Caryn Simonson
Associate Researcher

Caryn Simonson is Course Leader for BA (Hons) Textile Design and Acting Programme Director for Graphic Communications and Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts. She completed an MA Textiles in 1995 at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to MA study, she worked as a designer/maker within theatre and TV (BBC North). Caryn’s work attracted media coverage and was presented by Caryn Franklin on the BBC’s Clothes Show. Her headwear sold to music industry clients and TV personalities.

As an artist and curator, she has exhibited work internationally across photography, video, sculpture, installation and writing. She is an editorial board member for Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture (Bloomsbury/Berg) and the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (IJMS). Caryn organised the 2013 IJMS conference in London and co-curated an accompanying exhibition Motorcycle Cultures: fashioning bikes, building identities.

 

Research Interests

 

Caryn’s research explores fabric and semiotics, textiles and gender and how material meanings affect the representation of textiles within digital, virtual and photographic environments. She is interested in ‘transformation’ or the re-presentation of objects and images which render the functional dysfunctional.

Her semi-documentary photographic portraits depict ‘dressed-up’, customised motorbikes and owners, staged in ways to open up questions around individuality or group allegiance, fact and fiction, the ‘amateur’ and the professional.

Her studies into motorcycle cultures examines the cultural production of images in design, specifically how brand revival in fashion affects the way that consumers consume from a theoretical and cultural context. Her research on Fashionable Bikers and ‘biker’ Fashion’ analyses and reflects on the impact of this on different communities and how appropriation of identities impacts on groups, individuals and trends.

Earlier research has focused on aspects of the body and new technologies specifically in relation to women, identity and cyberspace.

 

Current Research projects 


  • 6th International Journal of Motorcycle Studies conference and curating Motorcycle Cultures part 2 exhibition to be held at Chelsea College of Arts, London, July 2016 – http://motorcyclestudies.org/conferences/
  • ‘Telling Stories: Brand Revival, from motorcycle clothing to luxury fashion’ and ‘Fashionable’ Bikers and ‘Biker’ Fashion, - Caryn is developing these conference papers which examined fashion’s love affair with the ‘biker’ image, this ongoing research explores the influence of ‘fashion’ on the brand revivals of Belstaff and Matchless. Tracing Belstaff ‘s transition from functional motorcycle clothing into high end fashion and the more recent revival of Matchless, with its clothing line and subsequent motorcycle re-launch, it will continue to examine the juxtaposition of luxury/heritage with fashion/biker. Caryn’s work discusses recent advertising campaigns that make use of the tools of fashion marketing to package powerful images, including celebrity endorsement, the Made in Britain tag and storytelling. What might have seemed like an unlikely alliance in the past, the coupling of luxury fashion and motorcycling is part of the ongoing ‘gentrification’ of motorcycling.
  • ‘Chintz my Ride’ – ongoing series of semi-documentary photographs of ‘dressed-up’ motorcycles. Currently exploring the cult of personal ‘customisation’.

 

 

Key Expertise

 

Textiles, fashion, performance, luxury branding, heritage, motorcycle culture

 

Most recent published work

 

Exhibition Curation and Artefacts

  • 2013, Motorcycle Cultures: Fashioning bikes, building identities – exhibited work and co-curated exhibition of design, textiles, fashion, photography and visual communication with Space Station Sixty Five to accompany 3rd International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (IJMS) conference, 16 exhibiting designers and artists, Triangle Space, Chelsea College of Arts. http://ijms2013.wordpress.com/exhibition-images/
  • 2010, Chintz my Ride - Exhibited photographic work for exhibition at inaugural conference of the IJMS, University of Colorado Springs, US, http://motorcyclestudies.org/conferences/
  • 2008-10, Co-curated construction of TFRC Second Life™ Island exhibition with Andrew Sides and Professor Jane Harris (UAL). Panel presenter at ‘What Future for Living Textiles’ symposium, ICA, London. Online exhibition toured to:
  • 2009: Tokyo Design Centre
  • 2009: Ucity Art Museum,Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
  • 2009: Lethaby Gallery Central Saint Martins, London – ISBN 978-095638010-4
  • 2007: Textile Transporter - exhibited work and co-curated exhibition at Arttransponder, Berlin. Developed publication, selected exhibitors, curated show with artist Renata Brink. Organised artists’ talks. Grant-funded exhibition project.
  • 2007: Ever and Again – exhibited work for TED project, curator Prof. Rebecca Earley
  • Work in public collection at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull – part of the MAG Collection which was exhibited in ‘History: Image-based Art in Britain in the late 20th Century’ (touring 1998 – 2000).
  • 2008: Co-curated Textile Futures Research Centre members’ work in Textile Futures island Second Life™ - also presented at ICA, London, Digital Studios and verbal presentation at ‘What Future for Living Textiles’ seminar; 
  • 2009: Tokyo Design Centre; 2009: Ucity Art Museum,Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts; 2009: Lethaby Gallery Central Saint Martin’s, London
  • 2009: Warp Factor ’09 exhibition catalogue, Textile Futures Research Group in Second Life™ 

 

Publications

  • In Harper, C. (ed.) (2012) Textile : critical and primary sources, Volume 3: Science and Technology, Oxford: Berg, Simonson, C. On Crafting Humanity: An Interview with Margi Geerlinks, at Home, Rotterdam, Netherlands, November 8, 2006, and email June 2008'. Previously published in Textile journal (Berg)
  • 2012 Review of Quinn, B. (2010) Textile Futures, Oxford: Berg In Textile: the journal of cloth and culture, vol.10, issue 3 (Berg), pp. 350-352
  • Simonson, C. 2009- Approaches to Research and Writing for BA Dissertations relevant to Fashioning an Ethical Industry, pp. 222-228, In Parker, L. & Dickson, M. (eds.) Sustainable Fashion: a handbook for educators, Publ. Labour Behind the Label; Bristol & Online: www.fashioninganethicalindustry.org
  • Simonson, C 2008 - November - Guest editor of special issue - Skin and Cloth - Textile :the Journal of Cloth and Culture , Vol 6, Issue 3, Oxford: Berg.
  • Simonson, C 2008 - Nov. ‘Dress-ings: interview with Franko B’, pp.314-323 In Skin and Cloth, Textile : the Journal of Cloth and Culture , Vol 6, Issue 3, Oxford: Berg.
  • Simonson, C 2008- ‘On Crafting Humanity: an interview with Margi Geerlinks’, pp. 274-285, In Skin and Cloth, Textile : the Journal of Cloth and Culture , Vol 6, Issue 3, Oxford: Berg.
  • Simonson, C 2008 - Nov. Introduction’, pp.216-221 In Skin and Cloth, Textile: : the Journal of Cloth and Culture , Vol 6, Issue 3, Oxford: Berg.

 

 

Conferences

  • 2015, ‘Telling Stories: Brand Revival, from motorcycle clothing to luxury fashion’ conference paper presented at the 6th International Journal of Motorcycle Studies, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama, US, July 2015 - http://motorcyclestudies.org/conferences/
  • 2013,  Conference Coordinator and panel selector – 3rd International journal of Motorcycle Studies, Chelsea College of Arts, London. Conference details, abstracts etc. http://ijms2013.wordpress.com/conference-programme/
  • 2012, ‘Fashionable’ Bikers and ‘Biker’ Fashion: from motorcycle clothing to luxury brands – motor-cycle/fashion-cycle conference paper presented

 

Advisory roles

  • International Editorial Board member for peer-reviewed journal Textile: the journal of Cloth & Culture (Berg/Bloomsbury)
  • International Editorial Board member for peer-reviewed online journal, the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (IJMS), www.motorcyclestudies.org

 

Simonson Caryn

→  sign up