My research focus is inspired by an interest in material culture and the oral history of endangered and declining ancient tribal weaving practices. Ethnographic authenticity and the semiotic coding of cultural heritage embedded in tribal ceremonial textiles drives my research in three main areas. (1) Al-Sadu Bedouin women weavers of the Middle Eastern deserts, focusing on the shajarah weaving technique and the semiotics of the tent divider or gata textile. (2) Iban Dayak warp ikat backstrap loom weavers and natural dyeing sourced from the jungles of Borneo, Malay-Indonesia. (3) Patola silk weavers of Patan in north-west Gujarat, India. Common lines of enquiry between these research areas have led me to study declining traditional hand weaving, spinning and natural dyeing techniques and intangible skills, and to record the silent lexicon of semiotic patterning.
I am currently working on the significance of these endangered and declining transferrable traditional, hand skills to contemporary, digital applications for use in the twenty-first century. I am writing a series of articles and book chapters, and recording a documentary to explore the value system of my findings.
Embedding my research, and teaching and sustainability interests has enabled me to found the Sustainable Growing Futures project as part of the Engineering Future Generation: Carbon Literacy research project. The Sustainable Growing Futures is a collaborative Cardiff Metropolitan University research enterprise to develop interactive technology, growing gardens to provide academic information and also to produce natural dyes sources (fabric dyes, paints and inks), fibres and materials (paper making, flax processing for linen and rope making) and robotics for agricultural technology (automated, precision CNC FarmBot, and soil generated microbial fuel energy). Future, sustainable developments will include the circular filtration of waste water and aromatic plants for aromatherapy research.
2023 London Craft Week: The Crafts of Qatar Caravane Earth Foundation. Video. Cromwell House, London.
2023 Caravane Earth Foundation: Woven Voices: material patterns, symbols and motifs of al-Sadu weavings in the Gulf countries.
2022 L. Joubert (edit). Craft Shaping Society: Educating in the crafts – the Global Experience. Book One. Chapter 7: Traditional Bedouin al-Sadu weaving solutions. Pp1013-114.
2021 Porch, L., Canavan, K., Cazeaux, C., Treadaway. C. Textile: Cloth & Culture. Caring Through Cloth: textiles and the trauma of stillbirth. Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
2020 Amity Project: Education in the Asia Pacific region series: issues, concerns and prospects. Education in the Crafts. Traditional Bedouin al-Sadu weaving and new solutions. Springer Pubs. Book chapter.
2018 All Things Arabia: Arabian Identity and Material Culture. Al-Sadu Weaving: Significance and Circulation in the Arabian Gulf. Zayed University, Abu Dhabi UAE. Chapter review. Bucknell University Press.
2017 World Ikat Textile Seminar WITS conference paper: Dayak to Digital: a modern integrity of the old. Kuching, Sarawak.
2017 Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar: Imperial Threads- motifs and artisans from Turkey, Iran and India. Visiting scholar and keynote lecture: Al-Sadu to Digital: traditional Bedouins weaving for contemporary textiles. Qatar.
2016 Seminar for Arabian Studies 2016: special session. Keynote delivery. Al-Sadu weaving in Kuwait: lost meanings and future prospects. British Museum, London.
2016 Selvedge the fabric of your life. A Voice in the Desert. Issue 63. Journal article.
2015 Mohammad, A., Littlewood, J., Canavan, K., Carey, P., AEI 2015: Birth & Life of the Integrated Building.
Responses of Kuwaiti Government dwelling occupants regarding their perception, preferences and behaviours.
2014 BBC World Service: World Have Your Say. Consultant contribution to BBC World Service Language Roadshow: Cardiff with Nuala McGovern & Jason Mohammed BBC Wales.
2014 Mohammad, A., Littlewood, J., Canavan, K., Carey, P., Mediterranean Green Energy Forum. University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fez, Morocco. Design Philosophy of the Traditional Kuwaiti House. 16-20 June 2014 2013 Canavan, K., Alnajadah, A. Textiles: The Journal of Cloth and Culture (Berg) Bloomsbury Pubs. Material symbols of traditional weavings of Kuwait. Issue Vol 11, No 2, London.
2013 Camel Conference @ SOAS 2013: Camel Trappings & the Tassel. School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) London.
2013 Camel Cultures of the World: Research Papers. The association between Bedouin Al-Sadu weaving and the camel. SOAS Publications, London.
2013 WEFT World Eco-Fibre Textile: Endangered Textile Traditions Seminar UNESCO/ World Craft Council: Al-Sadu Textiles from Kuwait: lost meanings and future prospects. School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) London.
2012 Glamorgan Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. Cardiff UK
2011 WIRAD Cardiff Metropolitan University -WIRAD Lecture Series: Unwritten Narratives of Bedouin Women Weavers of the Arabian Gulf.
2011 Goldsmith’s London University: ‘Material Matters’ Seminar: Materialising Symbols – Lost Voices.
2011 Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah Lecture Season 16: Weaving in the Arabian Gulf: Historical traditions and future prospects. Apr 2011.
2011 Sinclaire, R., Textiles and Fashion: materials, design and technology. Canavan, K., Chapter 22. Applications of textile products. Woodhead Publications, London.
2011 Gulf Conference: Aspirations and Challenges in the Gulf Conference. University of Exeter.
2011 Kuwait Textile Arts Association: Camel Trappings and Contemporary Textiles.
2011 Camel Conference SOAS: AlSadu Trappings, Decoration & the Dromedary.
2010 Oral History Society Conference V&A Museum: The Language of Al Sadu.
2010 Material Matters: DIGIT Joint textile research exhibition with C. Treadaway, P. Lawrence, H.Watkins. Howard Gardens Gallery.
2010 Kuwait Textile Arts Association: Discovered Through Translation: Gata.
2009 American University of Kuwait Communication & Language of Textiles. (Nov)
2003 Canavan, K. Dayak 2 Digital – Traditional Ikat for Contemporary Knitted Textiles. Heriot-Watt University. MacFarlane Prize 2003.