers outlining the research they are doing around the world in a wide range of textile fields.

As a first year part-time practice based PhD student, studying textiles at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham Surrey, I gave a 20 minute presentation outlining the research I am undertaking into the relationship between transitional and talismanic objects in the context of magical thinking and through textile art practice.

A key area of this research is the use of textiles in operative magic and witchcraft in the British Isles since the repeal of the 1735 Witchcraft Act in 1951. I explained in the presentation that I had become interested in the subject after visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in 2016. I outlined the fact that I intend to establish a historic context for my research by analysing museum collections of talismanic objects found in the British Isles and I gave an overview of my preliminary research, showing a number of charms and talismanic objects predominately from the Museum of Witchcraft collection, to highlight the role that textile plays in the making of magical artefacts.

I explained that as a textile practitioner I synthesize my research through making and that as my PhD is practice based I will translate my finding into artwork for exhibition as well as through a written thesis.

The presentation was very well received and a number of people came up to me afterward to say that they thought it was a very interesting area of study.

I hope in the long term my research will raise awareness of the use of textile related talismanic objects in magical practices in the British Isles today.

For more on Jo’s work see:


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